By: VAF WEB On: December 20, 2019 In: vaf2019-en Comments: 0

By: Marie Teglgaard Hassing

Viborg Animation Festival stands for free animation films in the cinema for kids and adults, free art exhibitions and exciting events in Viborg, which are meant to both entertain and challenge guests to expand their horizon regarding animation, art, and culture. However, VAF also organizes an array of conferences, workshops etc. for professionals from the animation industry. One of the unique events is called NiNoKo, and if you happened to meet a group of singing international artists on their way to the train station on a rainy evening during VAF in September, it might have been the participants from NiNoKo 2019.

Animation artists develop new projects

NiNoKo is an IP development residency arranged by The Animation Workshop and Arsenalet. It means that young artists within games, films, tv, and virtual reality meet in Viborg for four weeks to develop their individual projects, network, and create the foundation for future cooperation. The participants come from Japan, Korea, and Scandinavia – hence the name NiNoKo: Nippon (Japanese for Japan), Nordic countries, and Korea. The artists live and work together for four weeks under guidance of mentors from The Animation Workshop and Arsenalet.

– The participants have worked intensively with narrative strategies, among other things, and pitching their projects together with the mentors. The participants are mostly entrepreneurs or freelancers, which means that many are used to working alone most of the time. Thus, being surrounded with people and receiving feedback constantly is new. It went really well and we got professional results, says project coordinator Agota Végső from The Animation Workshop.

Receiving feedback from other artists and professionals with different cultural backgrounds make a crucial difference for the participants:

– It was interesting to spend time with people who don’t know my background and who use different methods. I needed to explain myself in more detail than when I’m in Japan, because everyone didn’t know my past works and my thoughts. Thus, I needed to think about my work more clearly than usual. I was so glad when everyone understood my ideas, and I also found out what people don’t understand about them, says Yoko Yuki from Japan, who participated in NiNoKo 2019.

Community and communication

Parallel with the professional program, the social aspect is an important part of NiNoKo, as participants are accommodated with a shared kitchen and spend most of their waking hours together.

– The latest years we’ve only had Japanese and Scandinavian participants, but in 2019 we got the Koreans on board, and it has worked out very well. The dynamic was also positive before, but having three nations is simply better and more dynamic than two in regards of getting people to open up, tells Agota Végső.

– I was very happy to share meals, play, and dance together with various kinds of animators and students. I think it is very important that there are different kinds of people, tells Yoko Yuki.

NiNoKo has provided numerous participants with the skills and connections necessary to realize their projects. One example is Mads Vadsholt, who participated in NiNoKo in 2017. He and his team are finishing the game The Forest Quartet right now.

Japanese Jude Kang, who participated in 2019, won The Sunny Side of the Doc Award, which gives her the opportunity to pitch her project to lots of film industry professionals and hopefully find funding for her documentary film “May Jeju Day”. Jude Kang’s project has already been presented on local tv on the island of Jeju, where the film takes place. About her participation in NiNoKo, she comments:

– It was a time to interact with the wider world and people. Personally, it was my first time participating in a residents program, and pitching my project in front of an audience with a different language. It was all a good experience to grow myself, and also a really happy time to share my feelings with the other participants.

 When questioned about the very best moment during NiNoKo, Jude Kang answers:

– The moment when we danced and sang all together when we followed our friend to the train station!