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Young animator awarded for short about child soldiers

2 juni 2009
Bart Verlaak has won the Raoul Servais Award for best young animator for his short Peponi. The 23-year old graduate from the Media & Design Academy in Genk was surprised and very honoured to receive an award linked to this living legend of animation.
The jury of the Raoul Servais Award appreciated the personal commitment of Bart Verlaak in making Peponi. 'He gives us an insight in the body and mind of a child soldier, instructed to kill day after day. (...) The film provokes reflection and plays with the social relevance of child soldiers in a subtle way. (...) The jury is aware of the fact that commitment is the personal expression of a collective involvement, and typical of the oeuvre of Raoul Servais himself', states chairman Johan Swinnen in his report. The young filmmaker received his award at the Staf Versluys Centre in Bredene, close to Ostend. An exhibition of the work of Raoul Servais is presented at this venue until September 6th. Peponi was the graduation project of Bart Verlaak at the Media & Design Academy, a small department of the Catholic University of Limburg (KHLim). 'We started out with 15 students', Bart recalls. 'Four of us graduated , so we had a quite personal coaching in our last year. Our department is rather focused on training students to work in a commercial environment.' Bart Verlaak After 3 years of education in animation, Bart had to choose a topic for his graduation film. 'I had read an article about a man who was a child soldier himself. He was abducted by the rebels in Uganda, later he was freed by a non gouvernemental organisation. As an adult he started to work for a NGO himself to help child soldiers leave their duty. One quote in the article kept lingering in my mind: the man said every day he wondered whether he would go to heaven on the day he will die. So that became the basic idea for Peponi. To get some basic information about the subject, I contacted 'Kindsoldaten vzw', an organisation which tries to help child soldiers. Right after he graduated, Bart started to work at Prismax, a Lommel based company that creates (amongst others) digital background visuals for live shows. 'I had worked there already as a student', says Bart. I would like to make another animation short but right now I do not see how to combine this with my job'. LINKS Watch Peponi on Youtube Raoul Servais exhibition