Kaisa Penttilä: Munaralli / The Egg Race (Finland)

Animatricks Festival Celebrates 100 Years of Finnish Animation 0

Animatricks Festival
Helsinki, Finland
April 25 - 27, 2014 

The upcoming Animatricks Festival in Helsinki celebrates the 100 year anniversary of Finnish animation with blasts from the past and a bunch of flying creatures – watch out for the Angry Birds!

Since Animatricks began in 2000, its core idea has been to bring the independent animator and filmmaker to the forefront. “I think the festival differs from many other bigger European festivals with its attitude of sometimes abandoning the "commercially viable" approach, and concentrating on the vision of the artist instead. But in the end, the festival, of course, does also have a more popular aspect to it because animation shouldn't alienate, but present to the people this unique art form. Animatricks is a good, quirky mix!”, explains Janne Korsumäki, Chairman of The Board and part of the programming team for the Animatricks festival.

The 100th anniversary screenings include a documentary trilogy on Finnish animation by Juho Gartz and Lauri Tykkyläinen, and Retro to Recent's collection of Finnish children’s animation from the 1970s to today. Furthermore, Animatricks looks back in history and screens short Finnish animations that have received awards at the festival between 2004 and 2013. became fascinated with the festival's program and wanted to find out more about the festival’s concept, so we kindly asked Janne Korsumäki to answer a couple of additional questions about Animatricks and the phenomenon of Finnish animation in general.

A. Dahlsten, E. Kunnari, N. Muikku, E. Myllykangas, O. Paukkonen: Päästä päähän / Head to Head (Finland)

The upcoming Animatricks Festival celebrates 100 years of Finnish animation. What should people know about Finnish animation?

Finnish animation has humble beginnings and it stemmed from really rudimentary techniques, so the early animators really needed to figure it out themselves because information was scarce or non-existent. These limitations in techniques and resources gave birth to a unique approach and lasting great ideas in terms of design and simplicity of execution. A good example of this are the animated Kalevala films of Reino Niiniranta, based on the Finnish mythology of the same name. 
Its design and storytelling really has withstood the test of time. Finnish animation is like Finnish industrial design – it concentrates on the core.

Camilla Mickwitz: Jasonin kesä (Finland)

How has it changed in the last ten years? Which names on the Finnish animation scene should we be following?

In the last ten years the animation scene in Finland has grown considerably. Nowadays it's much easier, or let's say – cheaper, to do even an animated feature virtually on your own – if you have the time and passion, of course. But even with the technology ready at hand, I think that the aforementioned aesthetics and principles haven't really changed that much. People are doing more high profile and commercially aimed animations, but interesting authors like Joni Männistö, Antti Laakso, Chrzu, Elli Vuorinen and Malakias still make films that have their own unique voice.

Angry Birds Toons (Finland)

In your opinion, what is the key to the success of the Angry Birds phenomenon?

The Angry Birds game became successful because of its addictive combination of being easy to play, but difficult to master the game's sweet spot. Its casual nature ignited the explosion of mobile gaming. The game's universe was rich in details and characters, and offered a great starting point to the “Angry Birds Toons” animated series, which expands the personalities of the game characters and thus feeds the gaming experience when the player starts to "care" for the characters. Personality goes a long way, even in something that can now be considered a multinational, corporate product.

Rebecca Blöcher: Quälen / Torturing (Germany)

In 2014 Animatricks is extending and opening an international competition. Tell us more about this idea.

Animatricks has always been a little festival that stemmed from voluntary work and the passion that people have towards this art form. It has had its ups and downs during the years, but nevertheless, slowly but surely it has been gaining a reputation as a small and charming festival with personality, as well as establishing it's place as a vital part of the Finnish animation community. But a festival doesn't exist anywhere else if it doesn't have an international competition. This was just the next logical step.

Mait Laas: Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange: A Rapid Love Story (Estonia)

What can we expect from the new Finnish animation being represented at this year’s Animatricks?

We're going to see animated films that are versatile both in technique and subject matter, and with a broad spectrum of emotions. There are going to be laughs and intrigue, but I'm sure there will also be some moments during which you might want to look away!

Laura Neuvonen: Kutoja / The Last Knit (Finland)

What are the highlights of the international program?

Highlights in the international program are many, but my personal favorites are, for example, "Wackatdooo", by Benjamin Arcand, which has energetic animation combined with aesthetics that are much like a love letter to the animation from the 50s and 60s. "Torturing", by Rebecca Blöcher, shows how, with animation, you can take really difficult subjects, and through metaphors and abstracts, drive them emotionally through to the viewer.