At the Student Centre’s French Pavilion the press conference took place, announcing the 30th World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb 2020, set for 28 September to 3 October at SC Cinema, &TD Theatre, Kinoteka and many other venues around the city. The film programme consists of over 300 films from 40 countries, and alongside prestigious competitions, it includes a focus on Hungarian cinema, Masters of Animation section with retrospectives of Georges Schwizgebel, Pavao Štalter and Croatian classics from 1972, the celebration of the Annecy festival’s 60th birthday, Animafest PRO with Animafest Scanner VII symposium and masterclasses, three exhibitions and a comprehensive Children and Youth Programme.
Jury members and guests of honour, Croatian films in international and Croatian competitions and details of attractive programming were presented by the festival’s artistic director Daniel Šuljić, festival producers Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, head of the City Department of Culture Milana Vuković Runjić, and authors of Croatian films in Animafest’s competitions: Matija Pisačić, Tvrtko Rašpolić, Lucija Mrzljak and Kata Gugić. A message from the Student Film Competition sponsor, Zagrebačka banka, was also heard.
Daniel Šuljić welcomed the guests on behalf of the festival, which has been among the top ranks since 1972 and is one of Zagreb’s most significant cultural events, reminding that Animafest’s Grand Prix qualifies for the Oscars, European Animation Award and Annie Awards. Over 1800 entries were submitted for Animafest 2020. With special pleasure Šuljić highlighted four Croatian films in the strongest competition category: Arka by Natko Stipaničev, the Croatian-Serbian co-production Murder in the Catheral by Matija Pisačić and Tvrtko Rašpolić, the video The Closing Door by Lucija Mrzljak for the Oscar and Emmy winner Glena Hansard’s song, and the Croatian-Estonian Toomas beneath the Valley of Wild Wolves by Chintis Lundgren. He also underlined the names of animation classics of all generations, Andreas Hykade, Piotr Dumala, Theodore Ushev and Atsushi Wada, whose films are screened at Animafest 2020. He also mentioned the diversity of animation techniques and colourful themes.
Šuljić said that the Grand Competition Short Film jury, judging the world championship in animation, includes the French producer and programmer Clémence Bragard, the animation journalist and film music producer of intriguing biography Nancy Denney-Phelps, Italian filmmaker Martina Scarpelli, the Croatian experimental film classic Vladislav Knežević and the young Hungarian animation star Réka Bucsi. They will be working hard at judging 40 films from 27 countries.
The Student and Croatian Film Competition juries united to consist of the French filmmaker and programmer Laurent Crouzeix, the Chinese-born French artists Hefang Wei, and the director, producer and professor from Banja Luka, the designer of Animacycle Mladen Đukić. While in Zagreb, Scarpelli, Bucsi and Wei will also give masterclasses intended for professional filmmakers, but also open to broader public. The masterclasses, seven of them, including Peter Ramsey’s on the making of the Oscar-winning film Spider-man: Into the Spiderverse, are part of the Animafest PRO section, whose pinnacle, like every year, is the international symposium on contemporary animation Animafest Scanner VII (29 and 30 September, &TD Theatre), also free and open to the public. Scanner consists of three panels, particularly attractive being ‘Women in Animation’, and the invited speaker is the winner of Animafest’s Award for Special Contribution to Animation Studies, Chris Robinson.
All the Student Film Competition screenings, including 40 films, are free thanks to the sponsorship of Zagrebačka banka.
Zagrebačka banka has recognised the values of Animafest Zagreb which has, over the course of its 30 editions, become one of the key animation festivals globally and a place teaching children, young people and adults about the values like creativity, exchange of ideas, innovation and diversity. This is why this year we are again supporting it and making warm-up open-air screenings possible, as well as admission to all the Student Film Competition screenings and the Award for Best Student Film. Now more than ever it is important to support significant cultural projects. Despite all the challenges the organisers had to face this year, we congratulate them on their organisation and look forward to the festival opening – said Zagrebačka banka in their statement.
Šuljić also underlined several films in the Student Competition, for example the Polish Portrait of a Woman based on a poem by the Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska, also one of the films hailing from the Polish School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, the winner of the Animafest 2020 Best Animation School Award. In Student Competition, our country will be represented by Kata Gugić (Cockpera) and Sunčana Brkulj (I’m Not Feeling Very Well), while a comprehensive insight into the current Croatian animation production can be found in the Croatian Film Competition with a total of 19 works, including, for instance, new films by Marko Tadić and Lucija Bužančić, and many student films from the Department of Animation and New Media of the Academy of Fine Art in Zagreb. A special screening will be hosted on 1 October (SC Cinema, 10pm) for the Croatian premiere of Dalibor Barić’s feature-length film Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus.
Matea Milić spoke about Hungary’s animation cinema – the country in the focus of this year’s Animafest. Six comprehensive sections curated by animation historian Anna Ida Orosz encompass over a hundred years of the rich animation history of this neighbouring country, with a special accent on women’s film.
Among the festival’s guests of honour, this year more than 70, Paola Orlić particularly pointed out the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award Georges Schwizgebel, the great master of Swiss and world animation, coming to the festival on 28 September, on his 76th birthday. Schwizgebel is Animafest’s big friend and the author with most awards in the festival history, who decided to join us in Zagreb despite his age and the global pandemic. Animafest’s audience will have a chance to enjoy the beauty of his famous foil technique painting inspired by classic art and music at his retrospective in the Masters of Animation programme, accompanied by the exhibition Master of Poetic Vision from 28 September to 2 October at the Kranjčar Gallery (12-19 h, official opening on 29 September at 6pm). Another important exhibition taking place at Animafest is called Behind the Scenes 2, at the ULUPUH Gallery (29 September – 3 October, 10-20h, official opening on 30 September at 13:30h), gathering making-of works by the filmmakers competing in Grand Competition.
The festival trailer and illustration were also presented at the press conference, this year designed by the Japanese artist Yoriko Mizushiri. Animafest is hosting a retrospective of this animator of idiosyncratic aesthetic, relevant ain volume and significance in the global context as well. The visual identity designers are Ana Kunej and Alma Šavar of the Kuna zlatica design studio.
An important place among the retrospectives of Animafest 2020 is held by the Zagreb School of Animation – along with Borivoj Dovniković Bordo’s traditional overview, this time of 1972, Animafest 2020 pays tribute to Pavao Štalter, one of the most prominent creative personalities of the School. Matea Milić also mentioned the celebration of the Annecy festival’s 60th birthday. The biggest animation festival in the world is screening the best of French animation in Zagreb, as selected by the artistic director Marcel Jean, and the late night WTF programme with radical new 18+ films. To that aim, a large number of this year’s guests is coming from France. Although this year, due to known circumstances, there will be less open-air events than usual, the most important Croatian film festival nevertheless ‘occupies’ many venues across the city. The traditional connection between Zagreb and Animafest was mentioned by Milana Vuković Runjić.
This year’s Animafest is something we find particularly precious, not only because it is the 30th, but also because it takes place in very unusual and complicated circumstances. The festival is stronger than the pandemic, stronger than the constant earthquaking; this year Animafest will be held at various locations and I am particularly pleased that it will be present in many neighbourhoods in association with cultural centres. The list of filmmakers and films is indeed impressive, with over 300 titles. A real downpour of fantastic films and proof we’re not giving up and no hard conditions can make us quit – said Vuković Runjić.
Matea Milić pointed out that Animafest 2020 takes place fully in line with the measures and recommendations to help avoid spreading the COVID-19 virus. Since due to the coronavirus pandemic Animafest 2020 cannot, as it did before, host over 2000 children at the cinema, free online broadcast of the Children’s Film Competition is enabled in schools and kindergartens – another international competition selected by media psychologist Martina Peštaj, who categorised the films by age groups. Apart from the competition, there is also the attractive Family Programme, ideal for watching in the company of parents. Next to Kinoteka, Animafest’s Children and Yout Programme usual venue, on Sunday, 4 October, the Family Programme is visiting Travno, Trešnjevka, Dubrava, Sesvete and Maksimir, as part of the event Animafest in Your Neighbourhood. Admission to all the events at the City of Zagreb Centres for Culture is free of charge. The Family Programme begins on Saturday, 26 September at Kinoteka with Family Programme 1 and at Metropolis Cinema at the Museum of Contemporary Art with the feature film The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily by Lorenzo Mattottti. A workshop of optical toys for children will be held at the French Institute Mediatheque by Antonija Veljačić (3 October, registrations at firstname.lastname@example.org).
Towards the end of the conference, the directors of Croatian films in Animafest’s competitions addressed the media.
We are looking forward to a live screening. We made the film for the audience and every chance we have to screen it publicly gives us joy. Whether Murder in the Cathedral will evolve into an animated serial is up to the interest and cash flow – said Matija Pisačić and Tvrtko Rašpolić.
The Closing Door is an animated film I made in association with Glen Hansard from Ireland. We met in Estonia after his concert. He contacted me because he liked my work. He sent me the whole album I got to choose the song to make a video for – said Lucija Mrzljak.
I got the idea for Cockpera after reading Aesop’s short story. I connected it with opera because I’m a big fan of the theatre, I made set and costume designs. I’m really looking forward to the screening because I developed an interest in animation when I was volunteering at Animafest ten years ago – said Kata Gugić.
Tickets and festival passes can be purchased online at animafest.kupiulaznicu.hr and during the festival at the SC Cinema box office. The festival package at 200 kuna includes a pass for all the screenings except the opening ceremony and Animafest promo materials. The pass can be taken at the Accreditations Office in the SC Cinema lobby from 28 September onwards. A regular ticket for Grand Competition and Best Of is 30 kuna and a ticket for all other programmes is 25 kuna. Admission to Student Competition Film, events marked in the schedule, Animafest PRO and side events is free.