The International Summer Animation Workshop is a collaboration between students and teachers from three countries: the United States, France, and the United Kingdom. The program came about because of our desire to give university students the opportunity to travel and challenge themselves by working with their international peers on a communal, creative project.
As a student myself, I had the good fortune to live in France for two years, the first spent in Caen, and the second in Annecy. I hoped later as a teacher to be able to offer my students an international experience that would broaden their worldview as it had my own. With this goal, I first brought a group of animation students from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) to France, in 2005, to attend the most prestigious animation festival in the world, held at Annecy, in the French Alps. We talked with local members of the Atelier de cinéma d'Animation d'Annecy et de Haute-Savoie to gather material for a short film that was to explore stereotypes and clichés in the hopes of scratching below the surface to gain unanticipated cultural insight.
The workshop expanded the following year through the participation of animation professor Claire Fouquet of l'Ecole Européene Supérieure de l'Image, located in Poitiers and Angoulême, France. Students from both schools joined energies for a week-long workshop with the aim of exploring themes of cultural difference and miscommunication. This exchange was strengthened when during my sabbatical, in 2009, Professor Fouquet and I exchanged teaching positions at our respective schools for a semester. This initiative precipitated a formal exchange agreement for both faculty and students. Later we were able to extend the duration of the workshop and were joined by students from Glyndwr University in Wales, United Kingdom, under the tutelage of comics instructor Dan Berry.
The result has been, over the past several years, an eye-opening, creative experience for both students and faculty members. Under the pressure of a project deadline, we spend two intensive weeks confronting language barriers, overseas coordination efforts, thematic discussions, onsite work interactions, and a host of other exciting, frustrating, and exhilarating aspects intrinsic to this shared experience.
In addition to the hard work involved in the atelier, University of the Arts students spend three nights in Paris and a week at the Annecy festival, making for a well-rounded experience. While the majority of workshops have taken place in France, UArts also hosted the French team in 2011, and was in turn hosted by Glyndwr in 2012.
Unfortunately, due to lack of funding, there was no 2013 workshop. Because of this, we are reaching out to potential donors, especially those with an interest in promoting franco-anglo-american relations. This is a unique workshop in animation and we believe the benefits to our students are significant and worthy of support. Our goal is to use art, specifically animation and related disciplines, as the means to explore cultural difference, with the ultimate aim of encouraging nuanced understanding, tolerance, and enthusiasm between young people, so that they may better prepare themselves for a future where intercultural knowledge is increasingly essential.
Please feel free to contact me, Christopher Magee, at the following e-mail address should you like to learn more about the workshop and support the project:
links to our institutions: