If you’re not a hardcore animation buff, you might not know that last Sunday was John Polson’s Tropfest. Proudly proclaiming itself to be the world’s largest short film festival, Tropfest draws in filmmakers from all over the world to present their original works. (The fact that it’s held in Australia is just a bonus.)
Anyway, Tropfest is a big deal. And this year the big winner was one Steve Baker. Right now Baker should be basking in the glory of his win, but instead, he’s been under fire. Now, before you click on that link? Let’s see if you, brilliant reader, can figure out why.
Baker’s winning short is entitled An Imaginary Life. (A lot of people are fans of a little show called Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.)
Baker’s protagonist, pictured above, is imaginary. And his name is Andrew. He’s blue. (Fosters’ protagonist is imaginary, named Bloo, and blue.)
Baker’s piece is Flash-style animation. (Foster’s is Flash-style animation.)
It certainly sounds… coincidental… but I think film ick got it right:
There are plenty of differences between the stories, notably that Imaginary Life adopts a pseudo-documentary aesthetic (well, as far as an animated film can) which is very different to the graphic, classical stylings in Foster’s Home.
As much as I’d hate to see Craig McCracken getting ripped off, I think Baker has done so only by accident, if at all.
Tropfest officials seem to agree; their released statement said:
During the initial pre-selection period, the possibility of perceived similarities was identified by the festival but, after subsequent checks with the filmmaker, we were satisfied that An Imaginary Life was an original work that met all entry requirements.
Steve Baker, the director of the winning film, is a three-time finalist of Tropfest and a filmmaker whose integrity and body of work is respected by John Polson and the entire Tropfest team.
Congratulations, Mr. Baker. When you have some time, you might want to check out Foster’s Home. I think you’d enjoy it.