The Trailer of the ITFS 2023

Rolling marbles out of bounds, spirals and loops, plus white and green figures coming together and celebrating: The official trailer of the 30th Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film goes online and awakens anticipation for the ITFS anniversary edition. “Out of Bounds” is the name of the official trailer, which will now be shown online and in cinemas across Germany. It was created and realized by animation artist Merlin Flügel.

Interview with Merlin Flügel

How long have you known the Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS) and how are you connected with the festival? What does it mean to you?

The ITFS has accompanied me as a filmmaker for quite a while. Here I have already been able to present some of my short films in the past. I was very happy about the opportunity to design and realise this year’s trailer for the anniversary edition of the ITFS.


How did you come up with the idea for the trailer?

To me, this tension between chaos and order is what makes a festival tick, and I wanted to pick up on this feeling in my trailer. Animated short film in particular is so versatile that as a viewer of a short film programme you have to engage with so many different ideas within such a short space of time. This is often an emotional rollercoaster ride. It can be overwhelming, sometimes thrilling, sometimes you are overcome by chaos. As for me, that’s what makes short film so transformative and exciting as an art form.


What is the message behind the marble run motif?

The marble run is subject to certain rules and follows a certain track. But the real fun begins when unforeseen things happen. When balls derail and the track develops a life of its own. This playful chaos in order I found to be interesting and fitting when applied to a festival.


This year’s festival motto is “Animation connects”. In your opinion, how does animation connect people?

The trailer to me is also about letting yourself get carried away and getting involved with something new. For me, animation is a medium that cannot be assigned to a certain age group or any other specification. Animation is very permeable and can reach a diverse audience. As someone producing animated films, animation certainly always brings me together with other people, because even for the smallest of productions, the exchange and collaboration with others is usually required.


What or who has influenced and inspires you?

Films such as “The Holy Mountain” by Jodorowsky or “Stalker” by Tarkowski are so visionary and multi-layered in narrative and imagery that even years later I keep discovering new aspects that somehow inspire me as a filmmaker. Beyond the world of film, it’s often music that puts me in a good mode for ideas. For the trailer, I had the great pleasure of working with musician and sound designer Michael Fakesch. I’m a big fan of his work and the exchange was really great. Many ideas and situations on the image level were ultimately inspired by the music as well.


The ITFS celebrates its 30th anniversary in 2023. What are your wishes for the festival in the future?

With its 30 editions, the ITFS is of course an institution in the animation scene and as such a great meeting place for all those interested in animation and for its creators. I wish the ITFS that despite its size and tradition, it will not lose sight of what is actually progressive in film and that it will remain open to breaking new ground in the future.



Merlin Flügel lives in Berlin and works as a freelance director and animation artist. His short films have a handmade character and have already won many awards – including at the Festival d’Animation Annecy. His short film “Rules of Play” was screened in the International Competition at ITFS 2019. He is part of the animation collective GOGO TANDA together with Jonatan Schwenk and Marc Rühl.

Michael Fakesch is responsible for the electronic music of the trailer. The music producer, sound designer, DJ, lecturer and film music composer was one of the founders and members of the electro duo Funkstörung and has already worked for Björk, Wu-Tang Clan, Jean-Michel Jarre, Notwist and Nicolas Winding Refn. Fakesch has also created the music for the ITFS trailers several times in past festival years.