ANIMAFEST PRO | ANIMAFEST SCANNER V | ANIMAFEST SCANNER V - Panel 1: Animation and Sports
On Friendship and Competition: Use of Sport in Communist Animated Propaganda – Olga Bobrowska, Michał Bobrowski (Jagiellonian University Krakow, Poland)
The paper compares animated films about sport produced in the framework of two opposing variants of communism. The first part is dedicated to the analysis of animated propaganda from USSR and its satellite countries, while the second discusses films realised in Maoist and Post-Maoist China. The main aim of the comparison is to outline key differences in the function of sport within both models of mass-indoctrination. In the most general terms, the use of sport in Eastern bloc propaganda can be regarded on two levels: pedagogy and geopolitics. Hockey and football players, boxers or skiers, together with the foremen, soldiers and revolutionaries became heroes of collective mythology and role models for youth, promoting behavioural patterns based on values of collectivism, self-discipline and team work. But more importantly, sport tournaments became symbolic battles on the Cold War front-lines. Sport provided an understandable narration enabling the masses to interpret the international situation of that period. Triumphs of athletes were meant to prove superiority of Soviet will and physical strength, just as the proclaimed victory in the space race confirmed primacy of the Soviet science and technology. Since animated film occupied an eminent place within the paradigm of socialism realism, it is only natural that sport became one of the reoccurring motifs of popular animated films. The paper will refer to emblematic productions such as Shaybu! Shaybu! (1964, dir. Boris Dyozhkin, USSR), Sport Competition in the Forest (1952, dir. Gyula Macskássy, Hungary) or Bolek and Lolek: Olympics (1983-4, dir. Romuald Kłys et al., Poland).
Status of sport in Chinese propaganda proves essential differences between both paradigms of communism. Maoist doctrine integrated sport with physical education, health care and military drill, while geopolitical strategy of isolation and self-reliance neutralized ideological significance of symbols such as 'enemy', 'world record' or 'victorious representation'. Under the “Friendship first, competition second” slogan, the activities driven by rivalry have been perceived as counter-revolutionary. Cel animation Adventures on Ice (1964, dir. Wu Qiang) in a pedagogical manner advocates for resignation from championship in the name of collective safety. In the early 1970s this political slogan facilitated an opening in the international relations ('ping-pong diplomacy'). Puppet film An Odd Game (1979, dir. Zhan Hui, Zhang Chaoqun) thematizes ice hockey (completely unpopular at that time in China), mocks foreign imperialists (USA and USSR) and even parodies the idea of sport spectacles.
Olga Bobrowska is born in 1987. She is a Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies at Jagiellonian University, Kraków, specialised in classic Chinese animated film and an author of academic articles on the subjects of Polish and Chinese animation. She is a festival director and co-founder of StopTrik International Film Festival (Maribor, Slovenia; Lodz, Poland), a festival dedicated to stop motion animation. She frequently collaborates with other festivals, among them Animateka (Ljubljana), Etiuda&Anima (Krakow), Krakow Film Festival. Film programmes she curated were presented at various festivals and events in e.g. Poland, Slovenia, Croatia, The Netherlands, Finland and China. Her reviews and critiques were published in Polish magazine Kino and international animation magazine Zippy Frames. In 2016 she co-edited the monograph Obsession Perversion Rebellion. Twisted Dreams of Central European Animation.
Michal Bobrowski obtained a PhD in Film Studies at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland in 2010. In 2012 published a book Akira Kurosawa: The Artist of the Borderlands. In 2016 he co-edited a monograph Obsession. Perversion. Rebellion. Twisted Dreams of Central European Animation. Currently he teaches at the Faculty of Philosophy at the Jagiellonian University. He is a Programme Director and a co-founder of StopTrik International Film Festival (Slovenia/Poland), an event dedicated to stop motion animation. He works with various European festivals and cinema institutions as a curator and cultural activist. He wrote numerous academic and popular articles devoted to classic Japanese and American cinema as well as animation. He is also a collaborator of Etiuda&Anima IFF, Krakow, Poland.