Organizers of the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) have just announced their plans for a digital festival, OnlineFestival.ITFS.de, that will take place during the same May 5-10 dates of the original event. A festival statement noted that due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the originally planned festival cannot take place “in Festival cinemas, on Stuttgart Schlossplatz, and at numerous further cultural venues as usual.” Instead, they now plan to offer “a digital Festival feeling to all the stay-at-homes in Stuttgart and around the world, ITFS invites them to the OnlineFestival.ITFS.de from May 5 to 10, 2020, true to the motto ‘Stay Animated – Go Online with ITFS.’”
In discussing the new format, Ulrich Wegenast, the Festival’s Artistic Managing Director, said, “The new, digital format will be a brand new, virtual experience for our guests and us alike. With many video statements and live interviews as well as talks and panels we want to create a completely new kind of Festival feeling. This and our exclusive program of films, some of them previously unreleased, is what makes the OnlineFestival.ITFS.de with its various sections so special, and what distinguishes it from the usual streaming platforms.”
The new OnlineFestival.ITFS.de program consists of three sections: OnlineFestival Free (free of charge), OnlineFestival+ (fee-based), and OnlineFestival Pro (fee-based and for professionals only).
OnlineFestival Free: Free Festival Streaming for All
Every year, the large Festival open-air area on Stuttgart Schlossplatz is the centre of ITFS. The OnlineFestival offers free live streaming instead – a digital version of the Festival on Schlossplatz. Here, they will offer a mix of moderated interviews, live panels, and short films each day. Highlights include the Festival opening on Tuesday evening (May 5) and the awarding of the various competition prizes on Sunday evening (May 10). Certain parts of the Festival program, such as the curated Animated Music Video program, will also be available on this section’s playlist free of charge, complemented by editorial texts including comments and guest editorials.
The free GameZone offers a selection of game options and related tips for children and adults as well as digital, educational games; it also presents game academies and studios as well as the nominees for the Animated Games Award Germany 2020. In addition, workshops and lectures are available for live streaming.
OnlineFestival+: On-Demand Streaming of Current Films in Competition
OnlineFestival+ is the platform for all fans of animated film, offering a selection of films from the current Festival competitions: International Competition for short films, Young Animation, Tricks for Kids, Trickstar Nature, as well as feature films chosen from the AniMovie competition along with some of the best animated films from the past few ITFS editions (a total of more than 250 short and feature-length films). Filmmakers provide viewers with an insight into their work and further info on the films in video statements. Selected Tricks for Kids films are available along with media-educational material for children.
Dieter Krauß, the Commercial Managing Director of Festival organizer Film- und Medienfestival gGmbH, notes, “At this specific time, it is of particular importance to establish a platform for the filmmakers, so as to provide visibility of and audiences for their creative and artistic works. At the same time, our fans can enjoy many artistic, animated films, if only at home this year for once. However, it is still important to us to organize a Festival for joint cinema experiences and opportunities for personal exchange again next year.”
The feature films include one premiere: A Costume for Nicolas by Eduardo Rivero (Mexico, 2019), about a ten-year old boy with Down syndrome: Every year, his mother made him a costume for his birthday – until she died.
In addition, Zero Impunity by Nicolas Blies and Stéphane Hueber-Blies (France / Luxembourg, 2018) from the current AniMovie Competition will be shown: an animated artistic documentary film that gives victims of war crimes, social workers and activists a voice – from Syria to Ukraine, the African continent and the USA. A real cult film is the feature-length film Mary & Max by Adam Elliot (Australia, 2008) as a mixture of Wallace & Gromit and Harold & Maude, a suitably advertised clay animation film that will also be streamed at OnlineFestival+. With wit and warm-heartedness as well as a sharp eye for detail, the story of two deeply sad characters is told, who find joy in life through their friendship with each other.
The international spectrum of the films and the variety of their topics reflect the usual, high quality of the ITFS program: From VES Award winner The Beauty (Pascal Schebli, Filmakademie Ludwigsburg, Germany, 2019) and Tomek Popakul with ACID RAIN (Poland, 2019) as well as Colectif Illlogic with Maestro (France, 2019) to renowned studios such as Tumblehead Animations with Tales from the Multiverse (Magnus Møller, Mette Tange, Peter Smith, Denmark, 2019) and well-known filmmakers such as Konstantin Bronzit with He Can’t Live Without Cosmos (Russia, 2019) – the International Competition impresses with entertaining animated shorts of high artistic quality.
Films like Ron Dyens’ Melting Heart Cake (France, 2019) and Verena Fels’ Tobi and the Turbobus (Germany, 2019) in the “Tricks For Kids” competition section will also make the hearts of animation fans leap.
The new “Trickstar Nature” competition category presents films dealing with nature and the environment and includes works by well-known studios such as Folimage with Northern Lights (France, Switzerland, 2019) and the short film POLARBARRY-LET’S BREAK THE ICE!!-VLOG#207 by Wouter Dijkstra (Netherlands, UK, 2019).
The one-off charge to access the OnlineFestival+ is 9.99 €.
OnlineFestival Pro: Insights, Master Classes, and Exclusive Access to the Animated Video Market
OnlineFestival Pro provides industry members and professionals with access to master classes including one held by Benjamin Renner, and to professional talks and links to the Animation Production Days (APD), Germany’s most important co-production and financing market for animation. In addition, OnlineFestival Pro gives professionals (buyers, TV representatives, curators, etc.) the opportunity to access the Animated Video Market and view the major part of films submitted to this year’s ITFS (around 1,900 films), and thus a unique overview of current animation productions.
The one-off charge to access the OnlineFestival Pro is 19.99 € and includes access to the OnlineFestival+.
Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.