The official opening ceremony tonight at Europa cinema opened the 28th World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb. Between 4 and 9 June, over 400 artistic animation films will be screened at cinemas Europa, Tuškanac and Kinoteka, as well as other locations across the city. The most important film festival in Croatia and one of the four leading animation festivals in the world, was opened, on behalf of the Mayor of Zagreb Mr Milan Bandić, by his special representative, Head of the Department of Culture Ms Ana Lederer.
Like every year, Animafest offers a comprehensive programme with an overview of the finest examples of world animation. This year’s festival also celebrates two important anniversaries: 200 years since the Frankenstein was born and Professor Balthazar’s 50th birthday. The most successful animated project in Croatia and Zagreb is half a century old and still solves all the problems peacefully, as an inspiration to all of us, especially those in politics. Speaking about Professor Balthazar would not be possible without mentioning the great, recently departed, artist Zlatko Bourek. Animation is in Zagreb held in a really high esteem and I am particularly pleased to see another successful year for Croatian authors and producers, with 18 films. I wish all the foreign guests a pleasant stay in Zagreb, our fellow citizens a great festival, and may the best films win. The World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb is now officially open – said Ms Lederer.
Daniel Rafaelić, Head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Daniel Šuljić, Animafest’s artistic director, and Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, the festival producers, addressed the audience at the Europa cinema auditorium, packed with distinguished international animation scene celebrities and representative of the Ministry of Culture, Ms Vjera Matković and other guests.
The Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Paul Fierlinger, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies to Paul Wells, and the Award for Best Animation School to the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). The latter, given at the discretion of the Student Competition Selection Committee, was accepted by Pia Borg and Alexander Stewart, teaching experimental animation at CalArts.
Here at CalArts we are great fans of this festival and this award is a great honour to us – said Pia Borg. A retrospective of CalArts, among whose founders was also Walt Disney, is scheduled for Wednesday, 6 June, Tuškanac cinema (3.30pm).
One of the leading experts in modern and contemporary animation studies, Paul Wells, thanked for the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies:
When I started working in animation, I made a horror series and started writing about animation. The British paper Daily Mail, representing Britain ‘at its finest’, as a colonial and imperial force, said that I was wasting my time writing about animation and horror. And look at us now! – said Wells, hinting at this year’s Animafest theme programme.
Wells is also a keynote speaker at the Animafest Scanner symposium, taking place on 5 and 6 June from 10am to 5pm at the Balassi Institute (2 August Cesarec Street). The award was presented to him by the Animafest Council member Nikica Gilić, who said in his speech that the title of one of Wells’s books is also his life motto – understanding animation.
A true classic of world animation, Paul Fierlinger (82), who made his last flight over the Atlantic only because of Animafest’s Lifetime Achievement Award and the respect he holds for the festival, said when he received the award:
Since 2004, when I was Animafest’s guest of honour, I have visited many other festivals throughout the world, but after a while it became tiresome so I stopped playing the game. I didn’t like the competition and many other things that go with festivals. This award came as a surprise. Although I haven’t travelled for years now, I decided to come to Zagreb, this is such an ego-trip I could not miss it – said Fierlinger jokingly.
Just like Mozart, whose music was misunderstood, said that the people of Prague will always remember him, that is how I feel about Zagreb. Thank you for being true to yourself. This will always be my favourite festival, thank you for remembering me – he added.
On Tuesday, 5 June, at 3.30pm Europa cinema is screening a retrospective of Fierlinger’s works, followed by a Q&A with the author, and tonight at Animafest’s open air screening at Gradec Summer Cinema, his probably most famous film and the winner of Animafest’s Grand Prix, My Dog Tulip, is scheduled.
Fierlinger received the award from the hands of the President of Animafest Council Margit Antauer, who expressed her pleasure at presenting this award to a dear friend. She quoted Fierlinger’s interview made when he first visited Zagreb, in which he mentioned the Zagreb School films as an unattainable role model in the 1960s. Antauer also dedicated a few words in her speech to the recently departed Zlatko Bourek.
After a presentation of the jury members, the ceremony, directed by Mario Kovač and marked by the celebration of Professor Balthazar serial’s 50th birthday, was wrapped up with drinking up Balthazar’s potion from a test tube, a screening of Short Film Grand Competition 1 and a Q&A with the filmmakers Alice Saey (Mark Lotterman – Happy), Jelena Oroz (Two for Two) and Mónica Santos (Between the Shadows), joined by the producer of Between the Shadows Nuno Amorim. The Q&A was moderated by Animafest’s ongoing collaborator, the French animation populariser and critic Alexis Hunot.
After the ceremony, Animafest’s guests attended a party at Story Supercaffe, with disco music DJ-ed by Mario Kovač.