Saturday, May 22, 2010

reflections on stuttgart...

sitting on a train traveling southwest at 153km/hr, from warsaw to krakow... (in poland the 'w' is pronounced as a 'v' - so heading phonetically from varsav to krakov)... seems like a good a time as any to vrite an entry for ze blog.

it's been a couple of weeks since the festival at stuttgart and i've had a chance to reflect on the happenings there. it was simultaneously overwhelming, thrilling, fun, educational and chaotic... i've never seen so many animators in one place before, and when you get a roomful of cartoon nerds congregating - a strange cross-section of folk who rarely see the sunlight, and by choice spend years of their life drawing the same pictures over and over - a weird pack mentality unfolds.. fueled by red wine and choked with cigarette smoke, red faces loom large, the cacophonic babble of multilingual banter fills the air and business cards fly through the air like little harmless cardboard ninja stars.. i collected billions of the little buggers. and then at the right concentration of alcohol, noise and bravado, bizarre occurrences occur, such as the impromptu formation of the hip hop band 'lei lei and the australians' - an eclectic fusion of chinese rap, melodica, twangy back-up vocals and experimental percussion... we were a hit and held three encore performances - one including david silverman on the tuba.

most importantly, friends were made, and there will be familiar faces at future festivals. and even more important than that is the hours of often beautiful, and only occasionally dull, short animations that i saw on the big dark screen. my favourite was 'a family portrait' by joseph pierce, which ended up winning the grand prize, an unexpected winner but wholly deserved! hopefully we'll get to see it in melbourne in a couple of months...

obviously the biggest thrill of the festival was premiering my film. i'm prone to slight hyperbole, but there were at least 700,000 people in the cinema that night, and the reaction was great... i've found that audience reactions to mr eugene green can vary depending on whether or not people start laughing early on... and on this occasion there was a lot of laughter and a general positive buzz in the air.. it was brilliant. after the film i was asked to come up on stage to be interviewed by the hilarious christoph.. who had a habit of saying that 'big tall handsome men made him forget what he wanted to ask'.. funnily enough he remembered all of his questions for me... unlike me, i wasn't nervous at all - it was all very off the cuff and relaxed.

another highlight - almost an unexpected one - was the screening of my film as the opener for 'the simpsons movie' on the outdoor screen in the schlotz platz... it was a filthy night - freezing and rainy... i thought it might have been cancelled, but it went ahead for an audience of maybe thirty or forty hardy souls, and again it had a great response... it was so good to stand in the rain with my friend and musical compandre, jamie messenger, by my side, both of us clutching hot mulled wine, watching eugene shine through the gloom...

so, the stuttgart international festival of animated film was a great experience - one i wish to one day revisit... hopefully i will.

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