The Children and Youth Programme at Animafest Zagreb 2019, whose screen-related part is mostly set at the Kinoteka cinema according to a schedule adapted to the needs of parents, kindergartens and schools, includes the international Children’s Film Competition, the interesting Family Programme with exciting feature films and short theme selections, optical toys and animation workshops for children and young audiences, open-air shows and screenings and free events set in culture centres across the city of Zagreb. Once again, this year Animafest is, in collaboration with the Djeca susreću umjetnost association, visiting the paediatric wards of Zagreb’s hospitals and the entire Children and Youth Programme has prepared special festival prices for little ones and their parents.
The international Children’s Film Competition includes 36 films from 24 countries. The films were selected by the Slovenian media psychologist Martina Peštaj, editor at RTV Slovenia’s Children and Youth Programme. Martina categorised the films by four age groups (4-7, 7-10, 10-14 and 14+). The Children’s Film Competition is infused with knowledge of children’s emotions and thoughts, a child’s capability to understand and act, humour, play and joy. These four inspiring sections have something for everyone: a film to attract, touch, surprise, laugh or move to tears. Children’s films here help us make the very first steps into the world of art, aesthetics, narration, but at the same time they are creative expressions of grown-ups inspired by tiny moments from the world of children. Each of the selected films is exceptional in terms of content, message, visual expression and animation technique. Although suitable for children, these are nevertheless artistic animation films, the kind that children cannot see on TV or in standard cinema listings.
The preschool children section (age 4-7) is full of wonder: over sunny mornings (the Iranian film Morning, dir. Reyhana Kavosh), roses, marine animals knocking on submarine windows (the Japanese film Hiro-Hana – Favourites of a Sea Otter, dir. Ayako Hishi), or the courage of a little sheep (the German film Sheep, dir. Julia Ocker). It acquaints us with stories of friendship on an iceberg (the British film Polar Opposites, dir. Diana Wey), with a visitor from outer space (the Czech film On the Same Wavelength, dir. Radoslava Lacková) and in a small animal café where compassionate kittens comfort a sad otter. This section also screens two new Croatian titles – Toofa & Poofa by Denis Alenti and Knock Knock by Ivana Guljašević – as well as a new episode of kids’ favourite serial by Kolja Saksida – Koyaa – Elusive Paper.
The younger schoolchildren section (age 7-10) invites us for a bunny’s birthday party and to meet a monster who is not really a monster (Matilda, France/Spain/Belgium, dir. Irène Iborra Rizo, Eduard Puertas Anfruns). These films teach us that kindness is always better when shared and that real friends are the best company. Wild chases are also present, one around the house and the other across a forest. Everyone is tormented by the eternal questions: who am I, how strong am I and how fast do I grow, why am I sometimes different and why do I blush when I meet my little next door neighbour (Vitello Gets a Yucky Girlfriend, Denmark/UK, dir. Dorte Bengston)? Finally, there is the fairy tale wolf in a somewhat different light (I’m the Strongest, France/Belgium, dir. Arnaud Demuynck, Anaïs Sorrentino), as well as the new episode of Mury the Cat (dir. Jernej Žmitek).
The older schoolchildren section (age 10-14) takes us to India (A Flowering Tree, dir. Meera Krishnamurthy), Columbia (The Diary of a Chiva Bus, dir. Nikolay Moustakov) and the ancient history when the first ever story of Romeo and Juliet (the Croatian film The Ballad of Pipe and Necklace, dir. Martin Babić) took place. Brothers embark on a roam in the mountains (the French film Discreet Water, dir. Etienne Baillieu) and grandpas after a long and happy life say goodbye and fly off into the clouds (The Kite, Czech Republic/Slovakia/Poland, dir. Martin Smatana). Friendship surprises loners (Big Wolf / Little Wolf, France/Belgium, dir. Rémi Durin) and a young man gets a new neighbour (Welcome, Canada, dir. Laura Stewart). A little sorcerer girl is surprised when she needs to enchant a frog (The Witch, Czech Republic, Anna Němečková) and the audience will surely be stunned by the exercise of pink flamingos (Athleticus: Training Room, France, dir. Nicolas Devereaux).
Films for the young audience (age 14+) feature the most important issues in youth: questions about life, meaning and happiness. A personal tale will be built through memories (Guaxuma, France/Brazil, dir. Sara Normande; Uncle Thomas, Accounting for the Days, Portugal/Canada/France, dir. Regina Pessoa) and testing the limits to find a place under the sun (Fine Dust, Italy, dir. Alessandra Boatto, Gloria Cianci, Sofia Zanonato). A runner will turn his painful loss into Olympic gold (Wings of an Eagle: Billy Mills, Spain/USA, dir. Ryan Murdock) and a girl will find her spot in a very small corner of the universe in a near future. Mutual relationships will reflect wishes, longings and fears, since ancient history (Good Heart, Russia, dir. Evgeniya Jirkova), in winter nights (Sweet Night, Belgium, dir. Lia Bertels) and on two islands in the middle of the sea (Above All, France, dir. Lisa Klemenz).
The Children’s Competition films are screened daily, Tuesday, 4 June thru Friday, 7 June, at 9.30 and 11.30 at Kinoteka and on Saturday, 8 June at 11 and 12 at the same location.
Perfect for children accompanied by parents, the Family Programme consists of three theme sections of short films, two feature films, a selection of the finest cartoons from the ninth VAFI festival and the play Hedgehog’s Home and the namesake film at Gradec open-air cinema (Sunday, 2 June, 20 h, 4+), after which the parents and their little ones can join the popular Animacycle. The play Hedgehog’s Home by Tvornica lutaka theatre company (Mario Kovač and Petra Radin, 40 minutes) is based on the namesake poem by Branko Ćopić, just like Eva Cvijanović’s award-winning film.
Family Programme’s theme sections are dedicated to holiday magic (the Slovakian-Czech film Mimi and Lisa – Christmas Lights Mystery and the Irish-Estonian The Overcoat), persistence and difference (That’s Me!) (the Swiss-Belgian film Zibilla and the Canadian The Most Magnificent Thing, and animals from the German Film Bilder Studio (15 films from their 30-year history). The Family Programme also includes the French feature film The Birdhouse Stories (dir. Célia Rivière), with live narration by actor Filip Riđički (helping the youngest ones to enjoy nine glorious animated fairy tales), and the Swedish film with Croatian dubbing, the exciting children’s detective adventure Gordon & Paddy (dir. Linda Hambäck). The Family Programme entries are screened at Kinoteka, from Tuesday, 4 June to Friday, 7 June, daily at 15.30, on Friday at 17.30, and on Saturday, 8 June at 14, 15, 16 and 17.30. The entire Saturday is dedicated to the finest animated titles for children and families.
Animation workshops are scheduled to take place at the French Institute Mediatheque. The workshop familiarising children with optical toys is scheduled for Saturday, 1 June, 11-14 h, mentored by animator Antonija Veljačić, who is also mentoring the weekly animation workshop Animate!, requiring applications at firstname.lastname@example.org, Tuesday, 4 June thru Friday, 7 June, every day from 17 h to 19 h. The optical toys workshop is open for children age 4 and above, while the weekly workshop is suitable for schoolchildren.
The event Animafest in Your Neighbourhood, aiming to acquaint as many children as possible with animation, organises free screenings of titles from the festival line-up at culture centres located in different neighbourhoods across Zagreb: KUC Travno (Božidara Magovca 17; Saturday 25 May, 11 h, “Introducing Animafest: Animal Kingdom of Film Bilder; Wednesday 5 June, 19 h, Big Bad Fox and Other Tales), Dubrava People’s University (Cerska 1; Saturday 1 June and Sunday 2 June, 11 h, Big Bad Fox and Other Tales; Saturday 8 June and Sunday 9 June, 11 h, Animal Kingdom of Film Bilder), Sesvete People’s University (Dragutin Domjanić Square 6; Saturday 1 June, 17 h and Thursday 6 June, 10 h, Big Bad Fox and Other Tales; Saturday 1 June, 18:30 h, Animation Workshop), Maksimir Centre for Culture and Information (Švarcova 18; Saturday 1 June, 20:30 h, Big Bad Fox and Other Tales open-air, in case of rain at the cinema), Trešnjevka Centre for Culture (Park stara Trešnjevka 1; Sunday 9 June, 11 h, Animafest Marathon: Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, Animal Kingdom of Film Bilder) and Peščenica Centre for Culture (Ivanićgradska 41a; Saturday 1 June, 10:30, Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, Saturday 8 June, 17 h, Animal Kingdom of Film Bilder). Admission to all the cultural centre events across Zagreb is free of charge.
Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, the winner of Animafest’s 2018 Audience Award, is a French feature film directed by Benjamin Renner, the author of the audience’s darling, Ernest and Celestine, based on the author’s illustrated books and the medieval novel of the fox. The film creates an impression of a moving watercolour picture book, but with a lot of humour, slapstick and powerful emotions. In addition to neighbourhood screenings, this film will be screened at Animafest’s open air on Saturday, 25 May at 22 h at Zrinjevac park.
In collaboration with the association Djeca susreću umjetnost, Animafest 2019 is visiting paediatric wards of Zagreb’s hospitals with screenings and Q&As with filmmakers – the oncology and paediatrics of KBC Zagreb (Rebro), Children’s Clinic in Klaićeva Street, Tumour Clinic in Ilica, Psychiatric Hospital for Children and Young Patients in Kukuljevićeva Street, Srebrnjak Children’s Hospital and KBC Sisters of Mercy.
Individual tickets for the Children and Youth Programme (Children’s Film Competition and Family Programme) are 25 kuna. Family passes, for admission to all the screenings in the programme, are available in two versions: 1+1 (one adult and one child) at a price of 100 kuna and 1+2 (one adult and two children) at a price of 150 kuna. All the tickets can be purchased at: animafest.kupiulaznicu.hr and during the festival at all the locations.