Animators Diek Grobler and Charles Badenhorst of Fopspeen Moving Pictures have just returned from the Ukraine, where their short film Little Bird ABC received the award for Best Animation for Children at the prestigious KROK International Animation Festival.
Based on the ideas and illustrations from a book by renowned South African children’s book creator, Piet Grobler, the film teaches the ABC by the sounds little birds make, in a fun and playfully wicked way. Little Birds ABC was directed by Diek Grobler, with animation by Charles Badenhorst, Diek Grobler and Jansen Lourens.
Grobler is surprised by the film’s success. “It was a film we made in a quiet time in the studio in September 2008, between paying jobs, and we were playing around with techniques. We had to rush a bit towards the end, as Piet wanted to take it to the Berlin Book fair in October 2008. So I always thought I would get back to it and finish it off nicely. The first time I entered it into a festival, I did it as an afterthought when entering one of our other films. Little Birds made it into that festival (the other film didn’t), and won us our first international award, namely Best Animated film for Children at the Tehran International Animation Festival.
The KROK festival in the Ukraine is regarded by independent animators as the creme de la creme on the festival circuit. Not glamorous like Annecy or Ottawa, KROK is an animator’s festival; no producers, buyers or even general public – just animators showing their current work to their peers. Legendary filmmakers like Yuri Norstein, Paul Driessen, Pritt Parn, Nick Park, Bill Plympton and such, frequent the event, which is unique in format: a riverboat sailing down the Dnieper river from Kiev to the Black Sea.
More than a hundred films are screened in five competition categories, and close to another hundred in panorama screenings and retrospectives. Attendance is by invitation only and the festival enjoys a lot of media coverage in the Ukraine and Russia.