Estonian animation tour to help Estonian-American children showcase their roots
Funded by a grant from the Estonian Ministry of Culture and the Estonian American National Council, Animation Generation, a three-person animation team from Estonia, will be traveling across the United States to visit local Estonian Schools and communities and help bring Estonian-American children’s visions of their families’ homeland to life.
“This was the best class night ever!” declared Merje Kuusk, a teacher at Harmi Primary School. Kuusk was referring to the Animation Generation workshop held at her school, located about a 40-minute drive southeast of the Estonian capital of Tallinn, on April 22, as the workshop team prepared to leave Estonia to travel to the US on a special month-long animation tour.
The tour, officially dubbed “Animation Generation: the Estonian American Experience,” will provide animation workshops to children of the Estonian diaspora located in New York City, Lakewood, N.J., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Seattle between May 2 and June 4. The April workshop, held with the eight children making up Ms. Kuusk’s class at the Harmi school, was a test run of the portable equipment the team will be using on their trip.
“Animation Generation: the Estonian American Experience” was the brainchild of Kreeta Käeri, who works as an animator and teacher for Nukufilm Children’s Studio. Estonia’s Nukufilm Studios dates back to 1957, and over nearly 60 years has grown to become the biggest puppet animation studio in Northern Europe in terms of studio size, technical supplies as well as number of employees. Käeri has been building puppets and doing stop-motion animation since 2006, and her experiences with children at the Children’s Studio provided the inspiration for her idea to use animation as a way to connect Estonian-American children with their Estonian heritage.
“Animation speaks to everyone in a way that is very accessible,” explained Käeri. “Even the smallest child, who might not yet appreciate Estonian poetry or more traditional art, gets a special feeling watching animation.”
The project can also be followed on social media via Animation Generation’s Facebook page.