International Animation Festival Cardiff 1994

Report by David Jefferson.

The International Animation Festival returned to Cardiff for the second time with St David’s Hall and the Chapter Arts centre as the main venues. It was the first event to be run by the new festival director Jayne Pilling, who made an excellent job of the programming.

The Nightmare Before Christmas.

“The 1994 theme – Pandemonium: Animation Breaks Out – both recognizes and anticipates the recent breakthrough in audience awareness and opens the doors to the mysteries of the animator’s art,” said Gareth Edwards, Chair of the Festival Board of Directors in his introduction to the festival. “From the new Disney/Touchstone blockbuster, Tim Burton‘s The Nightmare Before Christmas, to Kathy Rose’s inspired combination of dance and animation, audiences will be given the opportunity to watch and learn the tricks of the trade.”

It is a non-competitive festival so there are no winners and no losers; to be seen must be reward enough. Films were grouped under a number of themes with such imaginative titles as Green on the Screen – a programme reflecting a wide range of approaches to ecological themes; The Hard Cell – politics, propaganda and animation; and Syncopation Animation – music and animation. The latter program included such favourites as Colour Box, Len Lye (1935), Seaside Woman, Oscar Grillo (1980) and My Baby Just Cares For Me, Peter Lord (1987).

Contemporary animation was presented in several programmes of the Best of British, New Student Films and International Panorama. Most of the British films were UK premieres whilst some had already been widely honoured and won prizes at festivals around the world such as The Village, Mark Baker, Bob’s Birthday, Alison Snowden and David Fine, Britannia, Joanna Quinn and Small Talk, Bob Godfrey.

There were a number of exhibitions connected with the festival including one staged by Aardman Animations with models and sets from The Wrong Trousers.

Kathy Rose.

Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas played to a packed house with an enthusiastic audience. This puppet animation manages to inject believability into some rather ghoulish characters. The camera is constantly on the move, making the most of the imaginative sets. The plot centres on Jack Skellington, a stick like figure and Sally, a rag doll who looks like she has been torn apart and sewn together again in a grotesque way. The story is carried forward at a frantic pace and I was not surprised to learn the director Henry Selick used to make animated station IDs for MTV.

Kathy Rose was something completely different. She dances in front of the cinema screen whilst illuminated by the images of her own animated films. The result is a surreal effect with the animation giving her moving patterns on her dress or providing small pools of light which isolate parts of her body in exotic movement.

Printed in Animator Issue 32 (Spring 1995)