AWAS! is a platform aiming to widen the world of indie animation.
AWAS! sounds like a bit of a non- conformist event from the start. Even before you know what it is, you find out what it is not.
“What it is not is a festival, because festivals tend to ‘ cater to people in the know,’” says Italian- born graphic designer and illustrator Fabrizio Gilardino, who is one of the co- organisers of AWAS! in Kuala Lumpur.
“I’ve always thought that festivals in general are some sort of ghettos. Every year the same bunch of people go to see, listen to, or watch what their peers have done. It is like preaching to the converted, in a certain way,” he says.
AWAS! strives to go beyond this.
It is a rendezvous for animation fans, a week- long exploration of the world of animation, in the broadest sense of the word.
AWAS! runs at Findars Art Space and Raksasa Print Studio in Kuala Lumpur until March 15.
“Animation combines so many elements. It is about painting and illustration, graphic design and typography, cinematography and editing, music and sound design, storytelling and poetry,” adds Gilardino, who now divides his time between Montreal in Canada and SouthEast Asia.
“As French poet Robert Filliou so brilliantly put it: ‘ Art is what makes life more interesting than art.’”
This first edition of AWAS!, boasting an international lineup of almost 50 animated shorts from around the world, is packed into five different programmes. It includes an exhibition featuring drawings on paper as well as celluloid and digital prints, and a workshop on sound design by Italian sound designer and animation historian Andrea Martignoni.
Additionally, there will be a comic book launch ( Poop! by Huaguoshan), a screening of the Chinese feature- length animation movie, Princess Iron Fan, with live music accompaniment, and a screening of an experimental film from 10 European animators, which involves drawing on film celluloid.
With such a wide- ranging programme spread across two venues, how would Gilardino sum up what AWAS! is?
“A wonderful assemblage of surprises,” he offers.
“AWAS! is different from a conventional festival not just because there is no competition and no winners as in cinema festivals, but also because it tries to bring animation to a much broader audience. We want to reach out as much as possible ... to grab the attention of art lovers,” he adds.
But how much can a blip on the radar do? Create awareness? Sustain long- term interest?
For AWAS!, the screening of shorts in informal settings, from an art gallery and performance space to a printing studio and cafe, could very well do the trick – or at least be a step in the right direction.
“When I started to collaborate with Findars a couple of years back, we thought we could try to do something a little bigger.”
The earlier screenings, according to Gilardino, boasted a good turnout, which served as a motivation to go big.
“I am particularly interested in giving animation shorts a longer life as most of them are only shown at a few festivals around the world and then they sort of disappear from the public eye,” he says.
Kuala Lumpur may be where it all starts, but there are plans to bring AWAS! to other Malaysian cities and beyond.
“We can take it, perhaps, even to other South- East Asian cities such as Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Vientiane or Hanoi. It would be good to establish a network of people and venues interested in such a venture,” he shares.
AWAS! is a collaborative effort between Dust Breeding ( Gilardino and Martignoni), Bannai Roo and Tey Beng Tze from Findars Art Space, and Jane Stephanny and Julienne Mei Tan from Raksasa Print Studio in Kuala Lumpur, and Lim Keh Soon from Huaguoshan, with the help of Sim Hoi Ling.
AWAS! runs until March 15 ( screenings are from March 9 to 13) at Findars Art Space ( No. 8, 4th floor, Jalan Panggong, Kuala Lumpur) and raksasa Print Studio ( 9- 1, Jalan telawi 2, 1st Floor, Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur). tickets are rM15 per screening ( can be purchased at the door) or rM50 ( excluding an rM2 processing fee) for a fiveday pass ( purchase online: raksasaprint. com). Facebook: Findars and raksasa Print Studio.
Estonian artist Anu- Laura Tuttleberg’s Fly Mill, which is a stop motion puppet animation film.
Two film stills from Germany- based director Maria Steinmetz’s whimsical Der Wechselbalg.
A still from the collective project ‘ recycling’ by Serbian artist rastko ciric.
Valerio Spinelli’s Pandemonio, a cGI short.
Italian filmmaker and designer roberto catani’s animation work La testa tra Le Nuvole.