The event originally received nearly 1,400 submissions from 45 countries. But the animation festival's penchant for offering the best independent, young, and young-at-heart animators have to offer, remained at the forefront.
The festival's opening film, Arrugas (Spain; 2011), is a perfect example. Directed by Ignacio Ferreras, the 2D film chronicles the relationship of two aging men and their colleagues, their battles with Alzheimer's, and the communal frustrations, humor, and curiosity they all share.
SICAF 2012's myriad art and culture exhibitions have recently emerged as a smart and competent introduction, for many, to the experienced, and in some cases highly-decorated, world of professional cartooning. Celebrated Korean comics artist Kim San-ho, who is celebrated for his science-fiction work, was honored with an exhibition of his original characters and rare manuscripts. The focus was titled, "Special Exhibition: Kim San-ho: The Artist Who Flies High and Dreams Freely." Mr. Kim received the SICAF 2011 Comic Award. Additional exhibitions this year focused on the work of prominent collegiate talent, the history of Korean professional baseball (and its presence in Korean comic books), and individual spotlights on future talents of the local cartooning and animation businesses.
Kim San-ho (top), honored this year;
a still from "Kira Kira" (Japan; 2011)
The new 2D/CG film, directed by Lee Dae-hee, documents an allegorical conflict between fish -- a new guard/old guard dynamic fully wrought by a difficult if cultural array of arrogance, opportunism, anxiety, and more.
Other films at the festival included Alois Nebel (Czech Republic; 2011), a creative piece directed by Tomas Lunak; and the satirical rub George the Hedgehog (Poland; 2011), which walked away with the event's Grand Prize in features.
Highlights of the Professional Short Films segment included "Kusursuz Hayat" (or, "Flawless Life," Turkey; 2012), about a homeless man's lucky day; and "Kira Kira" (Japan; 2011), a beautiful music video produced by Tange Films that tracks a girl "born from a spirit of tears" who must overcome her loneliness.
There was also "Oedipus" (Canada; 2011), directed by noted artist Paul Driessen; and the highly graphical black-and-white production, "Sumo" (France, Belgium; 2011), directed by Laurence Braibent. Braibent's five and a half minute item exhibits the exposed, ritualistic, dance-like art of the sumo. Notable award winners in the professional shorts section included "The Maker" (Australia; 2011), which took home the Grand Prize, as well as the latest from perennial entrant Erick Oh, "How to Eat Your Apple" (Korea, U.S.; 2011).
from "Yugeshou" (Japan; 2012), top;
and "Elia" (France; 2011)
"Rail" (UK; 2012) was another highlight of the student film category, as a traditionally animated 2D item sporting the tale of a train conductor who discovers an orphan girl on the tracks.
"Ice Sculpture" (Korea; 2011), by Ham Wan-sik and Kim Jin-a, was a rather interesting piece about a penguin that carves a new mate out of ice to replace his deceased beloved. From France, "Elia" (2011) was a creative item by Matthieu Gaillard about a girl who leaves for a trip with her papa. Gaillard's spring/summertime colors are a highlight.
The competition dedicated to commercial animation as well as commissioned projects featured several familiar titles: Grenadine & Peppermint (France), Hungarian Folk Tales (Hungary), Nina Patalo (France), and Mia and Me (Germany), all of which have blossomed nicely over the past few years in their native and nearby territories. Taiwan's fast-rising Studio2 Animation Lab had multiple entrants -- Barkley the Cat (2010) and Little Doo (2011) -- the first of which obtained SICAF 2012's Jury Special Prize. Interestingly, of the nearly thirty items competing in TV/commissioned segment, none were from the Americas, north or south.
The Seoul Int'l Cartoon & Animation Fest's SPP serves to lend producers a sense of perspective, providing them with criticism as well as optimism about their approach to the international cartoon marketplace.
Giggle Garage (Selangor, Malaysia) emerged out front of SPP 2012 with their preschool series proposal Origanimals. The CG series is the latest in a new string of early education properties that opt for a papercraft visual style; Origanimals in particular, endeavors to educate children about wildlife through the adventures of four fun and creative characters on Planet Origami. Giggle Garage was honored with the event's Best Planning Award. The series is currently scheduled for broadcast in Winter 2013.
In MauseCorp, viewers find the comical exploits of two mice, Gonzo and Lucas, who are fascinated with scientific exploration. Their adventures often result in exploding beakers and factories overflowing with chocolate, but at the end of the day, their humorous attempts to understand science (as it is known to mice) results in a few productive notes on the wonders of experimentation.
French studio Planet Nemo Animation is intimately familiar with the demands of the SPP, having appeared in Seoul for the event several times before -- both for TV projects as well as feature films. This time around, the company was building awareness for Chicky, a hilarious short-form item about a little ball of fluff that always finds itself in uncompromising situations. Each one-minute episode is a kind of game. Where's Chicky? Environmental clues -- extraordinary wind, a moving floor, a buzzing sound -- hint that the clumsy but curious baby chick is in danger of a vacuum cleaner, of being cooked in a microwave, or is stuck in a beehive. Chicky is ever the optimistic one, but doesn't always know what's going on around him.
Previous SICAF Event Coverage: 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.