This year, the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), one of the most important international animation film festivals in the world, will be held on-site for the first time in two years from 3rd to 8th May. The festival will also wait yon on online platforms, “” and in “ITFS VR Hub”, as same as last year.

In this article, you can read the highlights of ITFS 2022 from Prof. Ulrich Wegenast, the Managing Director, Programme, of the film festival. We hope that this article could help you prepare to get the best out of ITFS 2022.

Interview with Ulrich Wegenast

Hideki Nagaishi (HN): Could you please let us know the highlights of ITFS 2022, from your viewpoint?

Ulrich Wegenast: At ITFS 2022 we offer a huge diversity of programmes. The different curators of the special programmes like Waltraud Grausgruber (Women in Animation) and Mark Shapiro (Best of Animation) offer a wide perspective on artistic animation. I am really pleased by the curation of the Focus Austria which is a great mixture of artistic animation, avant-garde films and contemporary animated music videos. Other highlights are the online talk of Nick Park, Alison Snowden and David Fine in the context of the jubilee programme of the National Film & Television School in Beaconsfield, UK and the presentation of the project The House (produced by Nexus Studios for Netflix) with Marc Roels, Niki Lindroth von Bahr and Paloma Baeza.

HN: Could you please let us know your impression and opinion about the films ITFS submitted for this year’s competitions?

Ulrich Wegenast: With around 2,100 entries we had a new submission record for ITFS! So, there seems to be no real cut in terms of production because of the Corona crisis. The topics of the short films have become very dark and often deal with dystopia and decline. Sustainability, indeed, is a big issue in animated film, and some of the films managed to deal with this topic in a humorous way. There have been some great submissions from South and Central America. In the feature film category AniMovie, the European art house animated films have been very strong – dealing with social topics and historical events.

HN: ITFS 2020 and 2021 were held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What have you learned from the online version of ITFS, and how did you reflect those lessons to the programme for this year’s hybrid version of ITFS?

Ulrich Wegenast: During the Corona crises, we had to deal with a complete new situation and have been one of the first animation festivals which provided an online festival by beginning of May 2020. It was a real challenge, but also a great opportunity to re-think the festival and invent new formats! The online versions gave us also the possibility to refresh and renew long existing contacts and friendships. It was astonishing how passionate the professionals and the audience exchanged with each other with the help of digital tools. We created a combination of online media library, live stream event and Virtual Reality hub for coincidental meetings. Especially, our ITFS VR Hub was an interesting addition to the normal digital formats like video conferences. In a survey, which we made after the two online version of ITFS, 95% of the audience demand that we keep our online offer… So, the next festival will be really hybrid with a lot of interesting and exclusive online programmes, exhibitions and workshops.

HN: Do you have any messages for the general public and professionals who will attend ITFS 2022?

Ulrich Wegenast: Even if we live in difficult and hard times because of Corona and the war in Ukraine, the ITFS wants to give some joy and inspiration not to suppress the political situation but to create some positive energy! Especially animation is a medium of peace and understanding. The upcoming festival will be a little bit more decentralized but offers more meeting places for social gatherings and personal exchange. We see that the general public and the professionals are really keen to be back at an on-site festival. With the online offers of our hybrid ITFS, the stay at the festival is more comfortable, effective, and sustainable…

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