Well, since then the festival has grown by leaps and bounds, because Stuttgart is the home of Mercedes-Benz, and they are one of the sponsors. The festival takes very good care of the filmmakers and offers some of the largest prizes on the festival circuit.
It was a busy week for me in Stuttgart this year - I had my new feature "Revengeance" (co-directed with Jim Lujan) in competition, plus two new shorts, "Cop Dog" and also my environmental music video "No Snow for Christmas" (music by Maureen McElheron). Plus, "Guard Dog" was included in their "Best of" animation program. And then, as I was taking a break on the giant lawn, I saw my film "The Loneliest Stoplight" being projected on the jumbo outdoor screen. Finally, they had a work-in-progress presentation, where I showed clips from my upcoming feature, "Slide" - so all that should give you an idea about how busy I was!
Recently, they've added a new section called FMX - basically, a gathering of artists interested in special effects, games and new technology. This year, the emphasis was on virtual reality. The FMX has become a giant magnet for digital artists from all over the world, and that only adds to the prestige of the Stuttgart Festival.
Because of FMX, I got to hang out this time with a lot of my favorite filmmakers, like Peter Lord and David Sproxton of Aardman fame, Jan Pinkava of Google, Jean-Michel Blottière (the manager of FMX), Joanna Priestley, Ann Marie Fleming, and my new favorite animator, Robert Valley. I went to his (very) late-night presentation and was blown away by his style, storytelling and sexy women. He lives in Vancouver, so I rarely get to meet him - it was great to hang out with him a bit.
But the "creme de la creme" came on the closing night, when I got to honor the great Bruno Bozzetto with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He's been such an inspiration to me, so it seemed perfect for me to present him with this prestigious award. And what a modest gentleman he is - definitely check out his short films, and of course, his classic feature, "Allegro non Troppo".
I want to personally thank the festival team for making me feel so comfortable in Stuttgart. The only bad part of the festival was that the weather sucked. The last time I visited Stuttgart, it was very hot. So this year I only brought shorts and t-shirts, then felt like an idiot all week.