January 31st, 2023

SpongeBob, Minions or Peppa Pig – Successful Filmmakers launched Careers at ITFS in Stuttgart


The Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) will take place for the 30th time from April 25 to 30, 2023. Since its beginnings in 1982, it has established as a meeting place, think tank and career springboard for filmmakers and animation artists from all over the world – until today.


Since 1982, the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) has been gathering the international animation scene in the capital of Baden-Württemberg – at that time every two years and since 2006 annually – and has established as one of the most important festivals in the animation industry. This will be celebrated with a selected anniversary programme in Stuttgart’s city centre cinemas and at the Open Air. In four “Best of Animation” programmes, the ITFS will show the range of artists and films of the past years: From talents from Baden-Württemberg in “Best of Locals” to films that have shaped the ITFS to international greats who maintain a long-standing intensive relationship with the festival.


The ITFS as a career springboard


A look at recent years shows just how important festivals and the ITFS are for launching the careers of young talents: The US American Stephen Hillenburg, then a student at the California Institute of the Arts, was represented in the Young Animation competition in 1994 with his film “Wormholes”(1992) and won the prize for the best student film in the “Young Animation” category. In 2009, he returned to Stuttgart as the world-famous “SpongeBob – SquarePants” creator and took over as jury president. Hillenburg was also interested in regional culture: For research purposes for a new film, the ITFS organized him a tour to the nearby Black Forest. In 2018, Hillenburg, who was already working on the third SpongeBob film, was awarded a special Emmy for his contribution to the world of cartoons and animation.


Animator, film director and voice actor Pierre Coffin from France paid a visit to Stuttgart in 1994 and brought his graduation film “We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story” (1993). He was later celebrated, among others, for his work on the animated feature film “Despicable Me” (1-3) and as the inventor and voice actor of the popular yellow “Minions,” who were given their own film series as a spin-off. In 2011, he returned to Stuttgart with a making of and an Open Air performance of “Despicable Me “.


Another example is Mark Baker: “The Hill Farm” (1988) was shown in the competition programme of the ITFS and was nominated for an Oscar in 1990. However, the British animator is best known for the successful children’s series “Peppa Pig” (with Neville Astley and Phil Davis), of which over 100 episodes are currently being broadcast worldwide and whose brand is considered a British export hit.


ITFS films nominated for the 95th Academy Awards in 2023


Once again, the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film proves that its programme is of international quality: Nominated for an Oscar 2023 in the category “Short Film (Animated)” is “An ostrich told me the world is fake and I think I believe it” (Australia 2021) by Lachlan Pendragon – the short film was represented at ITFS 2022 in the programmes International Competition and Young Animation and was nominated for the Lotte Reiniger Award. Another Oscar-nominated film in the animated feature-length category is “Turning Red” (USA, 2022) by Domee Shi and Lindsey Collins. Last year, Stuttgart audiences were able to enjoy the feature-length film free of charge on the large Open Air screen on Stuttgart’s Schlossplatz. Other Academy Award-nominated films will also screen at ITFS this year, and the programme for 2023 will be announced soon. The ITFS is one of the few Oscar-qualifying festivals in Germany. The Grand Prix winner of the International Competition automatically qualifies for the Oscars longlist.