The World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb, the only Croatian A-list festival, whose short film competition Grand Prix winners qualify directly for the Academy Awards, will again make Zagreb the centre of global animation. From 6 to 11 June, cinemas Europa and Tuškanac, Zagreb Dance Centre and open air screenings this weekend at Ribnjak will show over 300 short and feature animated films.
The expression ‘tradition and/or revolution’ is best description of this year’s theme – the Oscars and Animanarchy – Animation in the Raw. More accurately, Animafest will present animation in its punk version, as well as a series of Oscar-winning classics, Croatian Oscar nominees and Oscar-winning films which moved the boundaries of expectations.
This was announced at the press mixer on Wednesday at Swanky Monkey Garden, one of this year’s new locations for side programmes, by the artistic director of Animafest Zagreb Daniel Šuljić and festival producers Matea Milić and Paola Orlić.
On Monday, 6 June at Europa cinema, 19.30, the festival opens with eight short Grand Competition films. This selection is a wonderful introduction to the diversity of this year’s themes and techniques. At the official opening ceremony the Animafest Council will present the Lifetime Achievement Award to the Belgian animation master Raoul Servais, one of the most important innovators and representatives of existentialist animation. On Tuesday, 7 June, Europa cinema is hosting a retrospective dedicated to Servais’ films, followed by a Q&A session.
Servais is one of the 200 guests of the 26th Animafest, among which the most renowned are the jury members. The short film jury this year includes Peter Lord (Pirates! Band of Misfits, Chicken Run), a British animator, producer and director and founder of Aardman Animations studio, of whose 40 years Lord will be speaking on 11 June at Zagreb Dance Centre. Apart from him, the jury includes the Canadian composer Normand Roger who worked on many Oscar-winning projects, the award-winning German filmmaker Raimund Krumme, the Colombian professor and promoter of Latin American animation Cecilia Traslaviña, and independent producer and cultural manager Vjera Matković.
The best feature film will be judged by Justine Bannister, an independent children’s media adviser with stints in companies like 20th Century Fox and Disney Channels France, Marcy Page, who worked as a producer at NFBC on many award-winning film projects, Boško Picula, political scientist and film critic and host of HRT’s TV show Animatik.
The finest student and Croatian film will be chosen by the programmer of the Bucheon International Animated Film Festival Eugene Kim, American animator known for sand on glass animation (of which she also wrote a book she is presenting at the festival) Corrie Francis Parks, and Croatian animator and illustrator Darko Vidačković.
The films from the section called Animanarchy – Animation in the Raw, deemed a revolutionary movement, are introducing deliberate anti-excellence in animation, avoiding virtuosity for the sake of a powerful message. In music these are comparable to punk.
The movement stems from the 1950s and 1960s when animators began testing new approaches and it was the Zagreb School of Animation that made a name for itself with new, progressive ideas.
This section will be presenting films like Bob Godfrey’s DIY Cartoon Kit, a satirical view on animation filmmaking, still relevant in animation industry, followed by Robert Breer’s A Man and his Dog out for Air, the pivotal experimental animation from 1957, and Terry Gilliam’s Story Time, a pre-Monty Python short animated film.
On the other hand, this year technological revolution in animation will be presented at the festival with an interactive VR installation PIEdeck, custom-made for Animafest by its designers. Using the technology of the famous Ars Electronica Futurlab, they created a system which uses laser to turn motion in real space into animation in virtual space.
Technology is also in focus of two workshops: one of projection mapping, taking place at Zagreb Dance Centre. The results will be presented on the last day of the festival. The other is the already traditional video game workshop in association with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. The mentor is Andrej Kovačević, the founder of Exordium Games studio.
Also, for the third time, the festival is hosting the Scanner symposium. Its five panels will gather experts from all over the world. This year’s keynote speaker is Marcin Giżycki, the winner of Animafest’s Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies.
Among the many side events is the exhibition of works by students of the Academy of Media Arts Cologne (KHM), 6-11 June at Schira Gallery, and 7-11 June at ULUPUH Gallery. An attractive 10-hour animation performance Pentagram is hosted on 10 June at Europa cinema’s lobby: five animators gathered around the same table will be making stop-motion animation live.
Traditionally, Animafest features an overview of films competing for the Cartoon d’Or award, a professional honour for the best short animated film of the year. Animafest’s Grand Prix winner directly qualifies for the run. The festival is also screening the most interesting animated music videos (Cinema for the Ear section).
The Croatian master of animation introduced to us this year is Vatroslav Mimica, and the festival is also paying special attention to Croatian animated films made in 1968, selected by Borivoj Dovniković Bordo.
Festival early-bird tickets can be purchased via Entrio (online and at sales points) and at Animafest’s info point in Flower Square and during the festival at the festival ticket office.
Also, festival Animate passes can be bought, allowing admission to all the festival screenings, and Family passes for all the screenings suitable for children. Admission is free to all the screenings at Zagreb Dance Centre, Animafest Pro and side events.