With the official opening ceremony at Tuškanac Cinema, the 29th World Festival of Animated Film Animafest Zagreb began tonight. Between 3 and 8 June at Tuškanac, Kinoteka and Kaptol Boutique Cinema, as well as many other venues across the city, the festival will screen over 400 animated art films, along with many other events. The most important Croatian film festival and one of the four leading animation festivals in the world was opened by the President of the Animafest Council Margit Antauer.
Dear guests, dear friends, dear Animafest family. The 29th edition finds us in this intimate atmosphere, so we can see and hear each other better. Finally, we are not here because of the space, we will enjoy in Tuškanac, Kinoteka and Kaptol. We are here because of the films, and the films are indeed many, which is something to look forward to. May the celebration begin – said Antauer.
In the fully packed auditorium of the Tuškanac cinema, the representative of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Mr Hrvoje Manenica, representative of the City of Zagreb Mrs Vesna Kusin, and distinguished guests of the animation scene were addressed by Chris Marcich, managing director of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Daniel Šuljić, Animafest’s artistic director, and Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, festival producers.
I am really pleased to attend Animafest for the first time. I’ve been hearing good things about this festival for years, but I never had a chance to take part. Now I have the honour on behalf of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre to be a small part of one of the most prestigious festivals in the world. The festival’s status is testified by the support of the European MEDIA programme and the direct qualification of Animafest’s Grand Prix winner for the Oscars. Animafest is full of talented artists, directors and enthusiasts. Since its establishment, thanks to the prestigious production company Zagreb Film, as well as the City of Zagreb, Animafest has counted on enthusiastic support from the lovers of this genre. Filmmakers, professionals, guests from many countries, people who love animation creativity and the world valuing our accomplishments. The recently departed Milan Blažeković, the icon of the Zagreb School of Animation, brought Croatia a special place in the world and for this, as well as for his many works, we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. I will be happy to attend the events and see as many films as possible. And in the meantime, may you have a successful festival and plenty of lovely experiences – said Chris Marcich.
Like every year, we have prepared countless programmes, the best of the old and new films. I wish warm welcome to all our local and foreign guests, many are newcomers, many are our old friends, and we look forward to both. This is the greatest strength of our festival, the position on the international scene and the fact that the guests love us as much as we love them – said Daniel Šuljić.
Organising this festival edition was a bitter-sweet job for us. Bitter because we had to reprogramme our new central venue in a short period of time, and sweet because we work with an amazing team, whom we thank from the bottom of our hearts – added Paola Orlić.
I wish to thank our old/new host, Tuškanac and Croatian Film Association, who responded to our situation incredibly beautifully in every way possible. Thanks to our team who never have an easy time, but in this year’s circumstances what they did is truly amazing – concluded Matea Milić.
At the official opening ceremony the following awards were presented: to Suzan Pitt for Lifetime Achievement, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies to Jayne Pilling and the Award for Best Animation School to the French School Gobelins, l'école de l'image. The latter award, presented by the Selection Committee of the Student Competition, was received by Cécile Blondel, a professor at Gobelins, from the hands of Dino Krpan, who read the statement.
I receive this award on behalf of my school and thank the festival. Two years ago we decided that diversity and exchange will form the future of animation art. That is why we opened an international programme at our school, with two Croatian graduates as well. In 2018 we produced 14 short films in collaboration with French and international students – said Cécile Blondel. The retrospective of Gobelins films is scheduled for Tuesday, 4 June at 15:30 at Tuškanac. It includes 16 films produced in the past 12 years, including the award-winning and Oscar-nominated Oktapodi.
Deeply moved, the versatile scholar, educator and promoter of animation, the founder of the British Animation Awards Jayne Pilling, thanked for the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies with the following words:
I am truly honoured to receive this award. When I was much younger, Animafest was one of the first international festivals I visited. I was a little scared back then, in fact I was frightened because I was not an artist. I thought I couldn’t take part in discussions with filmmakers. I came because I have loved animation. The kindness I received here made me feel that it is really possible to be part of the animation community even if you have no talent and can’t draw. This inspired me tremendously in my future work.
Pilling is the keynote speaker at the symposium Animafest Scanner VI, taking place 4 and 5 June, 10-17, at the Balassi Institute. The award was presented to her by the Animafest councillor Nikica Gilić, who said that the award went to an author whose work on the promotion, study and sharing of animation globally inspired generations of animation lovers. The author of books on the subconscious in animation, women in animation, the Quay Brothers, an editor of DVDs, director of the most prestigious British award, associate of the British Film Institute, teacher at many universities, Jayne Pilling has shown not only how to teach animation, but also how to love it.
The iconic American animator, multimedia artist, painter, designer and set designer Suzan Pitt was unable to attend the ceremony over an unexpected health problem and receive the Lifetime Achievement Award. Her work was described by Margit Antauer, the president of the Animafest Council.
Pitt made her first independent animated film in the early 70s, when the first ever Animafest was being organised in Zagreb. Over the years she has created an idiosyncratic and fascinating body of work, led by her famous film Asparagus, followed by Joy Street, El Doctor, Visitation and many others. They are all screened at relevant festivals and in institutions like AMPAS, MoMA and elsewhere. Informed about this award, Suzan sent the following email: ‘A big thank you to Animafest for this award. I am truly surprised and honoured. I dedicated my entire life to animation and similar media and this means the world to me. Kind regards to everyone and see you in Zagreb in June, we’ll watch some of my films together.’ Unfortunately, not everything happens the way we want it. Suzan was taken ill and cannot be with us today, but our thoughts are with her and her films are here – said Antauer.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, 4 and 5 June, at 14:00, Tuškanac cinema is screening a retrospective of Suzan Pitt’s films, with classics like Asparagus, Joy Street and Visitation, and the Kranjčar Gallery on Tuesday at 18 opens an exhibition of her 10 one-of-a-kind custom-made hand-painted coats, exhibited in her shop on 8th Street in NYC by the famous costume designer and stylist Patricia Field, best known for her work on the Sex and the City serial. Inspired by popular culture motifs like comics, commercials, original prints and NY graffiti, as well as psychology, sex, surrealism and her animated watercolours, Suzan Pitt’s coats stem from the vibrant street atmosphere of New York and Los Angeles.
A memory of the recently departed icon of the Zagreb School of Animation followed: the author of the first Croatian animation feature The Miraculous Forest (1986) Milan Blažeković, who died on Tuesday, at the age of 79. After a short clip from his most famous work, Margit Antauer said goodbye to this animation master with the following words:
A few days ago we said goodbye to one of the authors from the Zagreb School of Animation, the long-time festival councillor, the author of the first three Croatian feature animations, Mr Milan Blažeković. Milan is gone, but he left us his Miraculous Forest and The Wizard’s Hat, with eternal presence of his characters like Lapitch the Little Shoemaker, the Collector, the Man Who Had to Sing. His films live and we will remember him forever. Thank you Milan.
The Animafest festival trailer was also presented at the opening, made by the Swiss-Croatian animator Michaela Müller, inspired by this year’s theme programme dedicated to the connection between animation and fine arts and Animafest’s beloved open-air screenings, to the score composed by Hrvoje Štefotić.
After the presentation of all the jury members, the ceremony ended with a screening of the Grand Competition 1 films and a Q&A with the authors present: Claudius Gentinetta (Selfies), Joanna Lurie (Flowing through Water), Ivana Bošnjak and Thomas Johnson (Imbued Life), Will Anderson (Where’s the Butter, Betty?), Gerlando Infuso (Proposal) and Moïa Jobin-Paré (No Objects). The Q&A was moderated by Animafest’s ongoing associate, the French animation critic and promoter Alexis Hunot.
At 23:00 the Animafest guests were entertained at a party at Kulturni klub Mesnička by DJ Mario Kovač.