Fear and Tooning in Venice
Cartoons on the Bay puts Russian animation at the top of its billet, which is well-rounded with celebrations of Italian and global animation hits. By Thomas J. Mclean
After a year off, Cartoons on the Bay is back and ready for its 17th edition in Italy’s famed Bride of the Sea: Venice.
With fear in cartoons as its theme for this year, Cartoons on the Bay offers a robust program with more than 600 submissions yielding 45 competition finalists representing more than 40 countries.
The three-day event, set for April 10-12, will be held this year in the historic Pa l a z z o Labia , which features frescoes painted by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo.
The festival has chosen Russia as the guest country for this year’s event, a pick artistic director Roberto Genovesi says was made long before current events landed the nation on front pages around the world, and is based solely on the quality of animation coming out of the country.
“We thought about Russia a long time ago,” he says. “The Russian animation industry has seen great growth in the last 10 years. There is a lot of independent work, a lot of new series and movies and attention to new forms of writings. So it was normal to think about Russia for an intensive focus.”
That focus includes honoring Russia with a Pulcinella Special Award, and attendance from top Russian animation directors such as Aleksandr Petrov, four-time Oscar nominee and jury member Konstantin Bronzit, Ivan Maximov, Igor Kovalyov and Vadim Sotskov.
Petrov, whose credits include winning an Oscar for best animated short for 1999’s The Old Man and the Sea, will receive the Pulcinella Award for Lifetime Achievement. A second lifetime achievement award will be given to the Argentinean animator Guillermo Mordillo, known mostly as Mordillo.
Petrov was born in Russia, where he graduated from the State Institute of Cinema and Television and began a career in animation. But it was in Canada that he reached success with the animated adap- tation of Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The 20-minute short was made from 29,000 frames, each hand painted in oils on glass and then photographed in IMAX. In addition to the Oscar, it won the Grand Prix at Annecy. His second film, My Love, was distributed by Studio Ghibli in 2006, and he is currently seeking funds for his third project from his home in Yaroslavl, northeast of Moscow.
Programming focusing on Russian animation includes a large panel on Friday morning featuring Maximov, Kovalyov and Sotskov. The festival also will screen retrospectives of films and shorts of some of the most important Russian studios, like Melnitsa Animation, Toonbox, Animation Studio Moskva, Pchela Studio and Klasky- Csupo.
Heading up the jury for this year’s competition is Italian film director Fausto Brizzi, director of Night Before Exams, Ex and Crazy About Me. Also on the jury, alongside Brizzi and Bronzit, are Giorgio Cavazzano, James Capobianco and Richard Rouse.
“I chose figures with experience in the world of comics (like Cavazzano), in the world of videogames (like Rouse) alongside directors and artists with proven experience in the field of cartoons (like Capobianco or Bronzit) but also a well known director of live-action films that knows very well the world of young people (like Fausto Brizzi),” says Genovesi. “It’s a mix of viewpoints.”
The festival competition offers a Pulcinella Award in nine categories: TV series for preschool, TV series for kids, TV series for teens, hybrid TV series, educational and social issues work, TV pilot, advertising and promotional work, interactive animation and short film. Additional screenings outside the competition are set in each category.
“We have not made any changes because the festival by its nature is a festival that studies the changes of languages and formats,” says Genovesi. “Pulcinella Awards are our trademark from our origins. Everything else is always evolving.”
Two special awards will be presented this year, with Peppa Pig honored as Phenomenon of the Year, while Iginio Straffi, creator of the popular TV series Winx Club, will receive the Pulcinella Special Award to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
Additionally, an Italian Studio of the Year award will go to Mad Entertainment, the creative studio that produced The Art of Happiness by Alessandro Rak.
International guests this year include Scott Ross, founder of Digital Domain and a pioneer of digital technologies in visual effects, and Alison Norrington, founder of Storytellers, a worldwide reference for the development of transmedia projects. Special screenings include the anime feature The Garden of Words, directed by Makoto Shinkai; a preview of Juan Campanella’s animated feature Underdogs; a screening of Pet Pals in Windland from Gruppo Alcuni; a preview of The Nut Job; and the Italian premiere of Scooby Doo!: WrestleMania Mystery. Visit cartoonsbay.com/en to learn more.