World Festival of Animated Film /
19 - 24 June 1978
World Festival of Animated Film / 19 - 24 June 1978
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Memories, Climate and Fantasy / B&W in the Colour of Music and Puppets: Croatian Films at Animafest 2024

In addition to the films by Sunčana Brkulj (Butterfly), Zarja Menart (Three Birds) and the Popović brothers (Žarko, You Will Spoil the Child!) from the Grand Competition – Short Film, Croatian animated film production will be represented at Animafest 2024 also in the Student Film Competition. Petra Pavetić Kranjčec (Chicks) and Eugen Bilankov (Windows from the South) from the Academy of Fine Arts earned the right to appear among the exciting and uninhibited works of the new generations of the global animation scene. Pavetić Kranjčec stood out last year at Animafest with a tender black-and-white meditation of fine lines, movements and transitions about romantic projections, breakups and personal growth (Bird House). This year’s film Chicks is fundamentally different in its partly black humour and partly socially critical poetics which stands out for its original imagination and unusual perspective on the journey of two hen friends from the poultry house to the sea. Although their persistent cackling before their final dissolution transcends both slaughter and turning into medallions, as well as human digestion and the sewage system, there is no doubt that Chicks are also intended as a strong advocacy for animal rights. Windows from the South is, on the other hand, an autobiographical contemplation of the breakup of a long-term romantic relationship, which, along with the protagonists’ dialogue, used surrealistic, associatively connected, mostly carnal motifs in bright colours. The film also reflects on the dual purpose of the artistic endeavour: summarizing and archiving a part of personal history in the medium of film, which is simultaneously used as a form of therapeutic self-exploration and experimentation.

Filip Gašparović Melis’s The Secret Garden, a likable children’s 3D film from the multimedia educational series Cubosee, recognizable by its blocky animal heroes, will be presented in the Films for Children and Youth Competition. Based mostly on gags, this colourful work is intended primarily for children age 5–10 years, while at Animafest it is shown in the 3–6 years competition.

The traditional Saturday presentation of the finest new Croatian production in two screenings of the Croatian Film Competition will gather a total of 22 works. In addition to the Academy of Fine Arts and foreign production companies, Croatian producers Adriatic Animation, Kinoklub Zagreb, Antitalent, Prime Render Studio, 3D2D Animatori, Uprise d.o.o., Bonobostudio, queerANarchive, Warpmedia and independent productions of Hana Tintor and Lucija Mrzljak are represented.

One of the leading Croatian animators of the younger middle generation, Lucija Mrzljak presents the Maaimä music video created in collaboration with the Estonian musician Mari Kalkun. It is an animated video for the song of the same name from the album Stoonia lood, which addresses human’s contradictory relationship with nature. Traditional music enriched with electronic sounds and text in the dialect of south-eastern Estonia communicates the themes of climate change, overpopulation, disappearance of animal habitats and loss of biodiversity, while Lucija’s red and white animals and their silhouettes fly and run across our planet. The masterful command of the line and the transformations connected with it, as well as the symbolic and smooth transitions between the scenes, and the creative treatment of the perspective enable the characters to point to the inextricable connection between man (primarily abstracted in the hands) and the world even against relatively minimalistic backgrounds, i.e. that the themes of the song mediate in a suggestive way. In addition to the already globally famous cycle she made with Morten Tšinakov (A Demonstration of Brilliance in 4 Acts, The Stork, Eeva), it should be remembered that Mrzljak also competed with the music video The Closing Door at Animafest 2020.

A talented cartoonist who has already crossed the path from the animator of successful films by other directors (All Those Sensations in My Belly) to creating independently (The Sea of Thoughts), Hana Tintor in the video Pan Pan for the band Rana Rana plays with the seaside and her characteristic, seemingly simple, and extremely effective and fluidly metamorphic, body motifs in the depiction of summer touches, love and the psychological dilemmas associated with them. Unlike Mrzljak, this is the first video for the prolific illustrator Tintor.

Croatian stop-motion champions Thomas Johnson Volda and Ivana Bošnjak Volda in a new project for the American TED-Ed Does Planting Trees Actually Cool the Planet? combine puppet film, cutout animation, and drawings to vividly illustrate biologist and science journalist Carolyn Beans’s lesson on a headline topic related to climate change. Using the example of a failed reforestation campaign in Chile, Beans explains in which cases planned tree planting can even harm the environment.

The puppet film Beyond the Face, a psychological drama by Anja Resman, a graduate of the Academy of Arts, University of Nova Gorica, follows a man who, after his father’s death, relives memories of childhood moments spent with him. With meticulous sets and lighting, seamless analepsis and with camera work that indicates experience with live action film, Beyond the Face is also among the large number of this year’s Animafest films dedicated to the study of personal memory, standing out for its technical ambition and allegory of parenting for ‘impersonality’ and conformity.

In Catlands, Slovenian multimedia artist Ana Čigon uses digital tools to achieve the impression of a cutout animation of a bright palette in order to narrate an allegory about migrants ‘at the door of Europe’ through an apparently cute constellation of feline neighbours of different socioeconomic statuses. With a background in painting, video art and performance, Čigon is an engaged author (feminism, LGBTIQ'+, ecology...) who often uses satire for a critical attitude towards neoliberal capitalism.

Martin Babić also resorted to digital cutout animation in the video for the single Space Snails of the Old Spetric label (Slaven Petrić, Marija Capan, Emil Aleksander), a work characterised by grotesque-macabre, intriguing character design and a concise depiction of the civilisation cycle. After Pink Stories screened in 2022, the Dubrovnik multimedia artist Mare Šuljak this year presents the excellent stop-motion experimental film Evanescence, which from an anthropological-sociological perspective adds timeliness to dilapidated corridors. This meditation on transience through the de- and re-construction of space was created at the Modular Film workshop of the Kinoklub Zagreb under the direction of Vladislav Knežević.

In recent years, Morana Marija Vulić has shown two films from different subgenres of science fiction, techno-dystopian and post-apocalyptic, at Animafest, demonstrating an aesthetic whose sophistication is reminiscent of high-budget studio works from the time before the 3D revolution, but also a strong melancholy tone. In the new, black-and-white work Tower, Vulić presents another post-apocalypse whose inhabitant is the sad Hatter. Like her previous film Horizons, Tower is essentially a modernist film of human condition in which the themes of loneliness, loss and reminiscence prevail, but in a figurative sense it can also be seen as a view of family relationships, the lack of human closeness, and as a silent cry against alienation.

The inspiration of Marko Gutić Mižimakov in the field of science fiction is reflected in the synergistic connection of human creativity and technology in the work Dragon Hunt. Starting from the novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand by new wave classic Samuel Delany, Gutić Mižimakov experiments with machine learning algorithms, dance, epic fantasy and queer road film in the treatment of human and fantastic bodies that he inserts into the ambience of the Dalmatian hinterland and transforms them. The film of equally hybrid soundscape is complementary to the author’s exhibition Event Horizon, i.e. the performance Your sweat leaves a strange metallic taste on the air, young hunter.

Grotesque, fantasy, alienation and loneliness are the focus of multimedia artist Tara Stanić, who debuts at Animafest with the black-and-white non-narrative 2D work The Dream of Rage – a record of a dream filled with strong emotions, disturbing sounds and transformations that create a unique atmosphere bordering on a nightmare. Ivana Šoljić’s Beast is dominantly black and white, focally intriguing depiction of the attempted rape of a hitchhiker who finds the strength to resist, based on the realised metaphor of animal instincts and suggestive editing. Behind the Scenes by Monika Mohr is also a black and white, but hybrid rotoscope and 2D work about the nocturnal meeting of two young people at the Zagreb bus station in a somewhat noir atmosphere of smoke and reminiscences.

Bruna Ercegovac creates the 2D work Defora on the boundaries of oil on canvas and pastel, and expands the horizon of expectations from the Mediterranean landscape and depiction of sailor life and camaraderie with a fantastic plot connected to folk tales about the sea. Taking into account the ambience and freer structure of the second part, it is possible to see Defora as a distant reflection of Magda Dulčić’s legacy. Ana Despot reinterprets Stribor’s Forest by Croatian fairy-tale writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić with a witty metacinematic parody process, voice over in verses (Dragan Despot), ellipses and an unexpected, but gratifying narrative deviation in the direction of a horror film. In the bright colours of Tufna, Amila Šarić resists the thought of suicide with an imaginative, surrealist journey of a separated head and body.

Fish I, Ada-Nela Peharda’s graduation film, is an attractive and witty work of classic appearance that imagines a fish at a psychiatrist and, in addition to using the titular distortion of the image, imaginatively interweaves sea metaphors in serious and frivolous conversations about family relationships, self-perception and the environment, showing a high level linguistic and cinematic consciousness.

Croatian modern and historical classics are distributed, as every year, in the retrospective branches of Animafest’s programme grid. Borivoj Dovniković’s Learning to Walk, Nedeljko Dragić’s Passing Days and Chintis Lundgren’s Life with Herman H. Rott are shown in the theme programme of Animafest 2024, while Branko Ranitović’s recently restored Invitation (1970) is shown in the Time for the Masters segment. Last year’s extraordinary titles Her Dress for the Final by Martina Meštrović and Family Portrait by Lea Vidaković are part of the AFN Presents That’s What She Said programme, which the network of the five most important festivals in Central and Eastern Europe dedicated to contemporary authors.

Krešimir Zimonić, the great author of the 3rd generation of the Zagreb School of Animated Film, which in the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s was mostly realised at the intersection of comics (graphic novels) and animation, is getting an author’s retrospective in which nine of his works can be seen. Along with classics such as Album, The Game and Butterfly, this cross-section of the work of the former artistic director of Animafest offers insight into the later part of his oeuvre, as well as into lesser-known and commissioned works.