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Friday, March 20, 2009

Free of cash concerns, Estonia produces top-class animation

Staff writer

A collection of witty and cynical animation films from Estonia are taking center stage at Laputa Asagaya, an art-house theater in Tokyo's Suginami Ward.

News photo
Unique: "Karl and Marilyn" will show at the Laputa International Animation Festival. © EESTI JOONIS FILM

Now in its 9th year, the Laputa International Animation Festival will run through April 11 and showcase 38 works from the Northern European nation. The former Soviet republic, despite its population of 1.3 million people, has a reputation for producing high-quality animated films, with its works being well received at a number of international film festivals, according to Shino Furuya, who is organizing this year's festival.

"In Estonia, the government provides financial backing for animators and therefore the artists are free from pressures of commercialism," Furuya said, noting that the plots are often more complicated and less predictable than their mainstream counterparts. "The creators' individual tastes are strongly reflected in their works. And (the movies) are very different from the kind of 'anime' people are used to in Japan."

Of particular note are a compilation of short films created by Priit Parn, a widely-acclaimed cartoonist/animator, who mixes black humor with surrealism and eroticism. Other works include films featuring clay dolls as characters.

Admission is ¥1,200 for adults, ¥1,000 for senior citizens and high-school/college students, and ¥500 for junior-high school students and younger. For more information, call the festival organizer at (03) 3330-3122 or visit: www.laputa-jp.com/laf/

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