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The Boxtrolls, 2014. Director: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable (USA)

Fredrikstad Animation Festival 0

Agnese Čivle,

Fredrikstad Animation Festival
Fredrikstad Kino, Litteraturhuset and Nebbet, Fredrikstad (Norway)
November 6-9, 2015

The Fredrikstad Animation Festival is the oldest and largest animation festival in the Nordic region, with roots going back to 1994 and the Animerte Dager festival in Oslo. One of the the festival's pillars is the Nordic-Baltic competition for animated shorts, and the awarding of the main prize - the Golden Gunnar. The festival is also one of the nine animated-film festivals that nominate films for the prestigious European animation award, Cartoon d’Or. This year, an extensive list of speakers and guests will attend the Fredrikstad Animation Festival, holding seminars and giving presentations along with four days filled with screenings, workshops and other animation-linked events. The Fredrikstad Animation Festival is delighted to present guests from some of the most renowned studios in American animation, including A.K.A Studios and ReelFX. Wes Mandell, Animation Supervisor of The Book of Life, ReelFX’s latest production produced by Gullmerio del Toro, will give a making-of presentation. The festival will also host Danny Antonucci, creator of the longest-running cartoon series on Cartoon Network, Ed, Edd n Eddy. During Friday's industry seminar, he will talk about character design and present various animated film characters he has created throughout the decades as a filmmaker. The renowned producer of Japanese animation and art films, Tamaki Okamoto, will hold a breakfast seminar on the festival's opening day, Thursday November 6th, about her work as a producer.

Anders Narverud Moen, Festival Director, was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the festival, and animation in general, for's Express Interview.

The festival is one of the nine animated-film festivals that nominate films for the prestigious European animation award, Cartoon d’Or. What has been the success rate of the animated films nominated from your festival for the Cartoon d’Or competition?

I think it was in 2010 when three out of five films that ended up on the short list of nominated films were films that had been nominated through our festival, including our Grand Prix winner that year, Krokodill (by Kaspar Janics, Estonia). That was a really special year, and a hard one to repeat. We focus on small countries on the outskirts of Europe, so it gives the filmmakers an opportunity to get a nomination without having to be selected by the bigger festivals on the continent. 

Kule kryp. 2014 Director: Thomas Szabo, Hélène Giraud (France)

Could you tell us more about the selection process for the animated short competition, as well as introduce us to the jury?

We have a co-operation with a small student festival in Volda, Norway, allowing them to invite great filmmakers and animators as guests to their festival. Volda is something special, a very small village located in the western part of Norway. To get there you need to take a propeller plane from Oslo or Bergen, and the landing strip is squeezed in between mountains and a fjord. It is often a bumpy ride, but with a great view. Before the festival starts in Volda, three professional filmmakers select the films for two of the competitions in the program that are labeled as professional categories. During the festival, all student film entries are shown to the public, which then, together with an another jury, select which student films will be screened in Fredrikstad. 

The selection jury for professional films was made up of Kate Corbin, Day Svein Roland and Eric Grønnmo Bjornsen, while the selection jury for student films had the following people on it: Kari Anne Haaland, Catinka Tanberg and Robert Morgan.

This year's jury, which will choose which films get the Golden Gunnar, is made up of the Japanese producer and distributor Tamaki Okamoto, The Norwegian filmmaker Kine Aune, and last year's Grand Prix Winner, Kari Pieksä. 

Rocks in my Pockets, 2014. Director: Signe Bauman (USA/Latvia)

In your opinion,what is it that makes Nordic-Baltic animation unique?

Nordic and Baltic animation is based on two different traditions, the East and the West, with Finland in between. The Scandinavian animated films have highly-accomplished storytelling, and often tell an effective story. The design and animation are there for the story to be told. Historically, animation has been bound to children's television programs, but in recent years, we see more and more of a focus on directors that develop their own voices and projects, and who create great artistic works. The Baltic has an even a stronger tradition for developing great artists, especially the Estonian studios Nukufilm and Joonis Film, which are strong animated-film companies that have a unique voice in the animation world. 

Bath House, 2014. Director: Niki Lindroth von Bahr (Sweden)

Animation is usually perceived as a part of popular culture, and is thus regarded mainly as entertainment. Has there been a change in this general attitude?

Animated films are still great entertainment for larger audiences, and it will always be like that. On the other hand, there have always been great artists working in the animation industry, and people do not realize how much work artists put into an animated film. If you ask me, I would say that great entertainment can also be great art; I do not see them as being different. Have there been any changes in this attitude? Yes, maybe. Increasingly more people know the name of their favorite animated film director, and people are able to discern good animation from bad. 

Escalator, 2014. Director: Christopher Nielsen (Norway)

What about the techniques of today’s animation… Is the younger generation of artists still working on paper, or has the animation industry become totally digitalized?

Of course, digital techniques have taken over; this is completely natural when new and amazing techniques are introduced – people start to use them if they suit their projects. That is evolution. However, it is often combined with traditional animation. Young students continue to develop their animation skills by drawing on paper, or by making stop-motion. Some even use traditional sets, but combine them with digital animation. The Danes have successfully used this technique in many great animated films, and one our award winners from last year, It’s Up to You, made by Kajsa Næss, used a combination of digital cut-out, stop-motion set, and paper animation. I think it is not a question of choosing to do either a digital or analogue film, it is more about choosing the technique that fits your story, projects and art design. 

Pilots on the way Home, 2014. Director: Priit Pärn; Olga Pärn (Estonia)


- Nordic and Baltic competition program

16 animated short film have been selected for screening, and compete for the festival's own Golden Gunnar Award.

- Animated Documentaries

During the festival, you can also get an insight into other European festivals with a different perspective on animation. Annegret Richter, head of the animation program at the DOK Leipzig festival in Germany, will give an introduction on animated documentaries and present a short film program.