It's Toon Time in, Oh Yes, Puchon!

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It's Toon Time in, Oh Yes, Puchon!

International Student Animation Festival Opens Saturday

Puchon, an industrial town between Seoul and Inchon, has reinvented itself into a cultural mecca, hosting the annual Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival and, for the second year, the Puchon International Student Animation Festival which opens tomorrow and runs through Dec. 24.

Organizers of the animation festival want to place this event on the international fast track, hoping that a combination of experimental works by emerging talent, retrospective films by established animators and forums for discussion of new trends and the future of animation can attract the interest of the local and international industry and build a significant fan base.

The animation festival showcases 540 films from 21 countries, which will be shown at the Boksagol Culture Center. Lectures and workshops led by Korean and foreign professionals will accompany the screenings. The festival is also a venue for graduating students to display their work and make contacts in the industry. According to Cine Magazine, a local movie industry reviewer, animation scouts will be in attendance.

"Cartoonists and animators don't find success in school," said Park Sae-heong, the festival's art director. "They become successful only by participating in competitions and winning them."

The festival reaffirms its director's view through five competitions that give participants a chance at prizes of 1 million won each ($1000), and a grand prize of 5 million won. Of the 238 entries original entries from 17 countries, 40 made the final cut for the Recommendation competition, one of five screening categories. The other four are titled Trend, Notice, Vision and Memorial. The entries include traditional and computer-generated animations.

"Deadline," is an entry in the Recommendation category produced by a contestant from Sejong University. The 13-minute animation is the story of a 40-year-old toy that tries to kill itself. Failing to get the job done after several bizarre suicide attempts, the toy gives up. Its surroundings, however, suddenly come to life. In an ironic twist of fate, the toy is killed by a metal container used to deliver noodles.

"Images of the Heart," submitted by Youn Joon-sang of Sangmyung University, features a wealthy man who is abandoned by a woman. The three-minute animation details the man's downfall and eventual redemption.

"With Father," the creation of seven students from the Kaywon School of Art and Design, is an animation that addresses sexual harassment.

"Stanley," an entry from England, portrays family life by highlighting its contrasts; a depressed wife, standing in the kitchen, plays with a knife while outside, while her husband Stanley discovers love through gardening.

The Trend competition aims at facilitating discussions related to modern animation trends, accepting entries by students at the Pratt Institute (U.S.A.), New York University (U.S.A.), the University of California at Los Angeles (U.S.A.), the Emily Carr Animation School (France), the Moscow Film School (Russia) and schools from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Winning animations from major movie festivals at Ansi, Hiroshima, Zagreb and Ottawa are included.

Domestic animations, such as "White Soul," will also be shown at Notice. Its message speaks of the friendship between siblings, set in a provincial town. Other Korean notables include "White Dog" and "Bori and Jigu."

Among the Notice competition's notable entries are three of Bill Plympton's feature-length animations - "I Married a Strange Person," "Plymptoons" and "Mundo Plympton." Bill Plympton's off-beat animations have earned him a wide following and a solid base of advertising clients. "I Married a Strange Person" is the animated version of the movie "Pulp Fiction." Grant, a newlywed husband, transforms his thoughts about the supernatural into reality, which gets the attention of a media mogul intent on ruling the world. The mogul sends a paramilitary unit to capture Grant, resulting in a full scale war. (Organizers warn that the film has violent and suggestive scenes.) For an overview of Bill Plympton's classic shorts, there is "Mondo Plympton." The animation is a travelogue in Bill Plympton's mind, complete with autobiographical sketches.

Long and short Japanese features such as "My Neighbor Totoro," by Miyazaki Hayao, will also be shown at Notice.

The Vision competition is dedicated to digital computer animation, emphasizing clay animation, pin screen animation and other special effects. The three-dimensional film "The Galaxy Express 999," one of its entries, is a cooperative effort between Korean and Japanese animators.

The Memorial competition is an homage to the animators who helped turn a children's entertainment into an art form. Entries include archived films from the Association Internationale du Film d'Animation and the International Animated Film Society and the "Kenzo Kinoshita Retrospective Program." Alexander Petrov's puppet animation "The Old Man and the Sea", the most notable among entries, was nominated for an Oscar. Mr. Petrov used 29,000 hand-painted oil-on-glass images in his creation.

Additional events at the festival include digital and sand animation workshops, a rock festival (scheduled for Thursday) and lectures by renowned animators such as Pat Raine Webb (U.K.), Christopher J. Robinson (Canada), Gerben Schermer (The Netherlands), Alfio Bastiancich (Italy), Vesna Dovnikovic (Croatia) and Borivoj Dovnikovic Bordo (Croatia).

The original goal of the Puchon International Student Animation Festival 2000 was to construct a "database of new manpower from the world of animation" and to systematize a network of 50 Korean educational institutions and foreign professional schools, according to the festival programmer, Han Chang-wan, a professor at Sejong University.

For more information call 032-320-2913, or visit the festival's website at www.pisaf.or.kr.

by Joe Yong-hee

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