This year Norway is celebrating the 100 years of animation. As a birthday present, Animafest is dedicating it an entire programme category which will present films made since 1913 until this day. And rightly so, because in the last 15 years Norwegian animation has really been thriving. This unique overview of Norwegian animation, called Images from the North– Norway 1913-2013, is one of the most comprehensive such programmes ever presented in Croatia. We take this chance to present the three-member jury consisting of the Norwegian professor of animation and documentary film Gunnar Strøm, Canadian Chris Robinson, art director of the Ottawa International Film Festival, and Darko Bakliža, a multi award winning author of animated and experimental films and professor from Croatia.
The country inhabited by only a somewhat greater number of people than Croatia can truly boast an impressive number of films and awards. Its greatest achievements, as many as 23, will be divided in three sections – two with short films and one with feature-length.
Classics and Contemporaries presents the best of Norwegian short production from 1913 until today, while the feature programme screens three films that all became the key moments in the history of Norwegian animation. One of them, Free Jimmy by Christopher Nielsen, is a 3D story about four drug addicts, three mafia members, five vegans, four hunters and one elephant, won the best feature film award in Annecy in 2007. Today it is considered the pivotal film for the development of computer animation in feature-length films and the widespread use if CGI. The second is Kurt Turns Evil from 2008. The film was made by Studio Qvisten, which began as a traditional animation studio and today mainly does computer animation.
The feature selection is completed by Pinchcliffe Grand Prix, a stop-motion film from 1975 based on Kjell Aukrust’s books, seen by 5.5 million Norwegians, given the fact that Norway only has 5 million citizens. The film is a masterpiece by Ivo Caprino, whose works have long been the only sign of existence of Norwegian animation on the global scene.
A hundred years ago comic book artist Sverre Halvorsen made the first film caricatures. This selection’s real treat is his short film Roald Amundsen on the South Pole, also the oldest existing Norwegian animated film. Once again we shall see the winner of best original video production award at Animafest 1996, the short film Processor, an experimental paper and cut-out animation by Jan Otto Ertesvåg and norwegian Oscar winning film The Danish Poet. Norwegian animation today is more diverse and more successful than ever and we wish it at least another 100 equally successful years.
In addition to films, a Norwegian representative in Zagreb will be one of this year’s jury members – Gunnar Strøm, an associate professor at Volda University College where he teaches animation and documentary film, an old friend of Animafest. A decision on this year’s Grand Competition Grand Prix will also be at the discretion of the Canadian Chris Robinson, art director of Ottawa International Film Festival and an acclaimed personality in the world of animation. He is fast-spoken and witty, known for his outbursts and intolerance for empty rhetoric. He writes the column The Animation Pimp on the website Animation World Magazine. Between 2003 and 2011 he published 13 books. With artist Theodore Ushev he is currently working on the illustrated novel My Balls are Killing Me, about his own experience with testicular cancer. The third jury member is Darko Bakliža from Croatia, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts (Department of Animation and New Media) and the Faculty of Design in Zagreb, the author of award-winning animated and experimental films which have with great success participated at many international festivals and film events. The best known among them are The First Story (2002), A Date (2004), Theory of Reflection (2006), Homo volans (2008), Format (2009). He is currently preparing his first feature-length 3D film.
Once again, Animafest’s Grand Competition includes nine feature animated films competing for the main festival award – the Grand Prix. The most popular title is definitely A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, about the life of the deceased founding member of the famous Monty Python, Graham Chapman. One of the most successful Japanese animated films will also be presented, the anima Wolf Children, as well as the French-Belgian animated fantasy, a story about an impossible friendship between a mouse and a bear, the festival jury darling Ernest and Celestine, followed by a somewhat different story intended for adult audiences – Tatsumi – a tale about the namesake manga illustrator.
The selection also includes the Spanish film Wrinkles, about friendship among old people, based on the award-winning comic by Paco Roca that won the hearts of the audience and critics and was sold in 350 thousand copies. European animation is represented also by the Italian visually attractive adaptation of Collodi’s Pinocchio, Jean-François Laguionie’s The Painting, and the French-Belgian autobiography by Korean animator Jung Approved for Adoption. The dark horse of Animafest’s official selection is Consuming Spirits, a critically acclaimed and award-winning dystopia debut by Chris Sullivan about the lives of Earl Gray, Gentian Violet and Victor Blue, the inhabitants of an eerie industrial town.