This year the opening film – for the first time – was an animated film: Isle of Dogs by Wes Anderson for which he won the Silver Bear for Best Director. Actually, this was the first animated film to play in competition at any Berlinale. Perhaps this is what initiated a discussion called “Animation film in all Shapes and Colors” with three makers of animated short films: Réka Bucsi, represented with Solar Walk in the section Berlinale Shorts and Ana Nedeljkovic and Nikola Majdak with Neputovanja in the section under Generation 14plus Short Films.
On the fifth day of the festival we met with them in the upstairs room of the Audi Berlinale Lounge to learn about this art. Bucsi, Nedelikovic and Majdak described the slow, intense work, often needing a whole day just to create four to five seconds of film, or a whole year for a 15-minute film. Much is hand-drawn, frame by frame, on a digital tablet, a lonely job, where one sits alone for hours, talking to no one. They try to get a certain feeling or atmosphere across. “In animation you are drawn to different features than in real life,” says Reka. “I don’t want to do animation of something that I can present without animation.” They never throw away anything that they have created. “It’s impossible to imagine sitting for hours to draw something and then throw it away. That’s suicide. You definitely use everything,” said Nikola.
It’s not easy to make a living making animated short films. They look for financing, as well as financial aid from the government. Sometimes they take on commercial projects (e.g., advertisements). Everyone hopes to make a full-length film someday.
I was especially interested in comments on films which combine real actors and animation, having just seen the Chinese film MONSTER HUNT 2 by Raman Hui, which showed in the section Berlinale Special. Here, a small monster named Wuba is the child of a human Chinese martial arts couple in ancient China. They are very proud of their offspring. We meet more characters from both worlds as they interact and together face the sinister lord who succeeds the deceased, sinister king. In the meantime I have seen the new Peter Rabbit film, also a combination of real people and animated animals, which wear jackets and act like humans –and, after listening to the discussion at the Berlinale, I could also appreciate the work which went into this film. First it was filmed with real actors and then the animated animals were added and this must all be planned exactly in order to come together.
This was just one of several discussions in the AUDI Berlinale Lounge. It is set up every year right in front of the Berlinale Palast, the main festival cinema, across from the Hyatt Hotel, which provides the festival offices. On the ground floor is a bar and on the second floor there are seats and small tables, and a stage, as well as a full view of the action below in front of the Berlinale Palast’s red carpet. Food is offered, as well as drinks. There were interviews, discussions about the automobile industry and film, as well as body language, and even yoga on the red carpet every morning. Here, I also heard a discussion about the popularity of digital films on demand entitled “Digital disruption – contenders for content.” I also attended a session called “Absolute Beginner” in which about 25 young people, approximately 8-16 years old, gathered and practiced developing a film script. All sessions seems to attract many young people, no matter the topic. Each year AUDI gives a prize of 20,000 euros to the best short film, which, this year went to Réka Bucsi for Solar Walk (see above).