These are dark times. The logic of war, of the military and extermination dominates the public. The Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) is also affected by the war in Ukraine. Our hearts bleed. We are not neutral! We fiercely condemn Russia’s brutal war of aggression against a sovereign state. The inhuman attacks on civilians, hospitals, children, refugees, and innocents are unbearable and completely unacceptable.


ITFS has very good contacts in Ukraine and Russia based on the long history of partnerships and cooperation, which is also reflected in this year’s Festival. Until the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, the Krok Festival was a wonderful Ukrainian-Russian event for animation culture. Today we can see that many Russian animators – despite massive repression – have clearly distanced themselves from the war in Ukraine – with all the personal consequences. Our thanks go to these courageous persons!


At the same time, we see the understandable anger of Ukrainians and the increasing hatred, which is more than comprehensible in view of the many deaths, rapes and other suffering inflicted on the civilian population. ITFS is massively urged by Ukrainian filmmakers to remove Russian films from its programme. This wish is understandable. At the same time, we know many Russian artists and animation filmmakers who are critical and represent an important voice in Russia against the war and the Russian aggressors. We are convinced that a country like Russia can only be changed from within. Therefore, we find it difficult to remove Russian films from the programme, as the creators are long-time partners and friends. Many Russian producers have removed the state logos and insignia from their films at our request. We are very grateful for this.


At the same time, we are confronted with the situation that Ukrainian filmmakers withdraw their films from the programme if Russian films are shown. In our view, this perspective lacks differentiation and is also strategically wrong. In our opinion, every critical voice, every form of opposition in Russia should be strengthened and not generally condemned. But that is the logic of war, which hardly anyone seems to be able to escape at the moment.


We are not neutral in this war, but quite clearly on the side of the maltreated Ukrainian people, who are confronted with – all facts point to this – a genocide such as it was no longer thought possible in the 21st century. Therefore, we have decided, with a heavy heart and many doubts, to remove the Russian films from the official programme, insofar as this was still technically possible.


In addition, we try to express our solidarity with Ukraine by presenting the special programme “Ukraine Benefit: Animation by Linoleum” at the ITFS Open Air Cinema (Friday, 6 May, 6:30 pm) and at as well as by participating in the exhibition “Artists Support Ukraine” (28 April to 8 May at VAUND, Schulstraße 17, gallery level).


We can only hope that hatred will be followed by reconciliation eventually, as was possible between France and Germany after the Second World War. We can only hope that this senseless and monstrous war will end very soon!


Dieter Krauß, Prof. Ulrich Wegenast, Andrea Bauer