'Muto' leads International Competition

Adam Elliot’s Australian drama “Mary and Max” won the AniMovie section amid a slew of prizes unveiled by the 16th Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film, which wrapped Sunday.

Italian production “Muto,” animation artist Blu’s surrealistic short showcasing animation on city walls in Buenos Aires, won the Intl. Competition.

The six-day fest unspooled 650 films, including Tony Leondis’ “Igor” and Henry Selick’s “Coraline,” which was such a massive draw that organizers set up a second screening on Saturday night after the first sold out, according to fest co-director Dittmar Lumpp.For the first time, this year the festival ran parallel to visual effects confab FMX, and the combination proved successful. The fest and confab sold 750 combined tickets compared with 100 last year, when the two events partially overlapped.

An estimated 8,000 accredited visitors and some 50,000 festgoers attended the event, one of Europe’s biggest animation and effects confabs.

International animation producers from around the globe attended the FMX and the fest’s joint Animation Production Day, which hosted more than 600 one-to-one meetings to discuss 30 projects with a total production volume of E140 million ($190.6 million). This year’s Animation Production Day expanded its focus to include series, games and mobile content in addition to film.

Fest co-director Ulrich Wegenast said the mix of “big cinema and professional get-together” was a treat for auds and industryites alike.

“The eager interest among fans for ‘SpongeBob’ creator Stephen Hillenburg, ‘Coraline’s’ maker Henry Selick and ‘Bolt’ director Chris Williams surprised even our prominent guests,” Wegenast added.

Hillenburg served on the fest’s Intl. Competition jury, and Selick presented “Coraline,” while Williams was on hand to take part in the event’s special Disney Lectures.

In the fest’s new prize category for synchronization, added this year, actor Benno Fuermann (“North Face”) won for his voice work as Puss in Boots — originally voiced by Antonio Banderas — in the dubbed versions of “Shrek 2” and “Shrek the Third.”

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