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Arts and culture

Beirut shedding light on animated films

BEIRUT | - June 15, 2013, 12h27
Par Louise Wernvik
Animations Films are celebrated at Metropolis Empire Sofil Cinema this weekend. The film festival Beirut Animated is hosting its third edition. Lebanese, Arab and worldwide productions will be screened, showing off some on the latest techniques in animation technology.
“Animation film is such a wide universe. It´s really creative in a way you can´t even imagine,” said Rabih El Khoury, managing director of Metropolis Association.

The festival is held every two years, and 2011 years edition was described as a great success. The films presented are produced independently and cover a wide range of different cultural and technical developments in animation.

On Saturday, June 15, a panel discussion is held, where the audience gets to see and talk to animators, film makers, illustrators and interesting people in the field. The discussional event is free of charge but not the screenings, which are 6000 LBP.

“We have good experiences with animation and we want to share them with the audience. Each and every person can find a film that they like here,” El Khoury said.

Here are all the details of this year’s program:

I. Selection:

International feature films:
The festival will be inaugurated with the French award winning film The Rabbi’s Cat by Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux. Sfar is a much-admired comics artist whose comics have been widely praised and translated into numerous languages. The film adaptation has won the César for Best Animated Feature at the 2012 Césars Awards as well as the Best Animation Feature at the 2011 Annecy International Animation Film Festival.

Two independent American features will be presented during Beirut Animated 3: Consuming Spirits by animator, producer, editor, and composer Chris Sullivan. This self-made stop motion and cutouts film took more than a decade to be produced. It was selected at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2012 and is still touring festivals around the world. It’s Such a Beautiful Day is a feature film by leading independent animator Don Hertzfeldt. This film is based on his shorts trilogy Everything will be OK, I Am So Proud of You and It’s Such a Beautiful Day.

As to the closing film, the festival is proud to present a worldwide animation classic, Akira, by legendary comics artist, animator and filmmaker Katsuhiro Otomo. This visionary 1988 film, an adaption from the eponymous cult Japanese manga, has challenged the rules of animation to become a cult reference in the realm of animation, inspiring not only animation cinema but also filmmaking at large.
As with every edition, the young audience has a privileged place in Beirut Animated. The muchacclaimed Ernest et Celestine by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner will premiere during the festival. Based on the popular children’s book by Gabrielle Vincent, the film was selected at the Directors’ Fortnight at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival and has since then won a string of international awards. It tells the story of an improbable friendship between a bear (voiced by Lambert Wilson) and a mouse (voiced by Pauline Brunner) that try to become best friends. The film will be released in cinemas across Lebanon on June 27, 2013 by Gulf Films.

Lebanese and Arab films:

During a special evening, seventeen Lebanese and Arab short films selected by the festival’s artistic committee will be screened to the public. The festival is proud to present the world premiere of Burj El Murr: Tower of Bitterness, newest short of Lina Ghaibeh, one of the leading animation figures in Lebanon. The editing and the sound of this film have been handled by acclaimed versatile artist Rabih Mroue. Canvas on Mixed Media, the latest short of established and singular Syrian artist Jalal Maghout, which made it to the Short Film Corner at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, will also be screened.

Arab animation films are touring prestigious international festivals such as the short of Lebanese artist Gheith Al Amin’s The King Lost His Tooth which premiered at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival while L’mrayet by Tunisian director Nadia Rais premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in 2012. Rais has previously screened her acclaimed L’Ambouba in the first edition on Beirut Animated.

In addition to established artists, Beirut Animated also presents the works of emerging talents, some of whom are studying in their home countries like Lebanese artist Bassel Fatayri (Stranger at the Door) or outside such as Jordanian artist Zeina Azouqah (If You Leave) who is studying in Europe or the Lebanese Rachel Mouawad (Inside Out) who has just wrapped her animation studies in Canada.
International films:

In addition to feature films, the international section includes short films, many of which have won top prizes around the world. British films A Morning Stroll by Grant Orchard and Making of Longbird by Will Anderson have been awarded the Best Animation Short Film at the muchcelebrated BAFTA awards in 2012 and 2013 respectively. As to the French animation Comme des Lapin by Osman Cerfon, it won the Jury Special Mention at IndieLisboa in 2013, one of the leading independent festivals in Europe.

Beirut Animated 3 also offers the public to discover original and well-crafted animation techniques, rarely seen on our screens. In the Dutch animation Oh Willy, Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels use wool animation to portray a return to one’s roots with subtle yet overwhelming emotions. American artist Corrie Francis Parks skillfully uses sand animation in A Tangled Tale, pushing this animation technique to uncharted territories.

The festival is also honored to present Drunker than a Skunk, the new short by acclaimed international animation guru Bill Plympton. Beirut Animated has screened his feature Idiots and Angels to much acclaim in its second edition.

II. Around the selection:

In addition to the film selection, Beirut Animated 3 will be paying tribute to the late Ray Harryhausen, the towering figure in the history and evolution of motion-picture special effects.
His work has inspired the likes of George Lucas, Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg. Harryhausen died on May 7, 2013 at the age of 92 and has been known for works such as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad which will be screened during the festival.

Beirut Animated 3 will give a carte blanche to historian, animation critic and music producer Nancy Denney-Phelps. She will be presenting Toons and Tunes, a program on short animation musicals from the 1920’s until today.

Faithful to its tradition, Beirut Animated will give the public the chance to revisit their childhood classics in the special session reserved for Japanese anime series dubbed in Arabic. In this edition, Zeina wa Nahoul, Al Amira Yaqout and Lady Oscar will be screened, as a tribute to legendary leading female figures.

III. Parallel activities:

Animation workshop to produce a collaborative short film

A workshop is taking place between June 6th and 12th during Beirut Animated 3. Established Arab animators are collaborating together for a period of a week to produce a short animated film. The workshop is a collective attempt to move the train of the Mar Mikhael station which has ceased to function since the beginning of the Lebanese civil war. The process will combine various animation techniques, allowing each participant to work with his own style.

Panel discussion
In the framework of Beirut Animated, a panel discussion about the independent animation scene in Lebanon is held to understand the different factors that influence its production and how it can be further activated. The panel will gather several prolific speakers representing educational institutes and production companies as well as established animators and animation studios.
(Saturday 15 June 2013 from 4 to 7PM at Metropolis Empire Sofil)

Animating the city with Waraq Collective
The Waraq Collective will be animating Beirut with some unique events around the city and it is inviting passersby to join them for exciting experience.

Hully Gully Zoetrope
This unique happening will be taking place at the Luna park of Rawcheh. Hully Gully will be transformed into a huge zoetrope interacting with anyone curious enough to live this experience. Those interested to see how animation all started would not want to miss this. The date will be announced on the Festival’s Facebook page:

Waraq is a multidisciplinary collective focusing on the combinations of illustration, animation, art direction and performing arts.

Interactive animation
Approximate Feast is an interactive video by Lantian Xie, in collaboration with Hala Ali. This interactive video depicts a group of men eating a traditional meal comprised of a lamb laid atop a bed of rice. When the viewers are at a distance, the group of diners eats feverishly. When viewers approach, the diners become timid until they stop eating entirely. This work was previously exhibited in the UK and the USA.
At Metropolis Empire Sofil, throughout the duration of the festival.
#Beirut_Animated, #Animation_movies, #Beirut_festival
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