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Friday, Aug. 8, 2008

Hiroshima anime gathering highlights Finnish creations


By EIJA NISKANEN

The biannual Hiroshima International Animation Festival, which started Thursday and ends Monday, caters to animation enthusiasts who do not necessarily rush after the latest Evangelion film or crave after round-eyed Sailor Moon girls.

News photo
Puppet life: A scene from Finnish animator Katariina Lillqvist's "Far Away From Ural," which will be shown at the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, which ends Monday. COURTESY HIAF

So this is not your average otaku (obsessive geek) festival, but one featuring the more artistic side of the Japanese animation world.

The main program, an international competition — to be judged by a jury led by Academy Award-nominated Dutch animator Paul Driessen — includes 76 pieces of the best, brightest and most innovative from the world of animation selected from among 1,656 entries from 56 countries. Side programs highlight Driessen's career, student animation from several countries, new Japanese art animation, kids' programs, animation for peace and, this year, several special screenings delving into the world of Finnish animation.

Finland doesn't have a huge reputation for animated films, but this is changing as the formerly small one- or two-person animation workshops that produced short, hand-drawn films, are getting bigger and more internationally known. Several colleges in Finland have also created animation courses in the last decade. Studies in hand-drawn, puppet, mixed media, and 3D animation have raised a new generation of animators, many of whom will be in Hiroshima.

This new Finnish generation of creators move fluently between commercial projects and personal work. Included in the program is Katariina Lillqvist with her puppet animation "Far Away from Ural," which caused a huge media debate in Finland: the film depicts a national war hero who is gay. Others range from a woman's agony over the longest knitting project in history in Laura Neuvonen's "The Last Knit," via Christer Lindblad's clay animation, to CHRZU's Hollywood-movie parody "The Curse of the Remote Island."

For more information, check the festival's Web site at hiroanim.org/en/



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