Stoptirk fills the niche which has been noticed by the artists and professionals. The organizers have received an enthusiastic feedback from authors and promoters from all around the world who have underlined the importance of this specific genre among other animation techniques. The idea of Stoptrik Festival has grown due to belief that one can still sense the undeniable power and magic inherent in stop motion. Despite of current popularity of digital, 3D animation, viewers and artists come back to this genre. Over hundred years ago visionaries such as Georges Méliès, Segundo de Chomón or Władysław Starewicz conducted first experiments with editing slightly different images in order to deceive viewers’ reception. What had started as a visual „trick” soon developed into highly appreciated art form characterized by unique modes of expression, capable to infuse lifeless matter with spirit.

Although it’s impossible to entirely exhaust the diversity of worldwide stop motion in the programme of one festival, the organizers of Stoptrik IFF attempt to embrace the spectrum of various inner tendencies inside the genre. Each title from the 52 selected films stands for autonomous approach towards medium and derives from individual aesthetical background. The term stop motion divides into a number of subcategories. Most obvious distinction could be built upon the choice of material. Beside of most popular puppet animation, which is deeply rooted in a tradition of puppet theatre, it’s possible to single out plastic material animation (claymation), animation of various three dimensional objects, actors and loose materials.
Some subgenres, such as cut-out or animated photography, might be placed on the border between stop motion and two dimensional techniques.

The unquestionable master of stop motion animation, Jan Švankmajer, said: I never call myself an animated filmmaker because I am interested not in animation techniques or creating a complete illusion, but in bringing life to everyday objects. Indeed, there is much more in stop motion than its technical aspects. It contains wide range of emotions, aesthetical approaches and intellectual perspectives. Švankmajer himself described his work as affiliated with the tradition of surrealism. Although Little Otik’s (2000) coherent plot doesn’t directly correspond with André Breton’s concept of pure psychic automatism, in fact Švankmajer’s film might be described as surrealistic par excellence. Stabilized, rational world of middle class married couple from Prague collapses when unfulfilled maternal love revives wooden child who quickly becomes blood-thirsty stop motion monster. Surrealism as a specific aesthetical and intellectual paradigma is strongly related to the nature of stop motion. Surreal motives and treads constantly reveal themselves in works of numerous animators. The logic of dream constructs psychedelic visions of Bruce Bickford’s long awaited, hallucinatory claymation Prometheus’ Garden (1988). It is an organic montage of vibrant, fluid images which unfold on the screen in a disjointed pseudo-narrative, Brett Ingram writes on Bickford’s work. But the surreal atmosphere doesn’t have to defy the cause and effect principle of narration. Marek Skrobecki in Ichthys (2005) and Danny Boy (2010) combines linear story structure with phantasmagorical mood. Surreal provenience is also imprinted in work of Quay Brothers whose films tend to be dusty and blurry as they were landscapes of dreams, half forgotten memories or ephemeral impressions. Their latest film The Mask (2010) is a transgressive adaptation of sci-fi prose overflowed with kafkesque atmosphere. In case of films like Lucía (2007) and Luis (2008) of Diluvio group, Jarosław Konopka’s Underlife (2010) or The Twin Girls of Sunset Street (2010) made by Marc Riba and Anna Solans, oneiric tone turns into nightmare where subconscious fears and anxieties take control over created realities.

Certainly surrealism is not the only important intertextual context within which stop motion functions. As Czech classics Jiří Trnka and Karel Zeman proved, stop motion animation can be a medium of „smuggled” social and political criticism. In The Extinct World of Gloves (1982) Jiří Barta continues this revisionist line creating multidimensional allegory about 20th century totalitarian regimes. It’s significant that the tendency of building animated political parables is a distinctive feature of many productions from former communist countries, among them Slovenian Intermezzo (1960, Dušan Povh) and Anno 3003 (1962, Ivo Lehpamer), Estonian Oranus (2009, Girlin Bassovskaja), Polish Of the Quarrel of All Quarrels (1999, Zbigniew Kotecki) and Esterhazy (2009, Izabela Plucińska).

On the antipodes of social and political focused films lay intimate psychological dramas like Benigni (2009, Pinja Partanen, Jasmiini Ottelin, Elli Vuorinen), Viliam (2009, Veronika Obertová), Inside (2009, Ivan Ivanovski) or Grandma (2007, Masanori Okamoto) as well as lyrical, humoristic, sometimes nostalgic works of Špela Čadež (Mate to Measure, 2004; Lovesick, 2007), Natalia Brożyńska (Shivering Trunks, 2010) or Laurent Gorgiard (The Man With The Dangling Arms, 1997). Primal cinematic qualities innate to stop motion are conducive to the autothematic reflections on the nature of cinema itself. Władysław Starewicz in The Cameraman’s Revenge (1911) and Virgil Widrich in Fast Film (2003) ponder over the phenomena of film medium while artists such as Mile De Gleria, Bruno Collet or Katarína Kerekesová in their „stop motion pictures” deconstruct Hollywood genres and narrative models of gangster comedy (The Bank, 1960), thriller (Calypso Is Like So, 2003), war film (The Day of Glory, 2007) and musical (Stones, 2010).

Stoptrik IFF aims to become an active member of a network of animated film festivals and a platform of artistic exchange. We cooperate directly with Animateka and have gained international partnership with Krakow Film Festival and Etiuda & Anima IFF. Se-ma-for FF remains our true friend. Stoptrik cooperates also on the local level with Zavod Udarnik, an association devoted to developing artistic cinema structures in Maribor. We have gained support from our national and international promoters – Mestna Občina Maribor, The Embassy of The Republic of Poland in Ljubljana, Slovene Film Archives (Archives of The Republic of Slovenia), Office of The Republic of Slovenia for Youth (Ministry of Education and Sport) and Maribor European Capital of Culture 2012.