Fredrikstad Animation Festival 2017

Fredrikstad Animation Festival (FAF) took place from November 9 to 12, 2017 at Fredrikstad Kino and the House of Literature in Fredrikstad. The festival was held for the 21. time, and has been an annual event in Fredrikstad since 2007. It is organized by Norsk Animasjonsforum, who also arranged several additional events and seminars throughout 2017.

Summary FAF 2017

102 films in 27 screenings.
71 short films, 24 commissioned films and 10 feature films.
10 seminars, presentations and Q&As with 16 speakers, from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, England, Canada, Portugal and Spain.
50% female participation both in the short film competition program and in the seminars.
10 out 21 official guests were women.
Local contributions in the commissioned film and student film programs, in the form of films made in Fredrikstad or by filmmakers from Fredrikstad.
3 Norwegian feature films, among them two pre-premiere screenings, 5 Norwegian films in the short film program and 6 Norwegian student films.
Films from 20 countries outside Norway: Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Belgium, Spain, Japan, France, UK, Canada, Netherlands, Slovenia, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, USA and Romania.

Festival programme

Nordic-Baltic competition programme

17 animated short films, 14 student films, 7 children’s films and 24 commissioned films were shown in 5 different short film programs, which included films from Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. The films were selected in collaboration with the student festival Animation Volda.

International short film programms

The festival administration traveled to several international animation festivals in 2017, putting together three short film programs with 26 animated short films from 16 different countries.

Per Åhlin retrospective programme

This year’s guest of honor, Swedish Per Åhlin, was celebrated with the screening of several of his films during the festival. Christopher’s Christmas Mission, The Journey to Melonia and a separate kindergarten screening with three episodes from the TV series about Alfie Atkins, all of which are directed by Per Åhlin, were shown during the festival.

Feature films

10 feature films were shown during the festival. The films were categorized into three; children’s film, documentary feature film and Japanese anime.

Animert på Kulturhuset/Litteraturhuset

Under the title Animated at … , the festival presented a total of 8 screenings of animated short films throughout 2017, at Kulturhuset in Oslo and the House of Literature in Fredrikstad.

Masterclass and screening of Moana

On January 26, Fredrikstad Animation Festival co-organized a pre-premiere screening of the latest Disney film, Moana. Before the show, a Masterclass with the film‘s directors John Musker and Ron Clements was held.

Screenings at foreign venues

A “Best of Fredrikstad Animation Festival 2017” program was shown at the Lithuanian animation and gaming festival Blon in Klapeida in April 2017. The same program was shown during two special screenings in Sweden that same month, at Zitabiografen in Stockholm on April 18 and at Biograf Metropol in Eksjö on April 21.

Winners of Golden Gunnar – Competition for Nordic-Baltic Animated Short Film

On Saturday, November 11, the winners of this year’s competition program for Nordic-Baltic short films were awarded during a prize ceremony at Litteraturhuset in Fredrikstad, with artist Egil Olsen functioning as master of ceremonies.

Golden Gunnar – Grand Prix

Jury: Sophie Koko Gate, Endre Eidsaa Larsen & Pedro Rivero

Min Börda/The Burden
Director: Niki Lindroth Von Bahr
Sweden – 2016

Jury statement: We can never know the loneliness of a fish, but thanks to animation a fish can sing out its deep longings. It can also, like in this glorious musical, point to the ridiculousness in ourselves. This film is very alive, atmospheric and vibrant thanks to the tactile quality of the singing and dancing animals, the well-crafted, solid world they inhabit, the beautiful music, and the deliberate rhythm. The uncanny eyes of the fishes not only look at you, they touch you. And the furry monkeys could, if they wanted to, jump out of the frame, toward us, and pull a real prank. In its musical form, this film finds an excellent balance between pulling us into a tragic world and humorously distancing us from this world. The last tracking shot summarizes this quality, slowly moving us into the universe while allowing us to empathize with the strange creatures in this marketplace without customers.

Best Nordic-baltic short film

Jury: Sophie Koko Gate, Endre Eidsaa Larsen & Pedro Rivero

Amalimbo
Director: Juan Pablo Libossart
Sweden – 2016

Jury statement: The winner of this category showed us a unique take on dealing with grief and loss. Set in an epicly sculpted world, we were given glimpse into an exciting alternate reality that we fully believed in and wanted to be part of. A damn fine example of interesting film making.

Nothing Happens by Michelle & Uri Kranot (Danmark – 2017) received an honorable mention.

Best student film

Jury: Sophie Koko Gate, Endre Eidsaa Larsen & Pedro Rivero

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
Director: Riina Vílen
Finland – 2017

Jury statement: It is daring, in a way, to emphasize stillness and inaction in an animation film. Giving us three views at once, extending the conventional image into three zones of unrest, the film uses a split-screen technique to guide our attention to what we might call empty spaces, as well as to a lonely human figure trapped in a pattern of inactivity. The familiar apartment rooms, devoid of any meaningful activity, is filled with tension and reeks of a creepy sadness. The violent and mysterious ending powerfully contrasts with the quiet tone of the rest of the film. At the same time, it feels like a natural conclusion to the sense of creeping doom that runs throughout the film. The style of the stop motion creates a sense of stop in motion, and the title recalls a formulation from Albert Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphos, evoking the draining routine of days passing by – passing by “like a pack of cigarettes you’d smoke”, to quote Robert Mitchum in Out of the Past.
We want to honor this film for its compositional accomplishments, its well-founded structure, its firmness of direction, its interesting perspective on time, and its emotional individuality.

Cream (Denmark – 2016) by Lena Ólafsdottir received an honorable mention.

Best commissioned film

Jury: Bo Juhl Nielsen, Torgeir Holm & Juliette Viger

The Boy Who Fell and the Man Who Picked Him Up
Hanne Berkaak
Norway – 2017

Jury statement: A film that dares to touch an important and fragile topic – done in an extremely moving and respectful way. The use of metaphors combined with music makes it feel light despite the seriousness of the topic and gives you goosebumps as you feel the connection to both the victim and the helper.

Stemmene i hodet (Norway – 2017) by Julian Vargas & Gunhild Fasting received an honorable mention.

Best children’s film

Jury: Ask Fagerland-Taraldsen, Loke Fagerland-Taraldsen & Sander Konstantius Solbrække

Pigtail and Mr. Sleeplessness
Edmunds Jansons
Latvia – 2017

Jury statement: Funny and beautiful story. Good length and many cool things. We were given time to relate to the clever plan to send the grandmother and the little brother to the moon. Nice colors as well.

The World’s Middlest Fish by Cathinka Tanberg received an honorable mention.

Golden Gunnar – Audience Award

Min Börda/ The Burden
Director: Niki Lindroth Von Bahr
Sweden – 2016

The Audience Award goes to the audience’s voted favorite.

Guests

The festival‘s official guests were: Per Åhlin (Sweden), Samantha Moore (England), Nathan Jurevicius (Canada), Regina Pessoa (Portugal), Pedro Rivero (Spain), Sophie Koko Gate (England), Endre Eidsaa Larsen (Norway), Bo Juhl Nielsen (Denmark), Torgeir Holm (Norway), Juliette Viger (France), Claes Dietmann (Sweden), Julian Vargas (Norway), Anne Magnussen (Norway), Marika Makaroff (Finland), Frederick Howard (Norway), Malin Erixon (Sweden), Aya Suzuki (England/ Japan), Elisabeth Lysander (Sweden), Chris Robinson (Canada), Anne Winberg (Denmark) and Egil Olsen (Norway).

Guest of honor

This year’s guest of honor was Per Åhlin, who also received the festival’s “Lifetime achievement” award. This award is handed out by the festival board of Norsk Animasjonsforum to honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Nordic-Baltic animation through their life’s work.

Almost 50 years ago, the Swedish director, animator and illustrator Per Åhlin debuted with the film Out of an Old Man’s Head. Since then, Åhlin has been a central figure in the Swedish animation scene and has had a great impact on the animation industry in both Norway and Sweden. His films include several classics in film and television, such as The Journey to Melonia, the TV series about Alfie Atkins and Christopher’s Christmas Mission. Per Åhlin has played a vital role in the Swedish film industry and was a driving force in the establishment of the animation industry in Sweden. His films are today regarded as important contributions to Swedish film history and have become popular in both Sweden and the rest of the Nordic countries. Today, Åhlin is one of the foremost animation filmmakers in our part of the world. Per Åhlin was honored with an exhibition, retrospective program and a conversation about his work as an animation director for almost 50 years.

Presentations, meetings with filmmakers and seminars

Industry seminar

Fredrikstad Kino. Friday, November 10

Visual Answers to Random Ideas: Nathan Jurevicius
Australian Nathan Jurevicius lives and works in Canada as an illustrator, director, toy designer, writer and artist. His most famous project to date is Scarygirl, a multimedia world that consists of various characters and that is constantly evolving in comics, toys, games and animation. Nathan’s latest projects include his award-winning film / web series based on the new interpretation of Lithuania’s mythology, Peleda, the books Birthmark and Junction for Koyama Press and an IKEA x Målerås glass collection.

Experimental animation research & practice: Samantha Moore
Samantha Moore is an animator and documentary filmmaker who, throughout her career, has been concerned with making films on topics that cannot be explained by the use of live action. In her teaching as Senior Lecturer at the University of Wolverhampton, Samantha Moore has focused on idea development, experimental and innovative animation, as well as the combination of research and practice. She has dedicated her entire career to the idea of transferring complex information to animation in new and interesting ways. In her award-winning animated documentaries, she works with scientists and others in the scientific community, such as archaeologists, neurologists and microbiologists.

My creative process: Regina Pessoa
Regina Pessoa is an award-winning short film director, animator and artist. She started animating and directing animated short films back in 1999 with The Night. Her latest film Kali – the Little Vampire became a great success internationally and won many awards at festivals all over the world, including the Grand Prix at the international animation festival in Annecy and the Grand Prix for animated shorts at SXSW in 2007. The film was also shortlisted for an Oscar nomination for best animated short film. Regina Pessoa is an outstanding artist and filmmaker, and has cultivated unique expressions throughout her career. In her presentation at Fredrikstad Animation Festival, Regina Pessoa focused on the creative process that forms the basis for her animated short films.

Nordic Animation Forum

The House of Literature in Fredrikstad. Saturday, November 11

Bo Juhl Nielsen; Sun Creature Studio.
After graduating from The Animation Workshop in 2013, Bo Juhl Nielsen started Sun Creature Studio. As CEO and creative manager, Bo works continuously to achieve the company’s visions and goals. One of the company’s biggest success was collecting $ 300,000 in a Kickstarter campaign for the short film The Reward (which won the audience award at FAF 2013). Besides being an administrator and decision maker, he has directed and participated in the creative process of several film productions.

Malin Erixon: Work in progress
Malin Erixon works with illustration and animated film in both commissioned and free artistic productions. Her films have been featured at film festivals around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival and the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and have received several nominations and awards. In 2015, Malin was nominated for the Swedish Film Academy Award for Best Short Film. Her latest work includes films such as Benjamin’s Flowers, But You Are a Dog and Sleep Incidents. Currently, she is working on two new animated projects, White Male 40 and Garden of Eden, which she presented at the Nordic Forum.

Marika Marakoff: Moomin Valley
Marika Makaroff is an award-winning content producer and Creative Director from Finland. She is the director and founder of Gutsy Animations. Marika has been working with media for over 20 years, mainly in executive roles. She has been creative director in Fremantle Media and Filmlance International and CEO of Fremantle Media Finland and Friday TV. Marika is currently creative lead and producer for a new and innovative animated television series called Moominvalley, based on Finnish Tove Janson’s books and comics about the Moomins family. The series is produced and distributed by Gutsy Animations and directed by Steve Box, who won the Oscar for Best Animated Movies with Wallace and Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit in 2006.

Frederick Howard: Vikingskool
Frederick Howard got his education from Westerdals School of Arts, Communication and Technology and The Norwegian Film School. Recently, he was the main producer in SF Norge AS, but joined Storm Group in 2012, and has since become a co-owner of Storm Films. In addition, he is also a board member of the distribution company Euforia Film. Frederick has been head of the Producers’ Association’s division for feature films and a member of the board of the association. His productions include Captain Sabertooth and the Treasure of Lama Rama, Den unge Fleksnes, the TV series about Captain Sabertooth, and the feature films Amors Baller and The Christmas King: In Full Armor. At the Nordic Forum, he presented the television series project Vikingskool, which he, in co-production with Irish Cartoon Saloon, is working to launch as an animated television series.

The Nordic Forum was presented in collaboration with Swedish SAAVA, The Danish Animation Association ANIS and Finnish Animaatioklinikka.

Breakfast seminar

As a kick-start to FAF17, the festival, in collaboration with the creative industry in Fredrikstad and Blender Collective, arranged a breakfast seminar at Hydrogenfabrikken in Fredrikstad, with Claes Dietmann from renowned Swedish VFX and animation studio Goodbye Kansas speaking about digital visual effects. The studio is known for award-winning visual effects, CGI, motion capture and animation work, which has played a defining role in television, movies, games and advertising and has worked with visual effects for, amongst others, the TV series The Walking Dead, character design for the short film Adam, a Unity project, and most recently with the visual effects on Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square.

Panel: Animation in Documentaries

Lately we have seen several documentary productions that use animation as a technique and storytelling device. In a panel discussion, director Anne Magnussen and animation director Julian Vargas discussed what possibilities, but also what challenges lie in using animation in documentaries. The two also presented examples from feature films The Man Who Knew 75 Languages and the TV series Stemmene i Hodet, which were both shown in the festival’s official film program.

Scandinavian Master: Per Åhlin

Per Åhlin is one of the most significant Scandinavian directors in animation, and has made several feature films and TV series that are now considered classics. As a recipient of the festival’s “Lifetime Achievement” award, it was natural for the festival to present a conversation about his filmography and life. With a strong visual style and focusing on issues such as preserving nature and humanity, Åhlin stands out as one of the foremost animation film makers in our part of the world. During Saturday’s program, Per Åhlin had a conversation with Elisabeth Lysander, the author of his biography, where they presented his work with illustration, drawings and films made since the 60’s.

Meet the Filmmakers

During a Q&A session at The House of Literature in Fredrikstad, the audience could become better acquainted with the filmmakers from the festival’s competition program for Nordic-Baltic animated short films. The moderator of the session was Chris Robinson from the Animation World Network website (AWN.com, which is one of the most significant international sites for animation). Robinson is also the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival. The filmmakers who were present were producer Lise Fearnley with the film Threads, the directors Cathinka Tandberg with the film The World’s Middlest Fish, Julie Engaas with the film In a Few Years Everything will be Different, Maja Arnekleiv with the film Mum‘s Hair and Erika Weite & Reeta Neittaanmäki with the film Reminiscences.

Q&A with feature film makers

After the screenings of the feature films The Man Who Knew 75 Languages and Psiconautas: The Forgotten Children, Q&A sessions took place with the directors Anne Magnussen and Pedro Rivero, where the audience had the opportunity to ask questions and the filmmakers could tell about their films.

CHILDREN AND YOUNG AUDIENCES

Family Day

In collaboration with Fredrikstad Kino and Qlthus, a family day was arranged at Fredrikstad cinema, with screenings and various animation-related activities. Among these were a children’s disco, an open animation workshop for children, a drawing workshop and VR experiences of animated short films. Additionally, a separate award ceremony for best children’s film was held, where a children’s jury from Fredrikstad presented the award for best children’s film. During the awards ceremony, Christopher’s Christmas Mission and films from the E6-Østfold Media Workshop were shown, in addition to the winner of the Golden Gunnar award for best children’s film.

Workshop for young talents

In collaboration with Amandus International Student Film Festival and E6 – Østfold Media Workshop, a two-day workshop in digital 2D animation was held for 11 selected young people. The workshop was lead by the internationally acclaimed animator Aya Suzuki, who has worked on several major international productions, including Hayao Miyazaki’s Oscar nominee The Wind Rises and Sylvain Chomet’s Oscar nominee The Illusionist.

The workshop took place at the E6 Media Workshop Østfold, where Aya Suzuki gave the participants an introduction to basic animation techniques and set up exercises that the participants were to complete during the two-day workshop. Receiving guidance along the way, the participants got to work on their own projects. The young people who participated were selected after a compulsory application round, where they had to write about motivation, interests and previous experiences with animation and related topics such as drawing, media production or design.

Kindergarten screening and outdoor drawing

300 kindergarten children were invited to a screening of three episodes of the TV series about Alfie Atkins from 1979, directed by the festival’s guest of honor, Per Åhlin. After the show, the children participated in drawing several large Alfie Atkins drawings in front of the cinema.

Seminar for Upper Secondary School

During the opening day, two lectures were held specifically for the upper secondary schools in Østfold. The speakers were British Sophie Koko Gate and Julian Vargas from the Oslo-based animation studio Animaskin.

Julian Vargas is educated in classical animation at the University College of Volda and has since 2007 made over 200 TV vignettes and delivered special effects to some of Norway’s largest and most popular productions. His work has been shown at several festivals around the world and has won various awards. Today he works as a creative director at Animaskin, an animation studio he established in 2011.

Sophie Koko Gate is originally from Bath, but was educated at the Royal Academy of Art in London. Her graduation film Half Wet was immensely successful internationally. Now she works from her own studio in London, where she directed animated films for, among others, MTV, The Guardian, Airbnb, Vox and Lena Dunham. She has lectured at universities and festivals in several places around the world and her films have been shown at over 100 festivals.

Ceremonies and other events

Opening Ceremony

The festival was officially opened with a ceremony at The House of Literature in Fredrikstad, featuring speeches, entertainment and screenings. The opening speech was given by Freddy André Øvstegård, representative of the region of Ostføld in the Norwegian parliament and member of its culture and family committee. The films shown were Per Åhlin’s Christopher’s Christmas Mission and Kali, the Little Vampire by Regina Pessoa.

Exhibition: Per Åhlin

Honoring lifetime achievement winner Per Åhlin, the festival arranged an exhibition of works from his life-long career. The exhibition was held in the City Hall, which also functions as Fredrikstad Cinema‘s foyer, and was free of charge.

Portfolio Session

Jobseekers and students were given the opportunity to showcase their work and portfolio to directors, producers and studio managers, both in order to be able to receive feedback and possibly to tie contacts for future employment. Present during the session were Julian Vargas (director and creative leader of Animaskin), Bo Juhl Nielsen (producer and CEO of Danish studio Sun Creature) and Fraser Maclean (designer and teacher in animation).

VR short films

The audience had the opportunity to experience two Virtual Reality short films from Google Spotlight: Son of Jaguar by Jorge R. Gutiérrez and Sonaria by Scot Stafford & Chromosphere.

Partners

Partners for the festival were: The Amandus Festival in Lillehammer, Animaatioklinikka, Animation Volda, ANIS – the Danish Animation Society, Blender Collective, Coffevan, E6 Østfold Media Workshop, Fabel, Frame by Frame, Fredrikstad Cinema, Fredrikstad Kommune, Fritt Ord, Grafill Animasjon, Karivold Film, The House of Literature in Fredrikstad, Nebbet, Netron, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Norwegian Film Institute, OBOS, Qulthus, SAAVA, Scandic City Hotel, Sparebankstiftelsen 1 Østfold Akershus, The Cure Foodtruck, Viken Filmsenter, Østfold Fylkeskommune.