Tonight, the 33rd World Animated Film Festival – Animafest Zagreb 2023 began with the opening ceremony at the SC Cinema, as part of which, from June 5 to 10, SC and Tuškanac cinemas, the Tuškanac Summer Stage and other venues across the city will screen a large number of artistic animated films with numerous accompanying events. The most important Croatian film festival and one of the leading animation festivals in the world was opened by the Deputy Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Danijela Dolenec.
Thanks to Animafest, Zagreb is on the world map of animated film. We are extremely proud to be the host city of a festival of globally significant character. We especially like the festival slogan “Z... is for Zagreb”, which refers and reminds us of the intertwining and connection of Animafest and Zagreb through time. A festival that lives in the fabric of the city, which has taken place in many city locations over the past years, and which we can say breathes with the city in many ways. From the experience of previous years, we can say with certainty that we will see the best works of contemporary world animation and new trends, and that because of all that the festival offers to all generations, in addition to the film program, Animafest also offers many opportunities for discussion and education. The openness of the festival to all generations is its great asset. On the subject of SF and specifically AI, if artists are worried about artificial intelligence, imagine how much politicians are worried about it. I congratulate the organisers, artists and animators who invest energy and talent in creating this great festival. I declare the 33rd Animafest open – said Dolenec.
Christopher Peter Marcich, director of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Daniel Šuljić, Animafest’s artistic director and Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, producers of the Festival addressed the envoy of the Minister of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia Nina Obuljen Koržinek, State Secretary Krešimir Partl, high-ranking representatives of the diplomatic corps, media representatives and distinguished guests of the international animation scene in the SC Cinema auditorium.
I consulted the AI advisor, ChatGPT, and it immediately answered me, you can see how intelligent it is, “the best animation film festival”. Animafest Zagreb has been an A-list animated film festival for years. It is a great achievement and honour and it did not happen by chance. Year after year, the organisers of the festival prove that they deserve that title, and I sincerely congratulate you on that. In the past four years, despite the pandemic and other adversities, HAVC has co-financed more than 50 short animated films. The fruits are harvested this year as well. We are happy that four Croatian films are being shown as part of the Grand Competition Short Film. After the great recent success of the film Cricket and Antoinette, two feature animated films are currently in production, Crystal Planet by Arsen A. Ostojić and All Operators Are Currently Busy, by the author of this year’s Animafest illustration and trailer Dalibor Barić. Animafest is a huge springboard for the authors and crews for the further life of the film, so I wish all of them a successful screening life, for us as impressive an encounter with the films as possible, and for the crew a successful festival – said Marcich.
From last year, when we celebrated half a century and closed a thick book, to this year, when we opened the first page of the next 50 years, AI has happened and who knows what awaits us next year. We had 15 applications with AI, of which we took two into the main competition and a few more into side programmes. We looked at the quality of the films. The first film in tonight’s program is AI. We will see how this new technology develops. Enjoy the festival. Again, there are a lot of films, 300 and 400 guests. We are where we need to be – stressed Šuljić.
Dear friends of animation, I am very glad to see you in such a full hall. We thought that last year would be a record for the number of guests, but we are obviously contradicting ourselves with each new edition. On our production side, we must say thank you to all those who support us financially, first of all the City of Zagreb and Croatian Audiovisual Centre, and then also the crowds of people of good will who accompany us at all times. For my part, I must highlight Lah Contemporary, which lent us the works of William Kentridge, and the wonderful Mrs. Kranjčar from the Kranjčar Gallery, where we have mounted Kentridge’s exhibition. Sending a big heart from the Animafest team and I hope we have a great time this week – Orlić added.
It seems that everyone is afraid of artificial intelligence except us who do this festival because there are no robots that can replace our team, our amazing people. Thank you very much, auntie loves you – said Milić.
The opening ceremony presented the Animafest 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award to William Kentridge, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies to Suzanne Buchan and the Best Animation School Award to the UK’s National Film and Television School (NFTS).
When, in mid-December last year, we waited with impatience, trepidation and excitement for the answer of our Lifetime Achievement Award winner about his arrival or possible non-arrival in Zagreb, four of his extensive independent exhibitions were underway all over the world, in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Gstaad and London. If today there is an artist who can be said to be universal, then our laureate this year certainly has every right to be – concluded the president of the Animafest Council, Margit Antauer (statement).
Receiving the award, William Kentridge thanked with the following words: Receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award always makes me a little anxious. I think to myself “what do they know about my health that I don’t”. When I started working in animation in the late 1980s during the Cold War and still gigantic divisions, Animafest already had a name and a presence at the centre of world animation. That’s why it’s wonderful to receive an award from this festival. There has always been a question about seeing the world as a fact or as a process. Animation is a way of seeing an unfixed world, a world in transformation. I feel a great solidarity with all of you here who understand such a world. A retrospective of Kentridge’s animated films is scheduled for Tuesday 6/6 at 3:30pm at the SC Cinema (free entry). On the same day, the exhibition of his works Circulus vitiosus will be officially opened in the Kranjčar Gallery at 1 p.m., and on Wednesday, June 7, the South African artist will give a masterclass (1 p.m., SC Cinema) and have a performance (10:30 p.m., SC Cinema), where he will perform his version of Kurt Schwitters’s Dadaist piece Ursonata.
This award belongs to everyone I have worked with over the years as much as it does to me. If you have time, come to the tenth Animafest Scanner. If you come, you will understand how much thought goes into creating an animated film and the importance of the work we do because animation is a superpower – pointed out Buchan, who was presented with the award by Festival Council member Nikica Gilić (statement). Buchan is the keynote speaker at the Animafest Scanner X symposium, which takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 6 and 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:40 p.m. in the &TD Theatre, with admission open to all interested visitors.
The award for the best animation school, awarded by the Student Film Competition Selection Committee consisting of Hana Tintor, Jasminka Bijelić Ljubić and Daniel Šuljić (statement), was accepted by Robert Bradbrook, head of animation at NFTS.
Our films are completed in January because our academic year is different from other countries. This means that Animafest is the first festival of the year where we submit new films, but they are mostly not finished yet. But every year the selection committee sees something in them and risks accepting them unfinished. We are really proud that you have given us this award for the second year in a row – said Bradbrook, who will also speak ahead of the NFTS retrospective scheduled for Wednesday 6/7 at 3:30 p.m. at the SC Cinema with free admission.
After the presentation of all the jury members and the festival trailer by author Dalibor Barić and musician Toni Starešinić, the ceremony was graced by the screening of Kentridge’s film City Deep with a live musical performance by Alen and Nenad Sinkauz and Maja Rivić. The ceremony ended with a screening of the films from the Grand Competition Short Film 1 and a conversation with the present authors: Laen Sanches (PLSTC), Al Nunu (chief animator of the film Ice Merchants), Susanna Jirkuff (Where I Live), Lea Vidaković (Family Portrait), Sofiia Melnyk and Marius Kirsten (Mariupol. One Hundred Nights, director and sound author), ALIMO (Juxtaposed Land) and Delphine Hermans and Michel Vandam (Marrons glacés). The Q&A was hosted by film critic and political scientist Boško Picula.
From 10:30 p.m., DJ Jahvo Joža entertained the guests from the world of animation at Caffe &TD.