River Club to host international animation festival

JOHN HARVEY

This year’s Cape Town International Animation Festival promises to be a unique opportunity for the public to rub shoulders with the world’s leading animators, whose ground-breaking work is transforming film in ways not thought possible even a decade ago.

“For the first time the festival will not only be speaking to animators and producers, but consumers, who have a chance to get a real feel for what is happening in animation. We want the public to see that animation is now a truly viable career choice,” said festival director Dianne Makings.

“Our goal is to show people that animation is an art form. It is also incredibly rare to have so many globally-recognised animators in one line-up.”

Now in its fifth year, the three-day festival, known previously as Kunjanimation, is being held at the River Club in Observatory and Labia Theatre from Thursday to Saturday February 18 to 21. It will also serve as the African premiere of the acclaimed animated hit Stick Man, which was the fourth most watched programme in the UK when it aired on BBC One on Christmas Day.

A total of 9.27 million viewers tuned in to watch the feature, adapted from the book by writer Julia Donaldson and illustrator Axel Scheffler, of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo’s Child fame, the animated films of which Magic Light Pictures were nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA.

Festival-goers will also have the opportunity to enjoy screenings of Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea, directed by two-time Oscar nominee Tomm Moore,and recent Oscar nominee The Boy and the World, directed by Alê Abreu. The latter feature won the Cristal Award for Best Feature Film at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and the Grand Prix for feature film at the 2015 Animafest Zagreb.

Thanks to sponsorships from the National Film and Video Foundation, Wesgro, Animation SA and the French Institute of South Africa, in addition to a partnership with Nickelodeon, festival organisers have been able to offer a series of workshops with animation luminaries such as Mark Shapiro, renowned for his work on films like Coraline, Paranorman and The Corpse Bride.

Producer Christine Ponzevera will also discuss different strategies to pitch to European studios, and also how co-productions work. Technical talks and demonstrations will all be hosted by Adobe, The Chaos Group, The Foundry and Cel Action.

Ms Makings said the presence of Nedy Acet, a 3D animator at the world-famous Dreamworks studio which has been responsible for box office hits like Kung Fu Panda 3, Madagascar 3 and Peabody and Sherman, was a massive coup for the festival.

“He has a crazy amount of experience in the animation industry. I think what many people don’t realise is that animators like Nedy are really open and friendly, and are always willing to share their experiences with people who have any questions,” she said.

“I think that’s why we are so grateful to have venues like the River Club and Labia Theatre, which are ideal for people to come face to face with these animators and learn more about the industry.”

Another festival drawcard, Ms Makings said, was a series of gaming workshops, run in partnership with Friends of Design, while the team from Pop the Culture would run various seminars around graphic novels and producer roles.

Frédéric Chambon, head of film and media, French Institute of South Africa, believed the festival’s partnership with the French animation sector had allowed it to go from strength to strength.

“There have been many success stories as a result of this collaboration, and we look forward to expanding on this for the next year,” he said.

To ensure that festival-goers don’t miss what’s happening at the office while they are attending the festival, Media Cloud will be providing internet access for all attendees. This will also allow Q&A sessions with overseas directors Tomm Moore and Adam Elliot to be remotely accessible.

In addition, the festival will host a student awards initiative, a children’s programme, a competition for the festival trailer, outreach programmes and B2B sessions.

“We understand the value, and the potential value, that the animated film industry has to be a key driver in positive economic return,” said Monica Rorvik, head of film and production at Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape.

“South Africa has a wealth of talent and skills in this sector, and Wesgro strives to help them become export-ready and maximise the benefits to them.”

Tickets for the three-day event are R500 each, while tickets for screenings are between R25 to R40 each. For further information, visit www.ctiaf.com or join them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CTInternationalAnimationFest