Every two years, Stuttgarts citizens have the pleasure to celebrate the “International cartoon festival Stuttgart” aka the “ITFS”. The focal point of the festival is honoring art and supporting young talents. The ITFS has a contest for these young artists with a prize money up to 70.000 euros.
I had the chance to talk to talk my contact Ulrich Wegenast to get some insight into this incredible event!
Ulrich, would you please introduce yourself to the readers and describe your work by talking a bit about the „ITFS“?
My name is Ulrich Wegenast. I have been the Artistic Director of the Film-und Medienfestival GmbH since 2012, which organizes the ITFS. I am also an honorary professor at the Film University Babelsberg.
The cartoon festival has a pretty long history. For the people who don’t already know: How did the festival come into being and why did you choose Stuttgart for the event?
The ITFS had its beginning in 1982 and since 2004, we have been celebrating it every 2 years. Our starting point was the cartoon class of professor Albrecht Ade, who taught at the “art academy “of Stuttgart. He had the burning wish to show his own films to a wider audience and connect the international animation scene on a larger scale.
This year marks the 24th ITFS, the event will be held from the 2nd of May until the 7th of May. Does this year have a specific motto or style?
This year’s motto is all about „Animation without borders.” Animation is not only a global visual language, it is also something that allows you to talk about topics without worrying about cultural borders in our society. It’s also a medium that is not limited to cinema and TV. It can appear in games, online and even outdoors in public spaces.
You are very close to the source of this art style. I think most people still only connect animation to traditional 2D cartoons. Truth be told – there have been a lot of new developments in the scene. What kind of change have you been noticing over the last decades, in regards to technology and the content of the films?
Innovation in technology come and go. It is important that the stories are told right. You wouldn’t tell a story with virtual reality technology the same way that you would in a traditional film. Animation invites you to try out different styles and techniques and nowadays, you can combine digital technology with analog drawing. If the story doesn’t work, you can’t fix it with technology and innovation. That’s the most important thing to remember.
Was there a film in the last 24 years that you particularly enjoyed and if so: Which film was that?
There have been numerous films, that I really enjoyed and that shaped me. Particularly films like “Song of the Sea” from Ireland, which came out 2014 and got nominated for Oscars. “Mary & Max” from 2009 by the Australian director Adam Elliot also come to mind. This year’s candidate would be the Chinese film „Big Fish & Begonia“, which reminded me of early films by the famous Ghibli Studio from Japan. The Italian short film „Muto“, by the anonymous artist Blu, also left a great impression on me. He created an animation that plays out on outdoors walls and resembles a style close to traditional graffiti. It doesn’t have a traditional narrative, but it is still a wonderful piece of art that shows you how the medium of animation can defy expectations. I mean, the flick has 11 million clicks on Youtube, which I think speaks volumes about the quality!