The 5th International Oslo Animation Festival (OAF) was held at Filmens Hus, April 22nd to April 26th 1998, with the official opening and awards ceremony at the Soria Moria Cinema. The festival offered screenings of over 200 films, divided into several programmes: Nordic and Baltic competition, International programmes, Jury programmes, and different theme programmes. Among this year’s themes were German animation and animated documentaries. OAF also celebrated Donald Duck & Co’s 50th anniversary in Norway, with a lecture held by Ph.d. Robin Allen, an exhibition and screenings of classic Disney films.
The 1998 festival had approximately 5000 visitors. It was also a pleasure to register that this year’s festival, in a much stronger sense than earlier, managed to gather the majority of the Nordic animation industry. This can be seen in connection with the fact that this year the festival also arranged a financing forum for animated television series.
Main venue: Filmens Hus
In 1998, OAF relocated the main part of the festival from Kulturslottet Soria Moria to Filmens Hus. There were several advantages in connection with making this move: The excellent screening conditions at Filmens Hus were a definite plus; It is absolutely necessary for a festival that screens 200 films to run the films as smoothly as possible. The close relationship with the Norwegian Film Institute and the contact with the remainder of the Norwegian film industry has also been some of the profits gained by being located at Filmens Hus. This move improved the festival’s visibility both within and outside the Norwegian film industry.
Guest of Honour
OAF, with the support of Institusjonen Fritt Ord, invited the Czech animator Jan Svankmajer as this year’s guest of honour. This was the first time he, accompanied by his wife Eva, visited the Nordic countries. It meant a great del for the festival to have Svenkmajer as a guest. Within the animation industry he is considered to be a living legend, and it was therefore an honour that he chose to attend OAF. In connection with Svenkmajer’s visit, there was screened a retrospective programme of his short films, together with a screening of Svenkmajer’s first feature film Alice (1987).
The Nordic and Baltic Competition
The Nordic and Baltic Competition is very important for the festival. In 1998, over 100 films entered the competition, out of which the preselection jury selected 46 films for the official competition programme. This year’s preselection jury consisted of Tonje Bjander (NO), Johan Hagelbäck (SWE) and Heikki Jokinen (FIN). Prizes are awarded in five categories; Best Film/Grand Prix, Best Debut, Best Use of Animation in a Commersial, Jury’s Special Prize and the Audience Award.
OAF, with the support of Ars Baltica, invited three Baltic animators to this year’s festival. This gave Baltic animators a unique opportunity to get aquainted with the Nordic animation industry. The Baltic animators Jurate Leikaite (LIT), Mati Kütt (EST) and Riho Unt (EST), who were all represented with films in competition, were guests at the festival.
The Jury and the Winning Films
The jury consisted of Hege Ellingsrud (NO), Martin Galton (UK), Gil Alkabetz (GER) and Paul Berry (UK). Unfortunately the fifth jurymember, Carole Paulus, had to cancel due to illness.
Best Film / Grand Prix
One Day a Man Bough a House by Pjotr Sapegin, Norway
The award for best film was presented by NRK2, Trond Viggo Torgersen.
The jury’s statement: “The jury found the choice for Best Film easy. The film we have chosen stood head and shoulders above the 46 films screened in the competition programme.”
Best Debut Film
Sigh! By Julie Engaas, Norway
The jury’s statement: “We thought the film was a clever and original view on an odd subjevt. It had depth and worked on several levels. We felt it was brave and intelligent of the animator to not get in the way of the idea, it was allowed to live.”
Best Use of Animation in a Commercial
Locomacbeth by Jonas Odell, Sweden
The jury’s statement: “… the winner struck us all as being extremely fresh in its approach. It managed to create its own strange, but attractive world, and successfully drew us into it. The models were particularly striking in design, and the different styles were an interesting way of creating an emotion that stayed with you. It made a very powerful film and well deserved winner.”
The Audience Award
One Day a Man Bought a House by Pjotr Sapegin, Norway
The award was presented by Tuborg Norge.
New in 1998 was that OAF had become one of five partner festivals in the Cartoon d’Or-network. Cartoon, with the support from the Media-programme, is the European Union’s platform for European animation. OAF nominate films from the Nordic and Baltic Competition to Cartoon d’Or – the prize given within Europe. Since this is a prize given within the European Union, OAF as of now can only nominate Nordic films. In 1998 One Day a Man Bought a House and Sigh! were nominated from OAF. The 1997 Cartoon d’Or winner: Sylvain Chomet’s La Vielle Dame et les Pigeons was screened during OAF’98.
It had become somewhat of a tradition for OAF to each year focus on a country’s production of animation. In 1998 Germany was in the limelight. During the course of composing the German programme, OAF worked closely with Goethe-Institut Oslo.
Two programmes were composed in connection with the German focus: Götz Gruner presented a programme consisting of highlights from the last few years of German animation. Associate professor at Høgskolen I Volda, Gunnar Strøm, presented a programme that focused on experimental animation from the 1920’s Germany, and also Norwegian commercials produced in Germany during the same period.
There were great expectations and a lot of excitement attached to the screenings of animated documentaries. Never before had there been such a thorough presentation of the animated documentary as a genre. During the festival, animated documentaries were presented in three programmes. The films included in the programmes showed variations in execution as well as in content. There were also great differences in the production years; Winsor McKay’s The Sinking of the Lusitania was made in 1918, while Mikaela Pavlatova’s …Forever and Ever was from 1998.
Donald Duck & Co 50 Years in Norway
Donald Duck & Co celebrated it’s 50th anniversary in Norway in 1998. This occasion was duely marked during the festival. An exhibition of Lasse Åberg and Sture Hegefors’ collection, consisting of original works by the most famous Disney artists and modern art inspired by the Disney universe, attracted great attention. The exhibition included works by Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson, Keith Harring, Erro and Andy Warhol. The exhibition was officially opened by Lasse Åberg and Sture Hegefors.
Ph.d. Robin Allen held a lecture, for a sold out crowd, about the European influence in Disney’s earlier films. OAF followed this with a screening of the Disney classic Fantasia, and a programme of Disney shorts, including Donald’s very first appearance in The Wise Little Hen (1934).
Mackinnon & Saunders Ltd.
The other exhibition during the 1998 festival consisted of puppets from one of the world’s leading puppet making companies; Mackinnon & Saunders Ltd. Puppets from some of the most famous animated films produced during the 90’s were exhibited, like Barry Purves’ Next and Achilles, and Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!. The exhibition was supplemented by puppets from Paul Berry’s private collection; including puppets from James and the Giant Peach and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Georgina Hayns from Mackinnon and Saunders Ltd officially opened the exhibition.
Each year OAF arranges a children’s workshop, held by Heidi Bach Dahl. Like the previous years, the interest for the workshop was great, especially for the Saturday workshop when the children were offered a ride in a replica of Donald Duck’s car. The workshop gave the children an introduction to different animation techniques, and an opportunity to make their own animated film. In 1998 the result of the children’s workshop was screened during the award ceremony, which received great ovations from the audience.
Alien Abduction Party
After the award ceremony at Soria Moria Cinema, there was an Alien Abduction Party held at the old tram station at Torshov in cooperation with Tuborg Norge and Bydel Sagene-Torshov. The party was a great success with approximately 1000 guests. The film The Year Along the Abandoned Road was screened together with a number of other animated highlights, including the winner of the Grand Prix and the Audience Award, One Day a Man Bought a House. The percussion group SISU opened the party with their mix of contemporary music, humour and fetching rhythms. Mushroomers followed with monster-dub into the early hours.
The press coverage during the 1998 festival was very good. At the request of OAF there was made a festival vignette by Mikrofilm associates Ronald Kabicek Hansen and Jan Knutsen. The vignette was screened at all cinemas in Oslo preceding and during the festival. Nearly all Norwegian television channels were present at the festival; NRK1, NRK2, TV2, Østlandssendinga and Canal+. Both the NRK1 cultural programme Gydas Vei and NRK2’s Filmkontrollen presented special programmes featuring festival guests and films. Newspapers like Aftenposten, Dagsavisen, VG and Dagbladet, together with radio stations NRK P1, P2 and P3, all covered the festival extensively.