Short animated features Bzz, directed by Benoit Feroumont, and Suburbanites, directed by Stefan Vermeulen, emerged as the big winners at the Brussels Animation Festival (Feb 29 - March 11).

Bzz was awarded the First Prize from the French-speaking community, worth BFr100,000, and the Freezeframe prize, worth BFr150,000. Vermeulen's Suburbanites picked up the First Prize from the Flemish-speaking community, also worth BFr100,000 and an award from Flemish state broadcaster VRT which guarantees broadcast on the station.

The festival also nominated the two films which will represent Belgium in the MEDIA Programme's Golden Cartoon Award - Stephane Blanquet and Stephanie Michel's My Cupboard and Siri Melchior's Passport.

The Brussels festival was one of the first to showcase early animation efforts by Tim Burton and Aardman Animations' Nick Park and remains one of the premiere places to see new animation.

"This year, Canal Plus is broadcasting a programme of shorts parallel to the festival. But on the whole, Benelux broadcasters don't show enough animated shorts," said festival director Philippe Moins. "In future, the Internet will hopefully fill the gap."

This year's programme was bolstered by the addition of a series of info-meetings and workshops for professionals under the name Anima 2000. Co-financed by the Belgian Writers' Guild and Brussels 2000, the events attracted professionals and students from all over Europe. Moins is planning to seek out other financiers interested in developing the forum further.

Next year's festival may also feature an international competition and a focus on the market potential for animation in computer games and the Internet.