In 2005, when Anifest was first organised, the event was like none other in the field of animation. Eight years down the line, the festival remains just as unique. “Artistes and their craft remain the focus of the festival,” reveals Ranjit Singh, founding trustee, The Animation Society of India (TASI). But over the years, TASI’s festival has grown from “a one evening affair that brought artistes to discuss what ails the industry” to a two-day event, which serves as a great platform for students as well.
“There is no better way for students to meet and converse with professionals who might not be accessible to them under normal circumstances,” says Singh. “The idea is also to boost the morale of animation students who have recently graduated. The recession has hit the animation and effects industry to an extent. But the situation isn’t as bleak as it seems,” adds Akshata Udaiver, honorary secretary TASI.
A piece of the Pi
One of this year’s biggest highlights is a session by the Rhythm and Hues team. “The team had a significant role to play in the making of the virtual world in Life of Pi. The session will reveal just how they created the characters, the environment and also their interactions with director Ang Lee,” says Udaiver.
This session is a part of the extremely popular behind-the-scenes segment of Anifest, which will also include a look at the making of Pacific Rim. Singapore-based Adam Lee from Lucasfilms has been invited to tell all about the effects that made the sci-fi film that much more impressive.
Polish filmmaker Damian Nenow, part of the brigade of international speakers at Anifest, will divulge details about the creative as well as technical aspects of making his award-winning short film Paths of Hate.
What TV wants
Animation on the small screen will receive special attention at the festival this year. “There is going to be a panel discussion about animated television content -- what’s working, what to look out for, what’s needed,” divulges Arnab Chaudhuri, filmmaker and former creative director of Disney. Apart from Chaudhuri, the panel will include Anu Sikka from NICK India and Krishna Desai from Turner Networks. “Last year, during a similar session, the panellists were grilled about the state of animation films in India. We expect a similar session from students this year,” laughs Udaiver, adding that the sessions are always kept as informal as possible.
The festival also includes a Young Innovators segment. “We invite young people from the industry to submit innovations they have made to their daily tools to help them in the field of animation. For instance, last year, we had a young chap talk about reinventing the lightbox,” says Singh. Young animators from across the globe are also invited to submit short films they have created for the Viewer’s Choice Award. “We screen the films at the festival and viewers are asked to vote for their favourite,” explains Udiaver.
Over the years, the festival has been incorporating arts affiliated to animation as well. “From gaming to graphic art and comic books to technology, we aim to cover as many arts as possible,” says Singh. Although the team is selective about the speakers they bring in, every year they attempt to broaden the spectrum of topics we touch upon. “Over the eight years we’ve been organising this event, I’ve never witnessed a session that hasn’t lived up to the expectations. The speakers always make every effort to come up with gems of stories that are invaluable to even the most seasoned professionals,” he adds, recalling a session they had with Malaysian cartoonist Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid last year. “He’s the equivalent of India’s RK Laxman. He’s in his 60s but has the enthusiasm of a child. His zest for life was truly inspiring,” Singh recalls.