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Spain’s Animac Fest to Spotlight Hybrid Animation

Special guests at the 18th annual Animac to include British animator Chris Shepherd, Czech stop-motion master Jiří Barta, the makers of The Amazing World of Gumball, musician/animator tandem Péter Vacz and Joseph Wallace, Polish animator Piotr Szczepanowicz, and abstract Japanese animator Maya Yonesho, among others.

Animac, the International Film Festival of Animation in Catalonia, celebrates its 18th birthday by devoting it to hybrid animation and its capacity to mix and integrate all kinds of audiovisual formats.

The Festival will be held in Spain February 20-23, 2014. Organized by Lleida City Council and directed by curator Carolina López, Animac 2014 reaffirms its commitment to all audiences: four days full of animation screenings -- with more than 235 selected pieces -- exclusive lectures, and special sessions targeted at professionals, students, connoisseurs, families and children.

Directly related to the Hybrid theme, Animac will welcome the following international guests: British animator Chris Shepherd, Czech stop-motion master Jiří Barta, the makers of “The Amazing World of Gumball”, Ben Bocquelet and Mic Graves, musician/animator tandem Péter Vacz and Joseph Wallace, Polish animator Piotr Szczepanowicz, and abstract Japanese animator Maya Yonesho, among others. Spanish animation will be represented by Marc and Xavi Terris, the animators of the Annie-nominated indie game Tiny Thief, FX specialist Àlex Villagrasa, the maker of Pocoyó Guillermo García Carsi and BCN-based Headless Studio.

Hybrid, The Spirit Of Our Times

Animation has benefited all possible media, mixing and merging with many languages, techniques and formats: we defend our HYBRID theme as a symptom of the spirit of our times. Thus, Animac’s full program and all its sections are infused with hybrid animation.

Animac’s opening ceremony will feature a hybrid animation compilation/appetizer, including the most recent pieces by our special guests – Chris Shepherd’s The Ringer (2013) and Jiří Barta’s Yuki Onna (2013) – and Chris Landreth’s latest award-winning short film Subconscious Password.

Two special short film sessions will feature the most recent examples of hybrid animation, such as The Vein (by BCN-based studio DVEIN), Rosto’s Lonely Bones or G/R/E/A/S/E, one of the most experimental pieces by Spanish artist Antoni Pinent. A retrospective session will include some pioneer works, such as Walt Disney’s Alice’s Wonderland (1923), which combined live-action and traditional animation, and the slapstick short films of Charley Bower, as one of the most original – and forgotten – visual creators of his time. Michael Gondry’s latest feature film, L’écume des jours – known internationally as Moon Indigo – will be the icing on the cake, considering its use of mixed techniques and other Gondry trademarks.

Two Specials Guests: British Animator Chris Shepherd and Czech Animation Master Jiří Barta

In relation to Animac’s theme, our special guest will be British animator Chris Shepherd (1967, Liverpool, UK), who always maintained an intimate relationship with live action: an alchemical mixture of sincere, traditional and terrifying stories, full of black comedy. A mutant and multidisciplinary artist, Shepherd forged and refined his hybrid style thanks to the support of Channel 4 television. This is where he made his directorial debut, The Broken Jaw (1997), and two key pieces in his film career, Dad's Dead (2003) and Who I Am and What I Want (2005), within the short film incubator animate! He even became commissioner of the Random Acts short film initiative, which includes works by colleagues such as David Shrigley or Phil Mulloy and his own pieces, such as Drillerfiller (2012). A retrospective screening and a master class will explore his entire filmography, including his latest short film, The Ringer (2013), where Shepherd has returned to the dramatic and autobiographical territory.

Moreover, Animac will welcome the exceptional Jiří Barta (1948, Prague), one of the latest masters of Czech stop-motion and hybrid animation, for a special master lecture and a retrospective session of his work. Barta will also present Yuki Onna (2013), a Czech-Japanese co-production in which he introduces digital techniques to integrate live action and wax animation. Three monographic sessions will show and share Barta’s work. He began his career under the umbrella of the Czech communist government, which funded the work of new artists. After a first phase of cut animation, Barta opted for stop-motion with pieces such as the nostalgic Zanikly vet rukavic (The Extinct World of Gloves, 1982) or the mesmeric Ballad or zelemén drevu (The Ballad of the Green Wood, 1983). The film Krysař (The Pied Piper of Hamelin, 1985), an evil and expressionist version with puppets from the classic tale by the Brothers Grimm, was one of the peaks of his career. Barta continued to experiment with shorts, such as the vampiric Poslední lup (The Last Robbery, 1987) or Klub odlozenych (The Club of the Rejected, 1989). Ironically, the collapse of communism ended the whole system of artistic funding, and Barta remained inactive as a filmmaker for almost 20 years. From this period, we should note the unfinished film Golem, with just a trailer available. Finally, Barta returned in full force with the film Na pude aneb Kdo má dneska narozeniny? (2009), an unusual success that was screened in North America under the title Toys in the Attic, which mixes claymation, traditional animation and pixilation.

Behind “The Amazing World of Gumball”

Ben Boquelet and Mic Graves, the makers of the Cartoon Network’s award-winning series The Amazing World of Gumball, will join us this year to give a special lecture on Gumball’s creative process and its use of mixed animation: 2D, 3D, live action and even puppetry. Unaired episodes from the upcoming 3rd season will be screened for all audiences.

Spanish Talent

Once again, Animac promotes Spanish talent with a series of special lectures. They are animators and creators in the spotlight, such as Marc and Xavi Terris, from Barcelona: the young twin animators of the Annie-nominated indie-game Tiny Thief, licensed and distributed by Rovio. On the other hand, creators like experimental artist Antoni Pinent – and his reedited, animated version of the Randal Kleiser hit musical GREASE, re-titled G/R/E/A/S/E – or FX specialist Àlex Villagrassa – now working with Terry Gilliam and his new Quixote project – will give special lectures in their hometown, Lleida.

The official selection includes Spanish shorts films, such as Canis, by Marc Riba and Anna Solanas (2013), Astigmatismo, by Nicolai Troshinsky (2013), or Sangre de Unicornio, by Alberto Vázquez (2013).

More Animac 2014 Highlights

  • The official selection will include works such as Gloria Victoria, by Theodore Ushev (2013, Canada); Mademoiselle Kiki et les Montparnos, by Amélie Harrault (2013, France); Ex Animo, by Wojciech Wojtkowski (2013, Poland); Faroeste: um autêntico western, by Wesley Rodrigues (2013, Brazil); Boles, by Špela Čadež (Slovenia, 2013); Plug & Play, by Michael Frei (2013, Switzerland); and Kick-Heart, by Masaaki Yuasa (Japan, 2012).
  • Four special screening sessions devoted to Polish animation will delight Eastern European animation fans: commissioned by Polish expert Maria Zmudzińska from Etiuda i Anima, they include historical films by Walerian Borowczyk, Jan Lenica, Witold Giersz, Jerzy Kuciao and Zbigniew Rybczyński or recent works by Piotr Dumała, Aleksandra Korejwo, Tomasz Bagiński, Damian Nenow and Piotr Szczepanowicz.
  • Animac’s closing ceremony will feature all nominees from 2013’s Cartoon d’Or festival: Betty’s Blues, by Rémi Vandenitte; I am Tom Moody, by Ainslie Henderson; Kali the Little Vampire, by Regina Pessoa; Off the track (Écart de conduite), by Rocio Álvarez; Women’s Letters (Lettres de Femmes), by Augusto Zanovello; and Head over Heels, by Timothy Reckart and Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly, the latter the winner of Cartoon d’Or 2013.
  • Petit Animac, targeted at children and family audiences, will offer a special musical/animated show by animators Péter Vacz (Rabbit and Deer) and Joseph Wallace (The Man Who Was Afraid of Falling). Three special sessions for scholars will feature award-winning films like the BBC’s Room on the Broom or Swiss fable La Nuit de l’Ours.
  • Uruguayan animated film Anina, by Alfredo Soderguit, will be exclusively screened in the Petit Animac section.
  • Animac Cartoon will offer the latest animated TV series from the Cartoon Network US, such as Rebecca Sugar’s Steven Universe or Peter Browngardt’s Uncle Grandpa. Belgian stop-motion TV series Panique au Village – created by Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar – will also be present with its special 2013 Xmas episode.

Source: Animac 2014