Meknes animated film festival welcomes Disney animators
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.