Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Animation Now! Q&A with director Malcolm Turner

Animation Now! Q&A with director Malcolm Turner

This year's New Zealand International Film Festival is also going to be the springboard for animation.

With the announcement of Animation Now!, New Zealand’s own dedicated festival of animation as part of NZIFF in Auckland.

Its programmer is Malcolm Turner, who for 20 years,  has been providing NZIFF with a popular survey programme of ‘year’s best’ animated shorts titles: Animation Now.

The launch of the new Animation Now! Festival in Auckland seems like a canny move. Why has this taken so long?
It's something we've talked about internally for quite a while. There have been a number of things that have conspired against pushing the "go" button until now - mostly 'boring' things such as venue issues, timetabling issues and things like have been the headwinds facing launching the festival. But the substantial increase in the number of entries (over 4,000 this year) and the rapid simplification of the technologies relating to screening material have been among the 'push' factors that encouraged us to create the Animation Now! Festival this year

Animation at NZIFF is perhaps one of the truly universal experiences for all ages, does that give you a feeling that you can be bolder with some of your selections for this mini curated event?
Probably the main thing that allows us to enlarge (or to make more bold) the programming now that we have a festival structure to use is all that extra 'real estate'. There is only so much that can go into a single program but by launching the Animation Now! Festival we not only have a lot more room for more films, we have a structure that allows us to explore themes, genres and styles in a lot more depth.

What's your favourite of the films you've programmed and why?
Well, I love them all of course. But "The Sparrows Flight" is a film that really synchronises with my passion for animation as an artform - apart from being a wonderful film in its own right, it is a kind of encyclopedia of animation styles and techniques complete with a built in hand guide for how they work. And "Velodrool" is pure animation magic - it's absolutely a grade A textbook example of the unique properties of animation.

Blind Vaysha (Trailer) from NFB/marketing on Vimeo.

Blind Vaysha and Go to City ELE were 2 of the best I saw at the launch event you put on, but equally two of the most diverse in execution - how hard is it to juggle such polar opposites?
Well, it's much easier now that we have the Animation Now! Festival structure to work with. But even so, the beauty of short films is exactly that - they're short .... the start, they run and they end. It's reasonably easy to fit a roster of fairly diverse films into even a single programme, the real trick is finding a sympathetic (or provocative) screening order that helps the programme become more  than the sum of its parts.

How is the animation section faring globally - was it difficult to curate down into programmes and selections?
Globally auteur/independent animation is booming. As I mentioned early we had over 4,000 entries to contend with. Curating them into programs is a process that becomes more difficult as you go. Ultimately we are not programming a specific number of films but are working to a definitive number - being the number of minutes of screen time. Typically each program is about 75'00 long and the hardest part is always getting any given program down to that number. I find the pain usually sets in around about the 150'00 minute mark. It's usually not too bad up until then but trimming off the last hour and a bit always leaves great work off the list.
A COAT MADE DARK- Trailer from Damien Byrne on Vimeo.

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