Saturday, November 13, 2021

Cartoons Underground 2021 Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary from 20 to 27 November 2021

It is Cartoons Underground's 10th Birthday this year! To celebrate this joyous occasion, South-East Asia's biggest independent animation festival has expanded to a 7-day event from 20 to 27 November 2021. It will run as a hybrid event, with both in-person and virtual segments.

Cartoons Underground, the brainchild of Singaporean festival director Vicky Chen and celebrated American animator Patrick Smith, launched a decade ago with just a 2-hour animated movie screening session. Through the years, as interest for animation grew, the event included workshops and panels, as well as the annual Golden Durian Awards for excellence in animation. It was boosted to a 5-day virtual event last year, despite of restrictions due to the pandemic.

This year's National Day has shown the kind of magic our homegrown indie animation studios can do, so the festival provides a great opportunity to give them more exposure. Not only that, Cartoons Underground offers opportunities to connect animation art students - most who come from NTU and LASALLE - to the industry's professionals.

We always believed Singapore had this huge potential to be a hub for independent animation for the entire region,” she says. “When we launched Singapore was trying to tempt the big international studios. But it’s the independent studios that have stayed and ten years on we’re seeing more and more people buying into our vision,” says Vicky Chen.

Cartoons Underground 2021 will still centre on the screening of new animated short films. The screening helps to showcase and introduce an eclectic range of animation films to local and global audiences. These films are in contrast to the easily marketable styles by Disney or Dreamworks, or even some anime, that many are already familiar with.

Included in the festival programme are two international competitions. One of the notable entries for the international competition is The Visit by Morrie Tan (LASALLE College of the Arts BA(Hons) Animation Art), an intimate stop-motion story about a girl and her thoughts whenever she visits her father in prison. Red Dot Diva first watched The Visit as part of the seven animated short film anthology Spectrum, which was co-produced by Singapore-based Robot Playground Media and Malaysia’s The R&D Studio. The Visit draws you in with quiet emotion, and the film has already received awards and is currently in the film festival circuit.

Tan Wei Keong, Programme Director of Cartoons Underground, also recommends checking out other entries, like Canada-based director Liza Desyatkova's Don't Think About Her. “It magnifies the agony of having a crush on someone and I love it that the director pushed the film over the edge to a laugh-out-loud effect,” Tan says.

There will also be a screening of films from students at Singapore’s NTU and LASALLE. In addition, the anniversary celebration will provide a nostalgic throwback of some of the very best films shown at Cartoons Underground over the last decade, including those by Singapore creators Sarah Cheok's The Growth and Davier Yoon and Joshua Tan's witty A Brief History Of Time. Incidentally, the latter is one of Tan Wei Keong's favourites.

It's a joy to rewatch it a million times,” he says. “I always discover something new in the process. It's a gem in the local animation scene, so it's the perfect short to open the retrospective program.

The expanded programme also includes three online panels about careers in animation. They are:

Developing the animation industry: The role of education (23 Nov, 8pm) looks at how Singapore’s animation industry can bring on the next generation of talent.

Beyond Animation: What’s next for creative graduates? (21 Nov, 2pm) brings together animation graduates who’ve built successful careers.

Future of monetizing in animation (25 Nov, 8pm) looks at the ways the new digital economy lets animator make money from connecting directly or indirectly with audiences.

On this weekend and next weekend, Cartoons Underground 2021's partner *SCAPE is hosting a four-day development lab on-site and providing Zoom webinars on topics including Non Fungible Tokens on Animation. On the last day of the festival (27 November, 1 PM SGT), *SCAPE Gallery will be hosting a limited in-person screening of animated movie TATSUMI. The film about Japanese manga artist Yoshihiro Tatsumi, was directed by local auteur Eric Khoo.

Ten years really flies by when you’re having fun,” says Festival Director Vicky Chen. “Cartoons Underground really has been a labour of love. But seeing the reaction of audiences, following young animators as they embark on their careers, and watching indie animation really take root in Singapore is awesome payback for everything the CU team puts in.

Tickets for Cartoons Underground 2021 is already on sale! To view the animation films and panels online, buy your ticket from this link -

More details about the festival are at Cartoons Underground's website at!

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