Meknes animated film festival welcomes Disney animators

Friday 08/04/2016

Meknes - The 15th International Ani­mated Film Festival of Me­knes (FICAM) welcomed Walt Disney animators Eric Goldberg and Roger Allers to honour them for achieve­ments in animated cinema.
Goldberg was feted at the festi­val for achievements throughout his career. He co-directed Dis­ney’s 1995 feature Pocahontas and was the supervising anima­tor for the character Louis in The Princess and the Frog and Rabbit in Winnie the Pooh.
“It’s just a great pleasure to be here amongst animators and artists. I’m beyond hon­oured,” Goldberg said.
Khalil Gibran’s The Proph­et opened the festival, which ran over five days in late March, at the French In­stitute in the Moroccan imperial city of Meknes. The nine-part animated feature was produced by actress Salma Hayek and written and directed by Allers.
The Prophet, pub­lished by Gibran in 1923, is one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold more than 100 million copies. It is a book of 26 prose poetry es­says and has been translated into more than 40 languages.
Allers conducted a workshop during which he went through many Disney feature films in which he played a major role in the design of the structure and dialogue, in­cluding The Little Mermaid, Alad­din and Beauty and the Beast.
More than 50 short and long ani­mated films were showcased dur­ing the festival, including 2016 Ce­sar-nominated animations Adama and Avril et le monde truqué (April and the Twisted World).
Directed by Simon Rouby, Adama depicts the story of a young boy who lives in a village in West Africa. He sets off across Europe to look for his older brother who disappeared during World War I.
The festival has a focus on animated documentary with a special screening of the feature film The Magic Mountain by Ro­manian director Anca Damian.
French director Bastien Dubois, Oscar-nominated in 2011 for his short film Madagascar, Carnet de Voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary), showcased an ex­hibition of original drawings that were used in the making of his film and for animated series for public Franco-German TV network Arte.
FICAM also began the first French writer in residence for animated films, a programme that brought together six young writer-directors from Morocco, Madagascar, Leba­non, France, Belgium and Canada.
Xavier Kawa-Topor, general dele­gate of the Nouvelles Ecritures pour le Film d’Animation (NEF) said the one-month writing residence is a first in Morocco. Six residents will be coached and mentored on their short film projects.
Workshops were organised for schoolchildren and supervised by the Annecy Workshop of Animat­ed Cinema (AAA). Nadia Talah, an animator from AAA, said the work­shop aimed to introduce future spectators to the art of animation, showing them traditional tech­niques such as making characters with plasticine.
The programme included an in­ternational competition of short and animated feature films, Carte Blanche dedicated to professionals or institutions of the animated film, a series of conferences and round tables, exhibitions as well as train­ing workshops for students from art and audiovisual schools in Mo­rocco.
Japanese animator Yoko Kuno led a three-day training workshop on rodoscopy techniques during which she worked with ten stu­dents on videos based on a relay system. She cut a sequence into dif­ference parts. Each student had to work on a series of images related to a part of the sequence.
The goal was to allow students to try the formal possibilities of the digital alteration of the image with the use of Photoshop software.
Issam Lehayeh, who studies at the Fine Arts Institute of Tetouan, said he came to the festival to ac­quire news skills and expertise from professionals in animated cin­ema.
“Morocco is still lagging behind in cartoons and animation. FICAM is the perfect opportunity to bridge this gap,” Lehayeh said.
Mohamed Beyoud, artistic direc­tor of the festival, said FICAM had created a loyal audience of children and their parents since its incep­tion.
Unlike the other international festivals, the red carpet was not rolled out for the stars of animated cinema, breaking the formal barri­ers between the audience and the renowned artists.
“FICAM has now become one of the most important events world­wide in animated cinema, drawing some of the most talented directors and animators such as Isao Taka­hata, Eric Goldberg, Peter Lord and Roger Allers,” said Beyoud.
FICAM, which is organised by the Aicha Foundation in partnership with the French Institute of Me­knes, is the first festival dedicated to animation in Africa and the Arab world.