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Nextoons Announces Festival Judges

The Nicktoons Film Festival selects judges for this year's festival (May 20, 2005)

The second annual Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival is pleased to announce the judges for this year's festival: Actor Mark Hamill, "Avatar: The Last Airbender" Co-Creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, Director/Animator Mike Gabriel, and Feature Storyboard Artist and winner of the Producer's Choice Award in the first Nicktoons Film Festival Elizabeth Ito. The judges will review the selected films and subsequently award a $10,000 Grand Prize.

"In looking for judges for this year's film festival, we wanted to include individuals with diverse backgrounds in animation, as well as entertainment in film and television," remarks Fred Seibert, Festival Executive Director and President of Frederator Studios, which is a co-producer of Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival. "This year's judges are well versed in a variety of disciplines and share our commitment to supporting and highlighting the best animation talent around the world."

Nextoons Judges
MARK HAMILL became an international pop-culture icon as the protagonist in George Lucas' original "Star Wars" trilogy. His illustrious career encompasses acting roles on stage, television, movies and video games, as well as writing, producing and directing. Hamill has appeared in various Broadway productions such as "The Elephant Man" and "Amadeus," and received a Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for the role of Tony Hart in "Harrigan n' Hart." Other credits include the films "Village of the Damned," "Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back," the recently restored version of Samuel Fuller's "The Big Red One" and "Comic Book - The Movie," which he also directed and produced. A prolific voiceover artist, he has performed in hundreds of TV cartoons such as "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "The Simpsons," "Powerpuff Girls," and the current Disney series "Super Robot Monkeys," in addition to numerous animated features. For the Batman franchises, Hamill was the voice of the Joker for the 13-year run of the animated TV series including the features "Mask of the Phantasm" and "The Return of the Joker" for which he received two Annie Award nominations. Hamill is Executive Producer, Co-Creator and Performer on "The Wrong Coast," a 13-episode showbiz satire currently running on Canada's Movie Network. He is also Co-Director and Animation Director for Treehouse Animation on the film "Revenge of the Brick," a five-minute Lego "Star Wars" short based on characters and situations in "Star Wars: Episode III," which recently premiered on Cartoon Network. He is currently in pre-production on the animated series "Fort Franny."

Award-winning filmmaker MICHAEL DIMARTINO began his training at the Rhode Island School of Design where he graduated in 1996 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in the Film and Animation Department. After relocating to Los Angeles, he took a job as a director at Film Roman where he worked for six years on the primetime animated series "King of the Hill," "Family Guy" and "Mission Hill." During his tenure at Film Roman, DiMartino animated and directed the short animated film "Atomic Love," which has gone on to screen at festivals across the country, including Sundance and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film also aired this year when it was selected to be part of the Nicktoons Film Festival on the Nicktoons Channel. DiMartino is Co-Creator and Executive Producer of "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

BRYAN KONIETZKO attended the Rhode Island School of Design and graduated in 1998 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Illustration. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Konietzko worked as a character designer at Film Roman for Fox's primetime series "Family Guy." He soon moved to Assistant Director for two more Film Roman shows, "Mission Hill" and "King of the Hill" working beside Animation Director Michael DiMartino. Soon after, Konietzko became a Storyboard Artist and later the Art Director for the Nickelodeon animated series "Invader Zim." Konietzko is Co-Creator, Executive Producer and Art Director of "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

MIKE GABRIEL served as director on two feature films for Disney, "The Rescuers Down Under" (1991) and "Pocahontas" (1995). He took his first animation class at Golden West Junior College in Huntington Beach, California, and made his first contact with the Disney Studios at the age of 18. Determined to become a Disney animator, he finally got the chance and began working there as an assistant on "The Fox and the Hound." Gabriel went on to animate "Fun with Mr. Future," a 1981 Disney short, "The Black Cauldron," "The Great Mouse Detective" for which he designed the supporting dog and cat players, Toby and Felicia, and "Oliver & Company." On the latter, he served as Supervising Animator and also contributed to the story and character design. His unit was responsible for much of the exciting chase scene that serves as the film's finale, and the Dodger's song, "Why Should I Worry." Gabriel was nominated for an Academy Award this year for directing and co-writing the Walt Disney Productions short, "Lorenzo."

ELIZABETH ITO graduated from the California Institute of the Arts in 2004. She has worked for many high-profile companies such as Cartoon Network, Mattel and DreamWorks. Her senior year film, "Welcome to My Life," has been shown in festivals worldwide, and won both the Peer's Pick Award at the Cal Arts Producer's Show, and the Producer's Choice Award in the first Nicktoons Film Festival. Ito currently works at Film Roman as a feature storyboard artist on "Yankee Irving." Outside of filmmaking, Ito likes to design toys. She is the creator of Mister Monster, a popular toy being sold worldwide.

About Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival
The second annual Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival will air throughout the entire month of August on Nicktoons in addition to the channel's regular programming. The first on-air festival of its kind, Nextoons screens animated shorts 10 minutes in length and under. The festival also includes an online component allowing viewers to log on to the Nicktoons website and vote for their favorite films.

Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival is looking for a large selection of films created in any style of animation and is currently accepting entries through June 17, 2005. Entry forms can be downloaded at

About Nicktoons
Nicktoons, Nickelodeon's digital home for TV's most popular animated hits, is part of MTV Networks' expanded suite of channels available for digital distribution. Nicktoons' current schedule features a roster of hits that have defined animation lovers' TV for more than 10 years, including "The Angry Beavers," "Rugrats," "Ahhh! Real Monsters," "SpongeBob SquarePants," and "As Told By Ginger," as well as programming original to Nicktoons such as "Corneil and Bernie" and "Kaput and Zosky."

About Frederator Studios
Frederator Studios is America's leading independent animation producer. The company is currently in production on five original cartoons series for Nickelodeon including "The Fairly OddParents" and "Oh Yeah! Cartoons," TV animation's largest development program ever.

For more info on Nicktoons or Nextoons: The Nicktoons Film Festival, please go to


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Related Keywords:Nextoons, Nicktoons Film Festival, Mark Hamill, Michael DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko, Mike Gabriel, Elizabeth Ito, animation, Fred Seibert, Frederator Studios,


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