StopTrik IFF, a festival of stop motion animation, gets ready for its 9th edition in Maribor (Slovenia, Oct. 3Rd - 6th) and Lodz (Poland, Nov. 8th – 10th) in the spirit of feminist reflection. While the call for entries addressed to the authors and producers of stop motion and experimental shorts made worldwide between 2017 and 2019 is open until August 7th (https://www.stoptrik.com/entry-form), the organizers already work on providing programming and facilitating intercultural meetings that would give all festival's attendees many opportunities to discuss problems and promises of feminist agenda in animation filmmaking.
StopTrik 2019 competition programmes will showcase what's best in the sense of aesthetics, techniques and surprising intellectual twists in contemporary, widely understood, stop motion international production. As each year we invite Festival's Audiences and Students of Maribor and Lodz to become jurors of StopTrik's competitions. Special retrospectives are planned as visual vertigo of feminist animation filmmaking curated by extraordinary women film experts and animation directors such as Franziska Brückner (St. Poelten University of Applied Sciences, Austria), Paola Bristot (Academy of Fine Arts in Venice, Italy) and Katarzyna Kijek (stop motion filmmaker, Poland). Brückner traces experimental approaches, Bristot plays with the concept of “perfection”, while Kijek presents animated music videos that loudly and imaginatively convey feminist inclinations.
Partner festivals always posses unique place in our programming. This year's guests – Tricky Women/ Tricky Realities Festival (Vienna, Austria), O!PLA (Festival of Polish Animation) and Animafest Zagreb (Croatia) – bring winners, laureates and excellent works of particular selectors' choice to Maribor's high schools in order to talk about animation art face to face with youth. Our men allies, artistic directors Maciej Misztal (Lublin Film Festival, Poland) and Pedro Rivero (Animakom Bilbao, Spain) will add up to the wide range of presented feminist expression with live-action and experimental shorts as well as comic books. Lectures, panels and special gatherings will give us space to discuss our expectations towards combination of animation art and new wave of feminism that floats around various societies. Those primarily interested in specificity of stop motion animation will be meeting film directors during everyday Q&A. Furthermore, StopTrik's traditional delight, “Trik Show” panel about technical aspects of stop motion craft, will be complemented with insight into VR connection with stop motion animation and crush course into music composing for animated film. Youngest audiences will find thrilling introduction to stop motion through various films presented at the Puppet Theatre in Maribor as well as special surprise that will allow them to encounter Chinese traditions of shadow-plays from Sichuan region. While you have to be patient and allow us to reveal names and contributions of amazing filmmakers, speakers and panelists step by step, you can already think about joining practical workshop of stop motion animation led by Serbian duo Ana Nedeljković and Nikola Majdak Jr., authors of acclaimed Rabbitland and Untravel. And naturally, plenty of other special events such as concerts, exhibitions, guided tours, parties etc., should be expected!
If you are wondering what causes stop motion festival to point attention to the question of the presence of feminism in the alluring realm of puppets, clay, manipulated objects and photographs or ephemeral worlds reshaped with every movement of salt, sand, coffee and other loose materials, let us say that the aim here is clear and simple. Let's go beyond social media bubble-hypes and think together what's the meaning of contemporary feminism in relation to medium of our common interest. And let's focus on problems that are relevant here-and-now for all the animation artists who work outside of dominant modes of production. This is why encourage thinking about relations of feminism and animation under two frameworks: aesthetic (“Feminism is futurism”) and social one (“Context matters”).
By their nature contemporary stop motion artistic shorts go counter-mainstream. Market-driven TV and commercial production rarely cares about the flows occurring in the circuit of animation film festivals. The artistic scene liberates creative individuals who pursue their unique needs and visions. But feminist filmmakers, regardless gender, do something more: they disrupt modes of artistic production praised as canon by experts. When it comes to use of techniques, editing concepts and general habits of perception, feminist animators pay special attention to avant-garde cinematic heritage that throughout decades has kept on shaking and twisting mainstream standards of a “perfect film”. Feminist approach in film arts anticipates future innovations and at the same time explores past experimental traditions. Thinking about Futurism may give us some inspirational context. Phallocentric and male-oriented dominant tendencies of Italian Futurism have been brilliantly demystified by women artists affiliated with various forms and concepts of modernism. Yet even contemporary fine arts and cinema readers haven't fully acknowledged the influence of many daring women and transgender painters, sculptors and writers. History of animated film narrated as a chain of technological developments and changes within national studio systems seems no different. But today's feminist audiences and filmmakers may revise such dominant perspective on specific avant-garde trends (as Futurism) and canon of film history for their own artistic and intellectual benefit. By the examples of curated film programmes we will collectively think about the means and ways of reclaiming crucial notions of modernization and technology, we will search for new sources of vital fervor for transformation of bodies, mindsets and environments. All across the world, new feminist movements spread the last call to resist authoritarian state-powers that accept and/or encourage regressive populists to belittle human rights understood as rights of women, non-normative gender and sexual groups, ethnic minorities and rights of all of those who value citizenship and natural environment more than nationality or religious affiliation. Such activists are becoming avant-garde of the contemporary societies. Let's verify if the animators who are outsiders in the mainstream film production hear this call and give their audiences ways to answer it.
No working environment is free from glass ceiling, pay-gap, disappropriation based on gender and sexual diversity (just to name few work-related major problems feminism struggles against), but it is utmost difficult to react and fight against discrimination when you are a commissioned artist on a short-term contract. Speaking up for yourself might be also very hard for a person fresh from arts academy where one studies how to be an auteur, yet no knowledge is transferred in regard to your rights as an author functioning in capitalist production and distribution mode. While a lot of inspiring discussions go around various forum organized in USA, France and UK, filmmakers from Central-East Europe haven't really formed yet a united front. Perhaps that's because not much of reflection on cultural and economic specificity shaping animator's position has been developed in the region. EU system of support for film creativity provides a lot of opportunities, yet vast majority of artists-workers' reality is the one of a small, independent film studio, alienated from possible benefits that are rather designed for co-production networks grounded in public, financial and media establishments. Animators' working ecosystem is fragile but its landscape strongly turns into feminine one as each year all around the region we see more and more women entering professional schools, graduating, debuting and paving their way forward. While trends advocated by Western-countries based women's organizations are inspiring, and critical analyses of work and culture production structures developed in Hollywood may be eyes-opening, it seems only reasonable to find language and solutions that refer directly to our own daily experiences. Feminist perspective on animation filmmaking goes far beyond questions of individual style or general aesthetic criteria. Feminism is a daily practice of approaching social and political problems in a manner of strong, mutually shared affirmation of human rights, individual freedom and respect towards any marginalized group, areas particularly redefined in recent times in Central-East Europe. Reflecting upon filmmaking practice of stop motion, determined by ability to transform and move once stable matter through means of frame by frame animation, seems as a perfect field for such an exercise. On top of explorations of historical achievements and contemporary trends, we might even acknowledge new ways that may free individual expression and collective empowerment. Perhaps we are just framed within mainstream production status quo, anti-human rights backlash and populist fears, and you can use a Festival as an exit from such kind of reality.
In English and Polish:
Olga Bobrowska, Festival Director, email@example.com, 0048 536 256 157
Michał Bobrowski, Programme Director, firstname.lastname@example.org