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INTERFACE ANIMATION FESTIVAL, DURBAN 2005 (article first published : 2005-06-28)

Article by Mike McFadyean (Interface – Technical)

In 2004 I had the idea to establish some sort of Durban animation group. This was based on the fact that I was lecturing Digital Design and Animation at a few Durban colleges and there did not seem to be any outlet for the student’s work; some of which had merit and in my opinion deserved some airtime somewhere.

It seemed to me that all animation roads led to Jo’burg and Cape Town and that Durban was being left out of the equation, even though I was aware that animation was alive and striving here.

So I established a totally informal network called the Durban Animation Network. This basically was my attempt at getting animators together and gathering material into some sort of showreel for presentation. The Durban Animation Network showreel consisted of student work from Durban colleges and was screened at the 2004 Durban International Film Festival at one of the smaller UKZN venues.

The event was poorly attended and I came away realising that I perhaps I was not the person to be driving this idea. So I approached Robin Opperman (Director of Umcebo Trust) who I knew was the best person around to take an idea and turn it into a success. Robin agreed, so I disbanded the short-lived Durban Animation Network in the knowledge that the seed idea was in capable hands and I could get back to my comfort zone and concentrate on technical assistance and my own animation work.

Robin is also a board member of the Alliance Française (Durban), and suggested that the Alliance take on the idea and turn it into an animation festival. The idea being to have a modest screening of submitted animations at the Alliance premises. They bought the idea and gave Robin carte blanche to grow the project into something noteworthy; which he did with enormous success.

The Durban International Film Festival was consulted at an early stage and they immediately adopted the idea and suggested that the animation festival become the animation component of the Film Festival.

The idea of an animation festival in Durban rapidly gained momentum and as synchronicity would have it, everything aligned perfectly; the UNESCO animation conference was scheduled for around the same time, the animation festival fitted perfectly into the DIFF schedule, the amount of submissions we received made up almost exactly to the last second the amount of time we had allocated for the showreel.... as they say – “it’s all good”.

We worked on developing a web site, name and strategy for marketing the festival within our limited budget and resources. Thanks to Robin’s energetic promotion and the assistance of many supporters of the idea, the word spread and animations started rolling in. Over the last few months Robin has been in constant contact with animators and overseas animation festivals and has built up a fantastic network of people passionate about animation and keen to participate in any way they can. The 2005 Interface Animation Festival showreel is scheduled for screenings at a number of overseas animation festivals after its premiere which was held in Durban on June 21.

The entries to the Interface Animation Festival are truly as diverse as the South African cultural landscape. We have animations in all mediums and methods and covering a wide variety of subjects. There is also a generous representation of student work to remind us all that there are great things to come in South African animation in the future. - Mike McFadyean

Interface was extremely well received at the recent Durban International Film Festival. At its screening in KwaMashu at the Ekhaya Multimedia Arts Centre (EMAC) it was presented to a packed house.




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