Singing moustaches, men chasing trees and dolls realizing their manipulated life : here is part of what was waiting for me at the 7th edition of StopTrik animation festival in Maribor, Slovenia. In the four days of the festival there were more than 200 movies, talented artist from all Europe, and of course many different programs: A numerous variety of films for all tastes!
As an amateur in stop motion animation, I just had a blurry preview of the many different available techniques and processes, but no concrete idea of the time needed to produce a movie or about the community it gathered. This edition allowed me to answer all my questions. After discovering the scene of a country during the panorama, we were able to understand the making of thanks to TrikShow: We ended the night by watching Mexicans horror movies (fortunately, tequila shots helped us to stay in the mood).
When it comes to cultural events in Maribor, we can generally notice a lack of curiosity, and the participants are generally the same, most of them being invested for ages in one of the nice cultural places this town has to offer. It’s really a challenge to get people out of their home for something they’re not familiar with, and this mission was for me accomplished during this edition. Stop motion animation is a niche, where a few people spend infinite hours working on few minutes of films. After few days, I realize that artists are sharing their fabrication secrets as FBI agents, and I get why if we consider a 7 min movie can take 7 years of your life! Every tip is good to take, can help you to make a successful scene, save a bit of your precious time or improve a realistic effect. “That’s a geek world baby!” tells Tess Martin when she realizes it’s my first Stop Motion festival. But all this little community is full of passionate people, having creativity as a mantra, and spending time with each of them will bring you unexpected knowledge. It has been great to hang around, sharing a glass of wine between a famous journalist, a puppet maker and a festival director. It was for me a real inspiration of how culture can survive if we all go on celebrating it, and stay united to be stronger.
I was also surprised by how humble and approachable the artists were, always open to a chitchat or to share their point of view on the last competition. If Salon, the theatre screening site, had some air of Titanic during some openings with its stained glass windows and luxury fabrics, this festival kept the atmosphere of a NGO event : The meal was a perfect example: After delicious homemade food, volunteers and artist went to clean their own dishes, without differences or hierarchy. “Animation artist are not rich enough or famous enough to be puff: If Nick Park would walk down the street here, I don’t think anyone would recognise him!” express the journalist Nancy Denney-Phelps in a laugh after I ask her if she’s not impressed to ask for interview. And even if I wish these people were more famous, I hope they will keep this casual and open-minded attitude. It’s great to see that a festival can have talented people and interesting content without searching to be fancy.
Talking about interesting people, I wish we had more time for each session to discuss and debate more, but the intensive programmation didn’t allow us this freedom. However, this speed had the benefit of showing different visions and a huge variety of techniques from all parts of the world. I realize now that these little minutes of movies impress me much more than any regular movie, because stop motion allows every kind of creativity.
“In stop motion, we manipulate the time, we play with it and spin it around” Tess Martin explained to me. It seems really hard to me to get the perfect combination between esthetic, story, animation in itself and time handling (it doesn’t seems so, but 10 min can be very long time if you don’t get it…).
However, clay, paper, wool combined together can transmit strong ideas, bring out our feelings and let us be totally amazed by the infinite possibilities that handcrafting can offers to us. StopTrik, or how to have a shot of talent and be fulfilled with a fresh creative energy for a long time!