The first international encounter of worldwide workshops took place during the 1983 Annecy Festival with a Seminar entitled Animated Film at School – Tomorrow’s Pedagogy ? and a Presentation of Children’s works by the participants.
It was the first opportunity to gather together a few people who, isolated in their countries, love Animation and want to share that love with children and teenagers. It was the first opportunity to show works made by kids and to get an international exposure for long and exacting labour.
The origin of it goes back to May 1979, when the Annecy Workshop (aaa) holds an unusual session for 10 days before Annecy Festival. Eight professionals from 4 countries have been invited by aaa as instructors of a 32 teenagers class for making a first animated film.
Theme of the film : ‘Childhood’ – as 1979 has been decided Year of Childhood by UNESCO.
The ASIFA Board and its President John Halas accept to give ASIFA recognition and financial support to the initiative. The achieved film is screened in the framework of Annecy’79 Festival, as well as another ASIFA production made by professionals on the same theme. After this result, the ASIFA Board includes the activities of Workshops in its actions and joints them to the Education Commitee.
The urge to create a strong link between workshops around the world is felt along conversations and meetings, as well as the importance of having another encounter.
Along Festivals and meetings an idea born in Tampere, Finland, proposed in Genua, Italy, ripened in Zagreb 1984, is settled in Toronto 1984. The ASIFA workshops will participate in the production of a collective film on one theme. Inni-Karine Melbye, co-Chairperson of the Education and Workshop Commitee, disseminates information about the 85 project.
The second international event takes place at Annecy Festival in June 1985, with a second seminar ‘Animation in School – A communication for Future’ and more important, the first accomplishement of the Commitee : A collective film ‘Animation 85’ : 30 minutes celebrating Animation and 25 years of ASIFA – A celebration made by 200 young people from 12 Workshops in 8 countries. Even more important, the 300 seated theatre is fully booked and among the audience, alongside famous Animators, there are kids, from several countries, the authors of the film.
Animation workshops become definitely part of ASIFA’s activities. Their Group, enthusiastic and active, is strongly structured with its own elected Board and general meetings at ASIFA Festivals.
Edo Lukman, Croatia and David Ehrlich, USA, are appointed co-chairmen of the Group.
The third international event, at Annecy Festival 1987, is the opportunity of another seminar : ‘Filmmakers and Animation in Schools’. Well-known animators participate such as Osvaldo Cavandoli, Kihachiro Kawamoto, Martial Wannaz, Henri Heidsieck, David Ehrlich… who have experienced the tutoring of kids Workshops.
The second international production ‘What does love mean to you ?’ coordinated by David Ehrlich is premiered.
Each ASIFA patronized Festival shows its interest for our Workshops productions and in June 1988, Zagreb Festival includes the third international project ‘Pollution’ coordinated by Enzo d’Alo (chairman of the Group then) in its program.
Some TV channels get interested in airing some kids productions, especially for the fourth project of the Commitee : ‘My Country in Europe’. A project suggested by Raoul Servais, the ASIFA President, on the occasion of the European Year of Cinema and Television. Although only European workshops are concerned, the project brings in newborn Workshops in Europe and the 54 minutes films is the work of 300 young people from 16 countries.
It is premiered at Annecy Festival in May 1989, then aired by several TV channels.
The next and 5th project is immediately launched by the workshop Commitee under the coordination of Jaroslav Baran’s new workshop in Slovakia. It is ‘Traditional Children’s Songs’ which gathers 300 young people from 21 workshops in 17 countries and is premiered at Annecy Festival 1991.
The 6th project, ‘A film on a film’ coordinated by Erling Ericsson, Sweden, is premiered at Annecy June 1993. The Workshop Commitee also presents ‘Anthology of Workshops’ to celebrate 10 years of workshops international activities. The screening includes works from 15 workshops in 14 countries.
The Workshop Commitee’s next step is due to an International sports event : the Lillehammer Winter Olympic Games in January 1994. Under Gunnar Strom’s coordination, Workshops from 16 countries participate in making animated films about Winter Games and Norway and in joining an international Workshop in snowy Lillehammer.
Some new workshops take part, amoung them a Japanese one, led by Sayoko Kinoshita.The Workshop Group has now 2 Workshops in Asia. (China and Japan)
For several months, the 7th international project is prepared, coordinated by Jessica Langford, Scotland. Its theme ‘Children’s Rights’, inspired by U.N. Charter of Children’s Rights, gets the participation of 10 workshops from 9 countries. It is followed by an international workshop on the same theme, organized by Abi Feijo, in November 1995 during Espinho Festival. The film made during the workshop and its 46 young authors (from 5 countries) are introduced to the Festival audience at the closing ceremony.
In June 1996, during Zagreb Festival, the completed ‘Children’s Rights’ is premiered.
In August 1996, Hiroshima Festival dedicates a full morning to workshops with the Special Program in 2 parts : Animation by Children throughout the World and ‘Children’s Rights’.
In May 1997, 3 workshops exhibit graphic work from their kids films in the Annecy Public Library, during Annecy Festival’97. The Commitee also organizes a screening of films from 13 workshops. The general meeting of the Commitee takes place : Sayoko Kinoshita is elected chairperson of the ASIFA Workshop Group.
Espinho 1997 in November, the Group Commitee Board meets and launches the 7th International Project : ‘When the water is sick, the world is sick’. A wide program for the months to come. The final production is coordinated by Sayoko Kinoshita.
In August 1998 at Hiroshima, under the tittle ‘Animation by children of the world’, 19 workshop productions are presented in the official Festival program. 17 countries are represented by 19 workshops.
In November 1998, the Espinho Festival presents a retrospective of ASIFA workshop productions.
In June 1999, the Annecy Festival premieres the 8th Int’l AWG Film “When the Water is Sick, the World is Sick”.
Of course we may be satisfied when we consider that the idea of a single workshop in a small town, in 1979, has moved into an international movement all over the world, including 27 countries and 3 continents.
We can be grateful to ASIFA, its administrators and its artists for their recognition.
But we are well aware of the many problems encountered by the Workshops’ leaders : lack of premises, lack of equipment, lack of funds. Several of them have to drop their workshop activities to make their own films.
Workshops take care of the Future of the Art of Animation by teaching thousands of new spectators and by making young people appreciate and love that artistic expression. The Educational and Cultural Bodies in all countries should be convinced of their important role and give them official support.
But for the time being, our Workshop Group relies on ASIFA Festivals for the proper dissemination of its efforts and activities.
Nicole Salomon, ASIFA Honorary Secretary