VFX Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) reveal their program highlights -

Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) reveal their program highlights

The programme of the 29th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) scheduled to be held on-ground and virtually from 3 to 8 May 2022, has been finalised. With the motto “Black is Back!” and an extensive programme of films, presentations, talks, workshops, and exhibitions on the topic of animation in all its facets with intersections to visual effects, architecture, art, design, music, science, and games, to name but a few, ITFS 2022 will attract audiences and industry representatives from all over the world to the heart of Stuttgart over the course of six days.

The website OnlineFestival.ITFS.de with its media library, the ITFS VR Hub and additional online formats will be available from 2-15 May. The ITFS Open Air in Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz is the audience highlight in the cultural calendar of the Stuttgart region and offers a free film programme every day, which will also be streamed worldwide for the first time.  

The upcoming ITFS features new partners and venues such as the Hospitalhof, vhs TREFFPUNKT Rotebühlplatz, Delphi Arthaus Kino and FITZ Das Theater animierter Formen and, due to the corona situation, takes place in a more decentralised manner.

Highlights include the world premiere of Lille Allan – Den menneskelige antenne (Little Allan – The human antenna, Amalie Næsby Fick, Denmark, 2022), the presentation of AnimaDok Flee, nominated for three Oscars (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, et al. Denmark, Norway, 2021), the presentation of the project The House (produced by Nexus Studios for Netflix) and the moderated online talk between Oscar winners Allison Snowden, David Fine and Nick Park as well as the animation theatre piece Animeo & Humania by the Aarauer Theater Marie with ITFS trailer maker François Chalet and the comprehensive country focus on Austria.

The heart of the festival are the competitions and film programs in the different cinema locations. Up to a total of 65,000 euros in prize money are awarded by international juries of experts. In total 2028 submissions (ITFS 2021: 1981) from 80 countries were received for the various competitions.

The International Competition is the Festival’s centrepiece, presenting artistic animated films of the previous twelve months. Included are the Oscar-nominated Bestia (Hugo Covarrubias, Chile), Black Slide (Uri Lotan, Israel), Steakhouse (Špela Čadež, France, Germany, Slovenia), Varken (“Pig”, Jorn Leeuwerink, Netherlands), Slouch (Michael Bohnenstingl, Germany) and Deep Water (Anna Dudko, Ukraine). 

The Young Animation competition presents the best films by students at international film, art and media schools and universities. Among others are An Ostrich Told Me the World is Fake and I Think I Believe It (Lachlan Pendragon, Australia), BusLine35A (Elena Felici, Denmark), Au revoir Jérôme! (Goodbye Jerome! Adam Sillard, Chloé Farr, Gabrielle Selnet, France), The Boy and the Fire (Haomin Lu, China) and In His Mercy (In his Mercy, Christoph Büttner, Germany). 

The best animated short films and series episodes for children are presented at Tricks for Kids, including Battery Daddy (Seung-bae Jeon, South Korea), Maman Pleut des Cordes (Mum is pouring rain, Hugo De Faucompret, France), The soloists (Celeste Jamneck, Feben Elias Woldehawariat, Mehrnaz Abdollahina, Razahk Issaka, Yi Liu, France), the series Pip and Posy with the episode Night Pip (Matt Tea, United Kingdom), The bridge of the City (Klym Klymchuk, Ukraine) and Lost Brain (Isabelle Favez, Switzerland). 

Film fans can look forward to highlights and premieres in the AniMovie feature film competition. The following films will be screened: Flee (Jonas Poher Rasmussen, Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway, 2021, presented by the Haus des Dokumentarfilms), Bob Cuspe – Nós não gostamos de gente” (“Bob Spit – We don’t like people,” Cesar Cabral, Brazil, 2021), INU-OH (“INU-OH,” Masaaki Yuasa, China, Japan, 2021), La Traversée (“The Crossing,” Florence Miailhe, France, Germany, Czech Republic, 2021), Moje Slunce Maad (“My Sunny Maad,” Michaela Pavlátová, France, Czech Republic, Slovakia, 2021), Poupelle of Chimney Town (Yusuke Hirota, Japan, 2020), Myši patří do nebe (Even Mice Belong in Heaven, Jan Bubeníček, Denisa Grimmová, Czech Republic, France, Poland, Slovakia, 2020). A world premiere is “Lille Allan – Den menneskelige antenne” (“Little Allan – The Human Antenna,” Amalie Næsby Fick, Denmark, 2022). Maya the Bee – The Secret Kingdom (Noel Cleary, Alexs Stadermann, Germany, Australia, 2020, presented by Studio 100) will be shown Out of Competition.

Focus Country– In the supporting programme, ITFS 2022 will focus on Austria. Animation production in the Alpine republic stands for experimentation, innovation, and dark humour. Partner is the Austrian festival Tricky Women/Tricky Realities. The lecture Expanded Animation – Tectonic Shift will be presented by Jürgen Hagler (FH Upper Austria, Hagenberg Campus). 

The In Persona series will present the artist Thomas Renoldner, who embodies the diversity and creative contradictions of Austrian animation like no other, and whose 40-year oeuvre has covered the most varied aspects of animated and experimental film. As AniMovie Special, the feature-length film Willkommen in Siegheilkirchen (Rotzbub, Marcus H. Rosenmüller, Santiago Lopéz Jover, Austria, Germany, 2021) will be shown – an animated biography of the world-famous caricaturist and graphic artist Manfred Deix based on his drawings. Other highlights of Focus Austria include the presentation of Austrian animation studios Arx Anima, Causa Creations and LWZ Studio, a film programme presented by Gerald Weber (Sixpack Film) and a programme of animated Austrian music videos. 

In the In Persona series, artistically outstanding animators personally give insights into their work and their working methods. Dramaturg and director Marion Rasche worked, among other roles, as artistic director of the state-run animation studio of the GDR in Dresden. In this position in particular, she was largely responsible for the unfolding of new artistic freedom in the story development and visual design of DEFA animation filmmaking in the 1980s. Drawings by Steven Appleby (London) are characterised by their absurd humour. His own experiences and passions often flow into his multifaceted works, such as his latest comic Dragman (2020), whose protagonist turns into a flying superhero as soon as he dons women’s clothes. In this tragicomic examination of gender and role models, Appleby also draws on his own experiences as a transgender person. Internationally renowned and multiple award-winning filmmaker Regina Pessoa discovered her passion for drawing at an early age. In 2005, she made her most successful short film to date, Tragic Story with Happy Ending. The film won a total of 26 awards, making it one of the most renowned in the history of Portuguese 

animation. Jean-Charles Mbotti Malolo (Lyon) is a filmmaker, animator, and dancer. In his film works (including The Sense of Touch, which won the Grand Prix at ITFS 2015) he combines both passions. Daniel Höpfner (Berlin) is an experimenter and innovator of stop-motion film. The main protagonists of his films are mostly spaces, as is the case in Anhalter, Sehen wir uns nicht in dieser Welt…and Botschaften.

“Jochen Kuhn’s animated films [Neulich 1-3, Sonntag 3, Zentralmuseum] created with the means of painting have single-handedly added a chapter of everyday surrealism to art history. His everyday dystopias weave together the many talents of their creator with dreamlike ease: 

grandiose painting, philosophical-ironic commentary, a hypnotic use of his own voice and self-composed music – and the talent of being able to smile about the worst misfortunes as well,” said  film critic Daniel Kothenschulte. 

In addition to presentations by the Austrian film and animation schools University of Applied Arts Vienna, FH Upper Austria, Hagenberg Campus and FH Salzburg in the Country Focus Austria, the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts & Cartoon Network and 50 Years of National Film & TV School Beaconsfield (London), among others, will show the best works of their students and introduce themselves. 

The House (produced by Nexus Studios for Netflix) is the topic of the talk with the two directors Paloma Baeza and Marc James Roels and production manager Joost Zoetebier. A talk with National Film & TV School alumni Alison Snowden (worked on Peppa Pig and the Shaun the Sheep series) and David Fine (Bob’s Birthday), both Oscar-winning or multiple Oscar-nominated, respectively) and Nick Park (Aardman Animation, Oscar-winning creator of the Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep characters) will be shown online. 

Numerous screenplay workshops, master classes and workshop talks allow industry visitors to gain first-hand insight into the practical side of the business. In a workshop talk, graphic artist Sheree Domingo and scenarist Patrick Spät will present the creation of their comic Madame Choi und die Monster. The graphic novel was awarded the Comicbuchpreis 2022 of the Bertold Leibinger-Stiftung. In the Masterclass: Meet Ze Artists: Magic of marriage between sound and image, Renaud Armanet, instructor (including École Méliès, Gobelins), director, composer, sound designer and musician, will explain his original approach to using the soundtrack in the writing of a story, the editing of a film or the timing of animation, based on example films. In the Workshop Talk: VR Animation Film – Studio LAVAMACHINE, participants will immerse themselves in the world of virtual animation together. Uri Kranot presents ANIDOX:LAB, a tailor-made workshop for documentary and animation creatives, directors, and producers. In the script workshop Sisters of the Mist: When comics & animation overlap, the team of Sisters of the Mist will share their experiences with the differences between the art forms in terms of storytelling, design decisions, audience considerations, pitching process and workflow. 

Even three short film programmes on the topic of Women in Animation curated by Waltraud Grausgruber (festival director Tricky Women/Tricky Realities, Vienna) present the diversity of the international female animation scene. The popular Cult Nights will take place a total of four times, in 2022 with short film programmes on Best Animated Music Videos (in cooperation with Pop-Büro Region Stuttgart), Animation of the Extreme, Pandemic Animation (featuring films filled with isolation in everyday life, with dystopias, about diseases and environmental scenarios to technology and science) and Sous le tapis rouge (Under the Red Carpet) (presented by Tigobo Animation). 

The programme themed ‘Black is Back!’(curated by Ulrich Wegenast, Artistic Director of the ITFS) focuses on the potential as well as the fundamentals and principles of animation by showing international animated films of the last 30 years. Under the headings of Anticipation, Staging, Condensation, Abstraction and Exaggeration, the entire spectrum of black and white animation will be presented, ranging from reduction to abstraction to exaggeration. 

XPRMNTL Animation includes contemporary positions of experimental animation, which on the one hand take up the traditions of abstract film, and on the other hand formulate personal reflections on identity and home as well as subversive media practices. In addition, the programme shows artistic psychedelic studies that visualise the relationship between cinema and dreams. XPRMNTL Animation was put together in 2021 by Max Hattler (City University of Hong Kong), Giovanna Thiery (Wand 5, Stuttgarter Filmwinter) and Ulrich Wegenast and complemented by further films for ITFS 2022. 

The children’s film festival Tricks for Kids is put together by curator Iris Loos (vhs stuttgart Treffpunkt Kinder). The imaginative programme consists of current short films from all over the world, the latest international animation series, and international feature-length animated films. A world premiere at the Open Air will be celebrated by the short film Versteckte Helden (Hidden Heroes) by the animation studio monströös, which was created for ‘MACH DICH STARK – Die Initiative für Kinder im Südwesten’. In addition, numerous workshops will be offered at Jugendhaus Mitte, TREFFPUNKT Rotebühlplatz and the Institut français, such as comic, stop-motion, sound design and green box workshops, as well as the Children’s Animation Academy (in cooperation with Kindermedienland), the GameZone Kids on-site at Jugendhaus Mitte (in cooperation with the ComputerSpielSchule Stuttgart of the Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgarter Jugendhaus Gesellschaft, Merz Akademie and Mobile Medienschule Stuttgart Ost) with free workshops, including Minecraft, Minetest and ‘Controller bauen mit MakeyMakey’ and the ‘MACH DICH STARK Superheld*innen Games Workshop’. This year, Tricks for Kids is once again receiving significant support from L-Bank Baden-Württemberg and is being funded for the first time in the impulse programme ‘Kultur nach Corona’ of the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts. 

The GameZone is the digital playground of the ITFS and dedicated to different formats. In 2022, the GameZone will take place both on-site at the Jugendhaus Mitte and with different formats in the free online section on OnlineFestival.ITFS.de as well as in the ITFS VR Hub. In cooperation with the Landesanstalt für Kommunikation Baden-Württemberg (LFK), the Edutain Me 8.0 event will take place again this year. Here, developers, publishers, and representatives from higher education and training as well as politics will discuss how games can be used purposefully in the classroom, what criteria should thereby be considered, and in what form an introduction of digital media makes sense for the teaching structure. 

This year’s agenda also includes the topic of inclusion and diversity. Best practice examples will be presented and also exhibited in the GameZone. In addition, there will be talks, game jams and other events. At GameZone Talents, national and international institutions of higher education will introduce themselves and present the latest games by students, including Merz Akademie, Hochschule der Medien Stuttgart, Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences, Offenburg University, the Gamelab of the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG), Kunsthochschule Kassel, Zurich University of the Arts (ZHDK) as well as FH Upper Austria with the installation Digital Sensing. At Local Heroes – Kokolores & Friends, regional game studios present themselves and their games.

Part of the ITFS programme will take place in the virtual world of the VR Hub. As part of the GameZone, higher education institutions (including the Hochschule der Medien) will present their games there. At the Avatar Workshop with Ronald Wong Ho Hip (Johannesburg, South Africa), participants can design their own avatar for the ITFS VR Hub. In addition, there will be other events and webinars on the topic of VR, including a workshop with VR experts Allison Crank, Raoul Postel and Christophe Merkle, who are significantly involved in the development of the ITFS VR Hub, as well as a talk with Swiss artist Michael Frei about Plug & Play, his multi-award-winning project, which was developed as a game and a film, as well as a presentation by Causa Creations about their project Friedenskinder, the VR replica of an abandoned bunker from 1940s Vienna that can be visited virtually in the ITFS VR Hub. Visitors can also look forward to DJs and music acts, the exhibition Black is Back – Black and White in Animated Computer Games Exhibition, small games that invite visitors to virtual gaming as well as the Minimalism Game Jam. 

The project ITFS & Raumwelten VR Hub is developed as part of dive in. Programme for Digital Interactions of the Kulturstiftung des Bundes (German Federal Cultural Foundation) with funding by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media (BKM) through the NEUSTART KULTUR programme.