Estonian animation celebrates 50th anniversary


    Estonia is celebrating its jubilee anniversary of animation production in November with a series of exhibitions and DVD releases, as well as an industry conference including the first World Championships in Animation.

    Professional animation production began in Estonia in 1957 with the creation of the Nukufilm studio (www.nukufilm.ee), one of the first in Eastern Europe to employ stop-motion animation.

    The Nukufilm celebration includes an exhibition, "Having Soul," that opened in the Tampere Short Film Festival in March and then traveled to Dresden and London. To celebrate the 50th anniversary milestone, Nukufilm is also releasing a seven-volume DVD series including digitally restored "best-of" selections of Estonian puppet animation.

    The observance culminates on Nov. 22-24 with an international colloquium, "Voodoo Soul," to be held in the capital Tallinn and featuring such distinguished animation masters as Peter Lord from the U.K.'s Aardman Animations Ltd. (www.aardman.com) and the renowned Japanese director Kihachiro Kawamoto.

    The World Championships in Animation, to held during the colloquium, will pit three-person teams against each other in creating a short animation film following prearranged parameters.

    The first Estonian animation dates back to 1930, but only four minutes of fragments remain of this unsophisticated attempt featuring characters reminiscent of the early Mickey Mouse.

    Nukufilm was originally established as a department of the Soviet-era Tallinn Cinema Studio, later Tallinnfilm (www.tallinfilm.ee), but became an independent studio in the early 1990s. It employs 25 permanent staff and produces four to six short animation films annually, mainly targeted at adult audiences