International Animation Festival 2012

August 23rd~27th marked the 14th biennial international animation festival at Aster Plaza, just down the road from the Peace park. Sir.Peter Lord was the international honorary president this year- who, along with the tireless efforts of co-founder Sayoko Kinoshita and the many hardworking staff, made this year especially spectacular. Of the record number of film entries (over 2000), 66 of the best were selected by an international panel of judges to be included in the competition which was screened for the first 4 nights of the festival and after the awards ceremony on the final night, the winning films were again shown to the animation loving audience. You can see videos clips of the awards ceremony and interviews with a few of the directors at the festival on GetHiroshima’s YouTube Animation Festival Playlist.

It is not only the competition, however, that is worth going to the festival to see- the halls and theaters in Aster Plaza are buzzing with activity from 9am to 9pm on the five days of the festival- showing selected short films following different themes: Animation for and by children, Students works, Disney screening and seminar, Norwegian selection, Peace themes in animation, animation from around the world as well as Retrospectives with leading animation directors where they show and give insights into their work. This year’s Retrospectives and Seminars featured:

  • Peter Lord (of Aardman studios) Retrospective (director of “The Pirates -band of misfits” among many others)
  • A director from Disney ran a seminar and screening of their latest short animation release, Paperman
  • Cartoon Network Seminar – popular children’s cartoon network producer’s screening and talk.
  • ASIFA-Japan’s 30th Anniversary talk and screenings of  Japan’s “founder” of independently created animation, Yoji Kuri‘s experimental animation films, Moomin animation director and independent animator Nobuhiro Aihara (who passed away in 2011) & a Retrospective by puppet animator Katsuo Takahashi.
  • Kine Aune of Kinefilm co. (Norway) Retrospective : famous for her work on Norwegian television creating children’s animation.
  • Aleksandra Korejwo (Poland) Retrospective: Famous for her commercials and work for Disney doing shorts and title sequences with her unique animation style using colored salt.
  • Igor Kovalyov (Ukraine) Retrospective: Famous for directing the Rugrats and the Wild Thornberrys – popular children’s cartoons on Nickelodeon.
  • Marv Newland of International Rocketship Ltd. (USA/Canada) Retrospective: Famous for his commercial work in the US over the years as well as many whacky short films. Watch some of Newland’s shorts here on  You can also see clips from his retrospective here (in English)
  • Anita Killi of Trollfilm studios (Norway) Retrospective: Famous for being a pioneer in the animation industry. She has won many awards including the 2010’s Grand prize award at the Hiroshima festival for “Angry Man”. Her films carry a romantic theme, but also show her passion for peace, friendship, family and justice. See video clips from her retrospective here (English).
  • A seminar (in Japanese) was also held by Yuichi Ito and Koji Yamamura about Animation studies in Japanese universities.

I had the chance to chat with a few directors whose films had been selected for the competition. Among those I talked to, Tim Reckart (USA) who directed the romantic film “Head over Heels” was awarded the “Audience Prize” and Regina Pessoa (Portugal) who directed the film about childhood isolation “Kali, the little vampire” won the “Hiroshima Prize”.

There were many other talented international directors I had a chance to talk with who were unfortunately not awarded prizes at this festival, but whose films hopefully were appreciated by the audience as they had very interesting stories to tell. Johan Oettinger (Denmark) directed the puppet animation “Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto” – a powerful story based on stories from the Holocaust as well as his own childhood experiences.

Alain Dellanoy (Canada) is a teacher of animation and video production in Canada whose hand-drawn film “Fraction” was featured in the “Best of the World” series of the festival. He said the movie was based on a painter he had met in real life as well as his own father- both men who were completely dedicated to and passionate about their life’s work. Dellanoy mentioned he was thrilled to be at the festival and be inspired by the many other directors and films, as well as to see how his film was received by the audience. Udo Prinsen (Netherlands) used fingerprints in the animation, “Audition“, which is a story based on Auschwitz prisoner’s drawings and the relationship between a father and son in the camp.

Marta Pajek (Poland) directed the film “Sleepincord” and said she was inspired to make the film after watching Japanese performers pretend to be asleep and hold each other in different positions while they slept- the concept of which she finds intriguing yet creepy. Dustin Rees (Switzerland) was really enjoying his first visit to Japan and happy to have his film “Borderline” a dark-comedy about a border patrolman who Rees says he felt needed a bit more attention than passersby normally give him. See some of his other films on the YouTube channel “createdindust“. Also from Switzerland was director Claudia Rothlin showing her film using paper and stop motion animation to advertise the Kuubo table.

 2012 Hiroshima Animation Festival Winners

  • Grand Prize: “I saw mice burying a cat” by Dmitry Geller
  • Hiroshima Prize: “Kali, the little vampire” by Regina Pessoa
  • Debut Prize: “Sticky Ends” by Osman Cerfon
  • Renzo Kinoshita Prize: “Futon” by Yoriko Mizushiri 水尻自子
  • Audience Prize: “Head over Heels” by Timothy Reckart
  • Special International Jury prizes for: Chinti (Natalia Mirzoyan), Tram (Michaela Pavlatova), Sunday (Patrick Doyon), Ursus (Reinis Petersons), It’s such a beautiful day (Don Hertzfeldt)
  • Special Prizes for: Muybridge’s Strings (Koji Yamamura), The Great Rabbit (Atsushi Wada), The Little Bird and the Leaf (Lena von Dohren), Howl (Natalie Bettelheim and Sharon Michaeli), Two (Steven Subotnick)

Ciara Long who writes about this year’s festival on JapanTourist writes: If you are in …”Hiroshima during August, and this festival is screening (next in 2014) and are a fan of animation in anyway- I would highly recommend organizing your holiday to include itl. A visual feast for the eyes and mind I came away full to the brim of colors, wonderfully drawn characters and heart-touching stories. It was definitely one of my favorite outings this summer.” I couldn’t agree more with Ciara and also found it a great opportunity to meet some really interesting and creative people, I was inspired by their passion for what they do.


Writing about Hiroshima for over twenty years. Co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999 and founded the sustainability-focused InboundAmbassador business in 2019. Monthly CleanUp and Seeking Sustainability event organizer, guide workshop facilitator, online content creator and tourism destination consultant. Passionate about promoting solutions in Japan for people and the planet.