World Festival of Animated Film /
3 to 8 June 2024
World Festival of Animated Film / 3 to 8 June 2024
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Humour and Czechia: Animafest Zagreb 2024 Theme Programmes

At a time when global politics seem to be veering more and more towards the next world conflict, Animafest Zagreb 2024 opposes this unhappy trend with a theme programme dedicated to humour. Animation will not change the world, but it can make it more beautiful and easier for a few moments.

The programme consists of six slots designed in accordance with different types of humour. The first is dedicated to slapstick, or gags – non-verbal, physical comedy that relies on crucial timing, and often contains subversive, socially critical elements. Fifteen animation classics created between 1972 and 2014 in Hungary, France, Canada, The Netherlands, Great Britain, United States, China, Argentina and Norway are signed by big names such as Alexei Alexeev (Log Jam: KJFG No. 5, a film that many consider to be perhaps the funniest in history), John Lasseter (Knick-Knack), Paul Driessen (The Killing of an Egg), Czaba Varga (Augusta Makes Herself Beautiful), Bob Godfrey (Kama Sutra Rides Again), Cordell Barker (The Cat Came Back), Konstantin Bronzit (At the End of the Earth), Juan Pablo Zaramella (Lapsus) and Marv Newland (Bambi meets Godzilla), but also slightly younger humourists Romain Segaud and Christel Pougeoise (Tim Tom), Astrid Alma Aakra (Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky!), Thibault Bérard, Vincent Gautier and Frédérique Gyuran (Dahucapra Rupidahu), Zhiyong Li (Kung-fu Bunny 3: Counterattack) and the collectives PES (Western Spaghetti) and Job, Joris & Marieke (A Single Life).

The second slot deals with dark humour, mostly characteristic of films made in the past two decades. Some, like Peter Cornwell (Ward 13) and Malte Stein (Blue Dream), have specialized in it, others like Alexander Bubnov (Last Wife of Bluebeard) parodies literary and film genres, and some explicitly look at death like Ignacio Ferreras (How to Cope with Death) and Nicolas Jacquet (French Killers). Our own Kate Gugić’s masterful Cockpera is also featured in this segment, along with films by Carl Vogele (Una Furtiva Lagrima) and Christian Larrave (Lesley the Pony Has an A+ Day!). Probably the most famous name is Don Hertzfeldt (Rejected).

The slot showcasing absurd humour features primarily Estonian (Breakfast on the Grass by a group of authors and Life with Herman H. Rott by Chintis Lundgren), Finnish (Joni Männistö’s Swarming) and Japanese (Yoji Kuri’s Au Fou!, Koji Yamamura’s Mt. Head, Atsushi Wada’s My Exercise) works, as well as those directly or less directly inspired by Monty Python humour (Signe Baumane’s Five Fucking Fables, Busby Berkeley’s Tribute to Mae West by Paula Bush, Rubicon by Gil Alkabetz) and includes an author that was part of the famous group himself, Terry Gilliam (Storytime).

The slot featuring verbal humour contains irony, cynicism and puns, but also two authors that are recognized by everyone. We will hear the famous line “You're despicable!” in Chuck Jones’s Rabbit Seasoning, and we’ll be happy to remember The Line in the 121st episode of Osvaldo Cavandoli’s La Linea. One of the iconic films in Animafest’s history is certainly The Ballad of Maria Lassnig (dir. Maria Lassnig, Hubert Sielecki), and the fat figure from the recent film Hi Stranger by Kirsten Lepore has also already managed to enter the legend. The rest of this ad hoc comedy group consists of Kunyi Chen (Rien), Jochen Kuhn (Recently 1), Eugene Fedorenko and Rose Newlove (Village of Idiots), Nicolas Keppens (Easter Eggs) and Adam Elliot (Harvie Krumpet).

The choir of satires in the fifth slot is also made up of legendary authors: Osamu Tezuka (Jumping), Nick Park (Creature Comforts), Joanna Quinn (Britannia), Bill Plympton (Guard Dog), Richard Condie (The Big Snit), Nedeljko Dragić (Passing Days), Borivoj Dovniković Bordo (Learning to Walk), Gerrit van Dijk (Jute: Alle Menschen werden Brüder), Will Vinton (The Great Cognito), Carsten Strauch (Feeding Time), Marta Mattuschka (Les Miserables) and Jonas Raeber (Hello!).

The last segment deals with ‘humour at our own expense’, i.e. the funny side of human nature shown in following works: The Village (Mark Baker), The Tram 9 Was Going (Stepan Koval), Sientje (Christa Moesker), Goodnight Norma... Goodnight Milton… (John Schnall), No Room for Gerold (Daniel Nocke), Bob’s Birthday (Alison Snowden and David Fine), Gerri’s Game (Jan Pinkava), Sunday Lunch (Céline Devaux) and Waaah (Sawako Kabuki).

Czech this out!
The other special focus this year is Czech animation, partly because of the famous Czech humour, familiar and beloved in our area, but primarily because it’s one of the oldest animation traditions, greatly influencing the formation of the famous Zagreb School of Animation which nurtured strong artistic ties with Czech authors and studios throughout its existence. The selection is signed by Pavel Horáček, the programme director of the Anifilm festival in Liberec.

The first of seven parts of Focus on Czechia deals precisely with humour. Czechs know how to joke at any moment, even in the worst of times – humour has made a strong impact Czech culture, and the films in this programme reflect nine decades of animated laughter in the face of historical changes. The authors are: Jiří Trnka and Jiří Brdečka (Springman and the SS, 1946), Břetislav Pojar (Bombomania, 1959), Stanislav Látal and Miloš Macourek (How to Obtain a Good Child, 1965), Václav Bedřich (Beer over the Street, 1974), Oldřich Haberle (Bartakiad, 1985), Pavel Koutský (My Country, 1998), Jaromír Plachý (The Clod, 2007), Jan Saska (Happy End, 2015) and Alexandra Májová (Washing Machine, 2020).

The second part shows contemporary Czech animation, the success of which is largely based on student films. Authors: Vojtěch Domlátil (Waves and Retired), Dita Stuchlíková (I Would Be a Musician), Vojtěch Kočí (The XXXL Plumber Jack Dingbongs Her Tiny Skinpompom: Ep. 8), Marek Náprstek (The More I Know), Anna Podskalská (Red Shoes), Matouš Valchář (After), Barbora Halířová (Hide n Seek), Zbyšek Semelka (Advertising the Earth Radio – Stephen P. McGreevy's VLF Cut-outs), Zuzana Čupová (Wedding Day) and Diana Cam Van Nguyen (Love Dad).

The third section “Classics” connects the unquestionable greats (Trnka, Pojar, Brdečka, Pavlátová, Koutský) with somewhat neglected authors whose works also deserve the status of classics, such as those of the Dodal family. Films: Fantasie érotique (Karel Dodal, Irena Dodalová), A Drop Too Much (Břetislav Pojar), Visit Prague (Pavel Koutský), A Place in the Sun (František Vystrčil), Looove! (Jiří Brdečka), Kohak Birds (Vladimír Lehký), Laokoon (Václav Mergl), Repete (Michaela Pavlátová) and The Hand (Jiří Trnka).

The fourth segment celebrates Jan Švankmajer on the occasion of his 90th birthday and brings the best of his rich career: Historia Naturae (Suite), The Flat, Flora, Dimensions of Dialogue, Darkness, Light, Darkness, Death of Stalinism in Bohemia and Don Juan. The fifth presents two restored Jiří Barta classics: The Pied Piper (1986) and The Vanished World of Gloves (1982). The remaining two screenings are dedicated to younger viewers with a selection of short films entitled “Cute Creatures” and the feature film Tony, Shelly and the Magic Light by Filip Pošivač. Czech children’s films, created mostly by students or young professional authors, are fantastic works that can be compared to the best of the genre. Kateřina Karhánková (The New Species and Fruits of Clouds) has reached stellar status, and there are also charming films from Zlín by Veronika Zacharova (House), Zuzana Čupova and Filip Diviak (Cloudy), or the very fresh work from FAMU by Eva Matejovičova (Writing Home). Elaborate design, funny and refreshing stories, often without words and are accessible to children all over the world.