Short animations of all over the world
The international competition of short animated films for children introduces to its small spectators 62 films of all genres and film techniques from 24 countries of the world. France and Russia will have the largest representation. The most exotic countries are Singapore, Venezuela and Chile. The Czech Republic is represented by student films White Horse and Cherry Tree from Tomas Bata University in Zlín, which originated with support from the FILMTALENT Zlín Foundation.
Radim Procházka's production workshop comes with the puppet film Charlie the Snowman’s Christmas Wedding, directed by Petr Vodička and the winner of the Golden Slipper for Best Animated Film from the 54th ZFF Alexandra Májová (née Hetmerová) has together with Kateřina Karhánková created the adventurous story of two bears for the smallest children titled Blueberry Hunt. Czech Television is represented in the competition with Sing Along, a series of animated songs sung by the Kühn Children's Choir. A lot of delegations will come to Zlín, among the most prominent of them the producer and director Anthony Silverstone. He will come from distant South Africa to introduce his fil Belly Flop , which originated in Triggerfish, Africa‘s largest studio of animated film, makers of the animated features Khumba and Zambezia and the humorous series Revolting Rhymes.
An interview with Anthony Silverston: "Belly Flop is story about perseverance."
Can you please tell us more about you and Triggerfish? Local children can know your Revolting Rhymes that is broadcasted on the Czech Television but also Khumba and Zambezia that were distributed in the cinema. What is the recepy to have such a successful animation studio and to make such great films?
Thank you – it’s wonderful to know that our films have reached audiences across the world. The company was established in 1996 as a stop motion studio, but I only came on around 2003 and then joined as a partner in 2007 when it moved into CG. We were intent on making animated features and, since there is not much of a cinema-going audience in South Africa, we knew we had to release internationally. We were overwhelmed with the response we received. I think Zambezia managed to find audiences around the world because it was a unique, exotic world that had not been seen on screen before and people were surprised at the quality of work coming from a studio in Africa. We spent a long time trying to find a story that would work universally and went through many drafts. We still had a lot to learn but took advice from a lot of consultants along the way. It has been a while since we released our second film Khumba and we excited to now be starting another of our own features again! Feature films take a very long time to get off the ground so we have also been very fortunate to work on the Christmas specials for Magic Light Pictures (Stick Man, Revolting Rhymes, The Highway Rat and now Zog). It allows the studio to keep running and for the teams to keep building their experience. Triggerfish has 5 partners and it really does help that we are all working together to keep the studio going and that each of us has our different area of responsibility. I head up development so I have been working with a number of creatives on various projects – it’s important to have something ready for when an opportunity with the right partner comes up.
Belly Flop is a first film for Jeremy and Kelly. What is the story of Belly Flop story? How did you find Jeremy and Kelly?
Well I thought making a feature was hard, but in fact, completing a short film can be even harder! Over the last 7 years we kept trying to get to the project during downtime, but the service work always takes priority and it can get complicated when the technical systems evolve and new people keep coming on to the project. Kelly wrote the story back in 2011 for an in-house story competition which she won. The brief was for something that could be set in one environment with minimal characters and no dialogue. Kelly was inspired by a girl she used to au pair for who was not the greatest swimmer, but would not let that stop her. We loved the theme of perseverance and thought the way she had told the story was funny and utterly charming. Jeremy was actually one of the judges of our story competition and was a director we’d been working with at times (he directed the animated introduction logo for our feature films). Kelly was a production manager at the time, but her interest in story meant that she was then also selected as one of the winners for our Story Lab which was a continent-wide search for talent that we ran with the Walt Disney Company and the dti. So, we now also have a series with her and her co-creator Marc Dey, which we are working with eOne on developing.
You are coming long way from South Africa to the Czech Republic. Do you travel a lot around festivals? Can I test you a bit. Do you know anything about Czechoslovakian animations?
I travelled quite a bit with Khumba, but mostly we only get overseas for one or two markets/festivals a year. It’s always so inspiring to be exposed to other cultures and to see new animated work and meet up with like-minded people, but the exchange rates do make it quite expensive for us ☺
I know Jiří Trnka and Jan Švankmajer’s work – it really seems like they are part of the foundations of animation. Reading up a little, I see that the wonderful film Tram by Michaela Pavlátová is also Czechoslovakian