Search form


The National Competition which showcases the best of Portuguese animation is the highlight of the festival.

Portuguese Animation Takes Center Stage

  Cinanima has all of the competition programs, workshops, and special screenings that other festivals have, but for me, the National Competition which showcases the best of Portuguese animation is the highlight of the festival. With just a few exceptions such as Jose Miguel Ribeiro, Joanna Toste, and Regina Pessoa most Portuguese animators are not well-known outside of their own country.

  That all changed this year when Joao Gonzalez’s Ice Merchants and The Garbage Man by Laura Gonçalves from BAP Studio were short-listed for the Oscars. Ice Merchants has gone on to make history by being the first Portuguese animated film to be one of the five Academy Award finalists.  David Doutel and Vasco Sa also of BAP Studio made history this year when their film Garrano became the first Portuguese short animated film to be screened at the Sundance Film Festival.

Ice Merchants  

  The António Gaio Award, named for the person who was director of the festival for over thirty-five years, is given to the best Portuguese animation. With Ice Merchants, The Garbage Man, and Garrano all in competition for the António Gaio Award along with five other strong national films it was anyone’s guess who the National Jury would give the award to.

With Laura Gonçalves and her two awards

  It was awarded to Laura Gonçalves for The Garbage Man. The film was also named the Best Animated Documentary. It is a lovely homage to her uncle Botão, who emigrated to France from Portugal in the 1960s. He was a garbage man and on visits back to his native village he always brought gifts, sometimes useful, sometimes silly, that he had saved and repaired from the trash that he collected. He died when Laura was young and her memories of him come from family stories.  The sound and music of the film is made up of recorded conversations that Laura’s relatives had during meals at family get-togethers where they reminisced about Uncle Botão’s visits back home.

The Garbage Man

  The National Jury also awarded a Special Mention to Vasco Sa and David Doutel for their poignant short Garrano. The pair, who are co-founders of the BAP Studio Collective in Porto, create visually stunning films about Portuguese social issues. A garrano is an endangered breed of horse that lives in the mountains of Northern Portugal. The other element of their film is fire, which is becoming more and more of an ever-present threat throughout Portugal.


  The festival Grand Prix for a Feature Film was awarded to the Portuguese, Spanish, French co-production Os Demonios Do Meu Avo (My Grandfather’s Deamons). Portuguese animator Nuno Beato’s film tells the story of Rosa, a successful designer living in a faceless big city. After her grandfather’s sudden death she realizes that she does not feel connected to the people around her, the city she lives in, or where she works. Rosa returns to the home in the small village where her grandfather raised her. Thanks to a series of letters and clues she discovers that her grandfather left her an important task to do which will help her to make peace with herself while she repairs her grandfather’s past mistakes.

My Grandfather’s Deamons

Festival goers had the opportunity to see the sets along with the over three dozen clay puppets of people, animals, demons and other fantastic beings inspired by the naïve works of the long tradition of clay artists from the north of Portugal. The sets of the village where Rosa grew up are especially remarkable for their attention to detail. The story takes place in a specific region of Portugal, the territory of Tras-os-Montes in the northeastern part of the country. Extensive research was done to duplicate the red color of that region’s earth as well as the plants that are indigenous to that area. The puppets are impressive but the intricate detail of the sets was the highlight of the exhibit for me.

  The Audience Award went to a Portuguese film, Jose Miguel Ribeiro’s feature film Nayola. The co-production with Belgium, France, and the Netherlands is a complex film that intertwines the past and the present. It is set in Angola. The story is about three women whose lives are affected by the war in Angola which connects them in a deeper way than being related can. Lena, the grandmother, her daughter Nayola, and Lena’s granddaughter Yara all have stories to tell. Nayola went missing while searching for her husband at the battlefront when Yana was just a baby. The war is over but Nayola has not returned home. Yana has turned into a rebellious teenager who sings subversive songs. One day a mysterious stranger appears and everything changes.


  Nayola is a film that should be watched more than once to catch all of the details. The battlefront scenes are vivid in bold reds and yellows that create tension. The original music by Alex Debicki sets the pace and mood of the film with just the right mixture of tension and warmth. Nayola, based on the play Caixa Preta (Black Box) by Joseana Sousa, is Jose Miguel’s feature film directing debut.

  The festival Grand Prix was awarded to Bestia by Hugo Covarrubias from Chili. This was not a great surprise since this film has won numerous festival awards. It also has been awarded an Annie and an Oscar nomination. Based on a true story, the film takes us into the life of a female secret police agent who specializes in torture during the brutal dictatorship of Pinochet in the 1970s.


  The International Short Film Jury also gave a Special Mention to the darkly humorous A Tiny Man by Aude David and Mikael Gaudin from France. The film is a moral tale about a man who is ashamed of his wife because he thinks that she is too fat. He tries to secretly give her a potion that will make her thinner but his plan backfires and he is the one who rapidly begins to shrink. The film is beautifully drawn with a textured look that softens this biting tale, but not too much. It is a film about sexism and several other isms as well.

A Tiny Man

Cinanima traditionally has many programs geared toward families. One of my most fun screenings was Mironins, is a series of 26 episodes of around seven minutes each that was made for television in 2021. A selection of the episodes was put together to make a one-hour program.


  Created by Spaniards Mikel Binbao and Txesco Monta, each episode explores the paintings of Joan Miro, one of the great figures of 20th-century art. Each night when the Miro Foundation Museum closes, three drops of paint, one blue, another one yellow, and a red drop, escape from one of the renowned artist’s paintings. Blu is a sensitive scatterbrain, Low is a sometimes grumpy smartass, and Ro is fearless and strong. The three Mironins travel from one painting to another having adventures as they meet the surreal characters in Miro’s real-life paintings. Granted, the series was created for 3-year-olds and up, but anyone who loves the Spanish painter’s work can enjoy the films.

View from Regina and Abi’s home

  A highlight of the festival was the trip to Regina Pessoa and Abi Feijo’s Casa Museum de Vilar (Museum of Animation). It is located on a beautiful 19th-century estate where Abi was raised, outside of Lousada, about a forty-minute drive from Espinho amid rolling hills and grapevine-filled terraces. The estate is located on Rua Rui Feijo, which shows how the local community holds in such high esteem Abi's family.

Regina and Abi greeting us at Casa Museum de Vilar

  Upon arriving, we were greeted at the front gate by the pair. Abi was dressed in top hat and tails, as befits the master of a museum of animation, which occupies three rooms in the main house. The first room is devoted to displays of early forms and methods to set images in motion, such as the thaumatrope, zoetrope, phenakistoscope, and a beautiful magic lantern. There were also numerous zoetrope strips on display.

Abi talking about his collection of early animation memorabilia

As Abi talked and demonstrated his impressive collection it was obvious what joy he has presenting his magnificent collection to an audience. Everything was well displayed and easily viewable. One of his great pleasures is presenting magic lantern shows at festivals and museums.

Magic lantern and zoetrope strips

  A second room showcased various animation techniques and demonstrated them using materials from Regina and Abi’s films. In their over twenty-five years of work in animation, the couple has used a variety of different techniques. In this room, you can see examples of animation created using drawing, cutouts, engraving on plaster board, sand animation, engraving on paper, and computer animation.

Materials from Regina and Abi’s films

  The third area is dedicated to the display of international animation. It contains original artwork and puppets from many well-known films. I was especially happy to see a beautifully crafted Madam Tutli-Putli puppet from a film that is still one of my favorites.

Madam Tutli-Putli puppet

In a separate building, there is a work area and a screening room and also a good-sized library and a gift shop. The couple offers workshops and screenings to groups. The Museum is open to the public by reservation only. You can contact Abi and Regina about a visit at Anyone interested in the history of animation will find a visit to the museum a rich and rewarding experience. I would allow an hour and a half to two hours for your visit.

Pointing the way to the museum Group photo on the museum steps

  The special presentations, masterclasses, and exhibitions were expanded and utilized several other locations in the city besides the theatre lobby and exhibition area. The Casino Espinho has a lovely screening room where many programs for families were shown. Casino screenings also included panorama programs on the environment, human rights, women, and social issues.

Master of Ceremonies Alexis Hunot feeling visions of animation in his head after visiting the museum

  This year French journalist and animation historian Alexis Shigeru Hunot was the master of ceremonies, introducing the screenings and interviewing the filmmakers. He also curated a program, Senses and Sensibility which included such classics as Marta Pajek’s Impossible Figures and Other Stories and How Long, Not Long by Michelle and Uri Kranot. It was a thought-provoking group of films.

  The first time that I saw the four small paintings by Italian Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo in The Louvre I was amazed and in awe of his work. I still am. Arcimboldo (1526 – 1593) was best known for creating imaginative, rather bazaar portraits made entirely out of fruits, vegetables, flowers, and fish.

Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo

  When I saw a workshop listed in the festival catalog inspired by Arcimboldo’s work, I was curious to see what the participants would create. I was hoping that they would be making their own portraits with real fruit and vegetables and then animating them. It turns out that the goal of the workshop was to give the original paintings by Giuseppe Arcimboldo movement, expression and a voice. The group used Adobe Character Animator to bring the paintings to life. It was an interesting exercise.

  The National Film Board of Canada is renowned for the high quality of its animation and films. Galician author Severiano Casalderrey presented his book The National Film Board of Canada and the Golden Age of Its Short Films (1965 – 83). Written with the approval and cooperation of the National Film Board and support from Film Board producers Julie Roy and Marc Bertrand, the book deals with animation, live-action shorts, and documentary films. Just like the National Film Board which has an English and a French speaking arm, Casalderrey’s book is in English and Galician. Turn it one way and you are reading English, turn it over an you have the Galician text. Both halves have the same photos.

Severiano Casalderrey with The National Film Board of Canada and The Golden Age

Anyone interested in animation or film will find the book interesting and informative. Chapters include a brief history of the NFB, exploring the limits of animation, cinema as a form of activism: Challenge for Change/Société Nouvelle and Musicians of the National Film Board.

  I found the chapter on Supporting Female Talent: Studio D and the Challenge for Change particularly interesting. Studio D was the first publicly funded production unit in the world to focus on the creation of films for, by, and about women. Established in 1974 and continuing for two decades, Studio D earned the National Film Board of Canada three Academy Awards.

  Along with the fact-filled text there is a handy appendix with such information as a listing of all of the NFB Commissioners up to the present and a roster of Oscar nominated films from the Golden Years. There is also a selected filmography of short films produced between 1965 and 1983.

  The National Film Board of Canada and the Golden Age of Its Short Films (1965 – 83) is part of a series on film created by The Bueu International Short Film Festival which is held annually in Bueu, Spain. It is published by FICBUEU Monographs. You can find out more about all of the books in the series at and the book can be purchased from the festival for €10 from the festival online store at

   With all of the film programs, exhibitions, symposiums, and masterclasses, Cinanima was a very rich and rewarding experience once again this year. The success of Portuguese animation this year only added to the excitement. Of course, there was also time for fun and relaxation.  Each evening we gathered at the DOOBOP Bar on the beach where we partied the night away.

  A very big thank you goes out to festival Executive Producer Cristina Lima for inviting me to be part of the event. A well done goes to Johnny Marques, Artistic Programming Coordinator and congratulations to all of the festival staff and volunteers for a successful festival.

  The 2023 Edition of Cinamina Will take place from the 13th to the 19th of November 2023

  Call for entries will open on 1 March 2023.

  You can learn more about the festival and how to submit your film at:

The Awards

The Awards


Grand Prize CINANIMA 2022 - Espinho City Award

BESTIA - Hugo Covarrubias – Chile

Jury Special Award

A TINY MAN - Aude David, Mikaël Gaudin – France

Award For the Best Short Film Up to 8 Minutes - Alves-Costa Award - DON’T DIE ON ME - Ori Goldberg – Israel

Award For the Best Short Film Over 8 to 24 Minutes

STEAKHOUSE - Špela Čadež – Slovenia, Germany, France

Award For Best Animated Documentary

THE GARBAGE MAN - Laura Gonçalves – Portugal

Award For Best Animated Documentary

#BINARYGENDER-NORM: GIRLS - Bernardita Ojeda Salas, Cristián Freire Azzarelli – Chile


Grand Prize CINANIMA 2022 Feature Film

MY GRANDFATHER’S DEMONS - Nuno Beato – Portugal, Spain, France

Special Mention - Feature Film

NO DOGS OR ITALIANS ALLOWED - Alain Ughetto – France, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal


Grand Prize CINANIMA 2022 Student Films Gaston Roch Award

CURIOSA - Tessa Moult-Milewska – United Kingdom

Special Mention - Student Films


Audience Award

NAYOLA - José Miguel Ribeiro – Portugal, Belgium, France, Netherlands


António Gaio Award

THE GARBAGE MAN - Laura Gonçalves

António Gaio Special Mention

GARRANO - Vasco Sá, David Doutel

Young Portuguese Director Award (Under 18 years old)

MAGICAL CHERRY TREE  - Graça Gomes, Participant Schools of the Project: Pequeno Cinema 2021/2022 Viseu

Young Portuguese Director Special Mention (Under 18 years old)

THE SMALL MEMORIES - Ana Emília Valente, Carina Silva, Elisabete Pereira, Filipe Oliveira, Firmino Matos, Isabel Matos, Joana Sousa, Margarida Beirão, Manuel Sousa, Maria Adelaide Teixeira, Paulo Brito, Pedro Rebelo, Sandra Almeida, Sofia Anjos, Vera Santos, Vitor Marques, Zelinda Moutela

Young Portuguese Director Award (More than 18 to 30 years old)

 DUO - João Levezinho

Young Portuguese Director Special Mention (More than 18 to 30 years old)

Fire Embrace - Augusto Rocha