FMX shows VFX sector in good light

Conference attracts 8,000 accredited visitors

STUTTGART, Germany — The 16th Festival of Animated Film and the FMX visual effects conference kicked off Tuesday in Stuttgart, where some 8,000 accredited visitors and 50,000 festgoers are expected to attend one of Europe’s biggest animation and effects events.

The six-day fest will unspool 650 films, including 12 in the AniMovie feature competition. They are Tony Leondis’ “Igor,” Henry Selick’s “Coraline,” Michael Hegner and Kari Juusonen’s “Niko and the Way to the Stars,” Keiichi Hara’s Japanese entry “Summer Days With Coo,” Adam Elliot’s “Mary and Max” and Thomas Borch Nielsen’s “Sunshine Barry and the Disco Worms.”

Also competing are Guy Dimet’s “Lost in Tel Aviv”; “The Missing Lynx,” from Manuel Sicilia and Raul Garcia (co-produced by Antonio Banderas); Bill Plympton’s “Idiots and Angels”; “Kurt Turns Evil,” by Rasmus A. Sievertsen; “Mia et le Migou,” from Jacques-Remy Girard; and Masayuki Kojima’s Japanese-German co-production “The Piano Forest.”

The fest awards prize money totaling E57,500 ($76,733) in eight categories — AniMovie, shorts, series, works from young filmmakers, children’s pics, commissioned works, screenplay and music.

At the FMX confab, which runs until Thursday, recruitment drives by international visual effects houses including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Disney Animation Studios, Disney Interactive’s Brighton-based Black Rock Studios, London-based Double Negative and Stuttgart’s Pixomondo made it clear that at least one industry is thriving during the global downturn.

“London is calling,” exclaimed Vic Rodgers, human resources manager at Double Negative, which was responsible for much of the visual wizardry on the “Harry Potter” films, “The Dark Knight,” “Quantum of Solace,” “Hellboy II: The Golden Army” and the upcoming “Inception,” “Iron Man 2” and “Prince of Persia.”

“It’s an economic crisis — what do people do? They go to the movies and escape,” Rodgers added. “We have lots and lots of work.”

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