The atmosphere was charged with both emotions and cinematographic questions, when schoolkids and high school students from Viborg met the directors behind two of Viborg Animation Festival’s highly profiled films. The questions and the English proficiency of the schoolkids impressed the directors.
ANIMOK is a central part of Viborg Animation Festival (VAF), where more than 500 schoolkids from all over Denmark compete at producing the best stop-motion films. ANIMOK also screens animation films for schools and daycares during the VAF week and expands with new events every year. In 2019, one of the new initiatives was to invite film directors to the screenings of their own films.
Belgian-Korean adoption story
On September 24, 2019 the film Approved for Adoption was on. The film is based on the director Jung’s story, who was adopted from South Korea at the age of five by a Belgian family and returned to Korea as an adult to explore his own roots.
Head of ANIMOK, Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen, presented the film and the director, who was ready to answer questions after the screening. Ditte had prepared a number of questions to get the conversation going, but the preparations proved to be unnecessary.
– There were lots of raised hands. Jung was overwhelmed with the schoolkids’ enthusiasm and he was visibly touched by the situation, says Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen.
The pupils asked about Jung’s childhood and adoption, his family’s reaction, and other personal topics. An interpreter was present to allow the kids to ask questions in Danish, but it proved unnecessary, as the kids addressed Jung directly in eloquent English.
– Jung was impressed with the schoolkids’ English proficiency and with the fact that they asked him so many personal questions without hesitating. Maybe there is a little difference in our school culture here? Guesses the head of ANIMOK.
Palestinian refugees in Norwegian stop-motion
Wednesday, September 25, the film The Tower by the Norwegian director Mats Grorud was on. The Tower, which won the VAF best feature award, is a combined stop-motion and animation film, which depicts a Palestinian family in a refugee camp in Lebanon, where they have lived for generations.
Mats Grorud lived in the refugee camp, where he became friends with Abu Hassan and his unusual family, which serves as inspiration for the film. Both the director and Abu Hassan were present in the cinema.
– Some of the schoolkids were very touched by the film and thanked Mats Grorud and Abu Hassan with tears in their eyes. The high school students who participated seemed more interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict and asked questions about the political and historical aspects of the film as for instance whether or not it is ethically correct to depict only the Palestinian side, tells Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen.
Mats Grorud and Abu Hassan were both happy about the enthusiasm of the schoolkids.
– Hearing the questions from the young audience makes me believe that there is hope, says Abu Hassan.
The success will be repeated and developed in 2020
– It’s been some very positive experiences and the teachers ask for longer courses of study in connection with the film screenings. We will work on that in 2020, says Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen.
– If meeting the film directors give the schoolkids an awareness of the fact that they are world citizens and have the opportunity to influence the world with their own stories and technical skills, I’m very happy.
She can’t reveal which film directors Viborg’s schoolkids can meet in the cinema at ANIMOK 2020, but still gives a hint to the theme.
– On the occasion of the Danish-German Cultural Year of Friendship 2020 we have chosen that Reunification will be a repeating topic in the film program and the activities. It plays well with ANIMOK’s overall focus on children’s rights and on children using their voices to change the world around them, concludes Ditte Lundsgaard Nielsen.
ANIMOK is a recurrent part of Viborg Animation Festival, which seeks to give schoolkids the technical understanding necessary to talk about film and a visual language to create film. ANIMOK takes its point of departure in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. ANIMOK’s fundamental vision is to make children aware that they can use their stories and visual storytelling techniques to influence the world.