15th Animation Division Critiques
Becoming an art festival that nurtures talent and sends it out to the world
This year's was a challenging screening process for two reasons. The first was the inconsistency of the viewing conditions employed -- the need to review an enormous number of works using a variety of media formats. This is a situation born of our transitional age and its mix of web-based submissions, expected to further increase in the years to come, with DVD and Blu-ray media. The second is the contradiction, one growing ever more conspicuous, inherent in trying to judge on the same stage works that are heir to a tradition of animation as commercial product together with independent works that value the "different," including those evolved in an art tradition centered on the individual creator. The struggle for the Grand Prize between PUELLA MAGI MADOKA MAGICA and Muybridge's Strings, I think, is a symbol of this.
The animated short film category for which I was responsible was notable perhaps for the overall decline in the number of entries and the concentration among them of submissions from distinguished French and German schools. Also remarkable was the dearth of entries from surging Asian countries. Although 3D computer graphics are often used in the pursuit of artistic expression overseas, where group work is the norm, in short-form works from Japan I sense a tendency for the creativity of young talent to remain inhibited by faith in work that is "hand-made" by individuals and an attitude of negativity toward technical skill. I'm sure there are steps that the national government could take in moving toward a solution. At the same time, there should also be further debate about what should guide the Japan Media Arts Festival in conveying to the world a style of its own.
I hope that initiatives like the New Face Award that was inaugurated this year, as well as the talent development projects conducted for previous young award-winners, will further spread the word about the growing importance of the Japan Media Arts Festival, raising interest among domestic creators and leading to more enthusiastic submission activity in the coming years.