With confetti and reminiscence of the previous twenty editions, tonight at the Europa cinema the World Festival of Animated Film Animafest Zagreb was officially opened.
Krešimir Zimonić, festival art director, remembered last year’s festival programme. I am most honoured to be the first to welcome the audience and announce the new, 20th edition of the Animafest. This year we had over 1500 submitted applications, but unfortunately not all could be selected. Our selection committees decided to present you with the best 450, said Zimonić. He was then joined on stage by Borivoj Dovniković Bordo, the legend of Croatian animation, the first festival art director, together they remembered particular moments from the long festival history.
The audience was then greeted by festival producers Vjera Matković and Olinka Vištica. Matković thanked numerous partners, sponsors and friends of the festival who helped made it happen.
As a part of its traditional role of the only Croatian festival entirely dedicated to animation, each year the ANIMAFEST is trying to launch initiatives to promote and stimulate national and regional production. I would also like to mention the Animafest feature projects pitching forum, launched in 2007, as well as numerous lectures and workshops for professionals, continuing this year. Special mention goes to the Cartoon East project, including the Animafest alongside five other regional festivals in the Cartoon d’Or family – the only European award for European short animated film. During this festival we will announce the winner of Cartoon East, acquiring direct nomination for the best European animated film, said Olinka Vištica.
Nikša Sviličić, head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre also attended the official opening. My relationship with the Animafest is purely emotional, given that my first duty as the head of HAVC was to open the last year’s festival. The Animafest represents and promotes all the values deeply embedded in the statute of HAVC: workshops, development of regional connections, promotion of animation and new authors, said Sviličić.
Finally, the festival was opened on behalf of the Mayor of the City of Zagreb by his deputy Jelena Pavičić Vukičević, expressing her pleasure that the city supported such an important animation event and congratulating the festival team for successful organisation.
Afterwards, the awards for Best Animation School and Special Contribution to Animation Studies were presented. The 2010 Student Competition selection committee, consisting of Špela Čadež, Thomas Renoldner and Božidar Trkulja, decided to give it to Tokyo University of the Arts. The said school is the best possible representation of the artistic approach to animation. As it is often the case with many other exceptional schools, the spirit of the master, in this case Koji Yamamura, must have had an impact on the students and opened the path towards new tendencies in animation art. The award was taken by the mentioned Koji Yamamura, the acclaimed Japanese animator and teacher at the University, who joined us at the festival and expressed his pleasure at coming to Zagreb and receiving the award. This award is a great surprise for us, partly because the Animation Department began its operations only two years ago, said Yamamura.
The Award for Special Contribution to Animation Studies was presented to Midhat Ajanović Ajan, a PhD in film studies, writer and film teacher who has for many years lived and worked in Sweden. Ajan is one of the most important European explorers of animated film – from animation masters of all classic techniques to the latest trends in this new and dynamic field. Knowing his other activities (literature, drawing, directing etc), the volume and quality of his professional activity in the field of animation is stunning, bearing in mind all the books and studies he has published in Swedish, Croatian, Bosnian, English and Italian, probably even in some other language.
After the opening ceremony, the Animafest Special programme was screened. Through five outstanding animated pieces, this programme provides an insight into the basics of animation techniques, as well as a miniature overview of this year’s festival programmes: films by the “master of animation”, Inspiration by Karel Zeman, Crac! by Frederic Back and Mindscape by Jacques Drouin, followed by Aardman studio’s Creature Comforts by Nick Park and finally, The Monk and the Fish by Michael Dudok De Wit, produced by Folimage studio.