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NZ-Made Animated Film Wins Prize in Europe

MEDIA RELEASE: December 19, 2000

New Zealand-Made Animated Film Wins Prize in Europe

An animated film for children which was produced in New Zealand for England¹s Channel Four has won a major European television prize.

The Ring, a half-hour stop-frame puppet animation of Wagner¹s Ring Cycle has won the coveted Prix de Basle special jury award for the Most Outstanding Contribution to European Culture in Television. The award was presented by the European Alliance for Television and Culture on December 5 in Basle, Switzerland.

Director/animator Alan Platt and designer Max Stewart brought the project to New Zealand earlier this year after they were unable to produce it in England for the budget allocated by Channel 4. They found suitably experienced and talented collaborators in Auckland who were able to fulfil the creative requirements within thebudget.

The music was performed by the Auckland Philharmonia conducted by Marc Taddei to a score arranged for the 60-member orchestra by the APO¹s Robert Johnson. The recording was done in the Auckland Town Hall, produced by Concert FM.

The animation was also done in Auckland, with the puppets and sets made by a pool of 10 local model makers, highly experienced from work on offshore productions such as Xena Warrior Princess and Hercules the Legendary Journeys.

Platt, a New Zealander who has lived and worked in London for the past 38 years, says making the film in Auckland was also a lifestyle decision for him. He wanted to come home after being away so long. He worked in the BBC¹s Schools Television department for 28 years as a model maker and animation director.

He subsequently has freelanced as a director and animator for Channel 4, making most notably Fourways Farm, which won a prestigious US Peabody Award among its many international prizes. The last film he completed two years ago in England was Stravinsky¹s Petrushka.

Platt says that as a result of The Ring winning the Prix de Basle, discussions are underway with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to make two or three additional similar productions of European classics, which would also be produced in New Zealand.

He says the animations are seen as an attractive way of introducing children to "high culture" in these days dominated by pop music and video.

The Ring will be offered for sale in the international television markets by Channel 4, so New Zealand viewers may see it if local channels buy it.

Next year, there are proposed exhibitions at the Aotea Centre and Te Papa, and a website to be launched in April.

Contact: Alan Platt, director ph 09 3726211 Sue May, publicist ph 09 834 7242 025 739 318

Note: Alan Platt has photographs available to accompany articles.

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