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Animafest Zagreb Announces 2016 Lineup

With a spotlight on the rise of Croatian animation, 26th World Festival of Animated Film Zagreb unveils a new animated trailer by young Croatian animator Tea Stražičić, currently an artist-in-residence in Denmark.

ZAGREB, HRVATSKA CROATIAAnimafest Zagreb, 26th World Festival of Animation, is scheduled for June 6th-11th. Over 300 films will be presented to audiences at Europa and Tuškanac cinemas, Zagreb Dance Centre, as well as open-air screenings at Zrinjevac Park. Animafest’s lineup was presented at a media conference on Wednesday by the festival’s artistic director Daniel Šuljić, producers Paola Orlić and Matea Milić, and selection committee members Nikica Gilić and Vesna Meštrić.

The Animation Goes MSU program will begin the festival events with screenings on the media facade of Zagreb’s largest museum, starting on May 24th. The program will be presented by senior curator and one of the selectors, Vesna Meštrić. Animafest will host a series of free open-air screenings in Zrinjevac Park on the two weekends leading up to the festival.

“Last year Zrinjevac transformed into the most beautiful screening venue in Zagreb. The open-air shows attracted a huge public interest. This year we decided to double our offer, as we believe them to be the best possible introduction into the 26th festival edition,” said producer Paola Orlić.

The festival will open with a new animated trailer by young Croatian animator Tea Stražičić, currently an artist-in-residence in Denmark. She joined the conference via Skype and thanked the festival for the trust and long-standing support to Croatian filmmakers.

The central line-up this year consists of six competitions. Over 1700 entries from more than 70 countries were submitted. Competition selectors were Daniel Šuljić (feature competition), Ana Hušman, Draško Ivezić and Daniel Šuljić (short and Croatian film competition), Nikica Gilić, Martina Meštrović and Daniel Šuljić (student competition), Vesna Meštrić and Daniel Šuljić (Animation Goes MSU), and Martina Peštaj (children’s competition).

Artistic director Daniel Šuljić presented the short film competition consisting of 46 titles, including those by the animation masters like Georges Schwizgebel (Switzerland), Phil Mulloy (UK), Igor Kovalyov (Russia) and Theodore Ushev (Canada), as well as key names of independent Chinese animation Lei Lei, Jie Shen, Haiyang Wang and Xi Chen and Xu An. Alongside a new wave of rising animation celebrities like Peter Millard (UK), Paul Wenninger (Austria), Celine Devaux (France) and Laura Harrison (USA), a number of truly noteworthy examples of Croatian animation will be represented in the short film competition by as many as four authors: Marko Tadić with Moving Elements, Veljko Popović with Planemo, Martina Meštrović with Peter’s Forest, and Vladimir Kanić with Only Lovers Leave to Die.

“It has been long since the strict criteria of the central competition opened its doors to four Croatian filmmakers. Animafest has always been dedicating domestic production a lot of attention in different side categories. Since in recent years it has grown to a worthwhile number of about 30 titles a year, last year we introduced a new category: Croatian animation competition. This year (with said four titles and another in children’s competition) it includes ten other films of great diversity in the choice of themes and animation techniques, from the until recently atypical puppet films, to experimental and classic 2D drawings,” commented Paola Orlić.

Daniel Šuljić presented the feature film competition, with nine entries covering different techniques and themes – from the acclaimed Anomalisa by Charlie Kaufman and Duke Johnson, to the Spanish environmental sensation Psiconautas, the Forgotten Children by Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez, to the American documentary hit, the Sundace winner Nuts! by Penny Lane. Inspired by true events are Sabogal, a powerful political human rights drama based on the recent Colombian past, and The Magic Mountain by Romanian author Anca Damian, about an anti-communism fighter, narrated by Jean-Marc Barr. April and the Extraordinary World by Christian Desmares and Franck Ekinci is a story about a girl searching for her parents lost during Napoleonic dictatorship, and Raul Garcia’s Extraordinary Tales is a visually lavish adaptation of five short stories by Edgar Allan Poe. The last two feature competition entries arrive from Japan: the sci-fi Harmony by Michael Arias and Takashi Nakamura, and the cyberpunk tale The Empire of Corpses, focusing on Sherlock Holmes’s partner John Watson.

The children’s film competition received 403 entries, out of which 41 were chosen, selected by media pedagogue Martina Peštaj. They were presented by producer Matea Milić. In her words, this program segment offers a great chance to introduce children to the wealth of animation techniques, from sand, to drawing on glass, classic hand-drawn animation and 3D, to animated sushi – no less! This section also has a Croatian entry, Ivana Guljašević Kuman’s Prehlađeni vuk. Thematically, this category abounds in animal and family stories. For somewhat older children, there are films about identity, solidarity, and the fates of refugee children. Animafest is also organizing educational workshops to raise new generations of audience and prospective animators.

“The student selection this year was extremely diverse and colorful, representing different poetics and animation techniques, tradition through the eyes of young authors, as well as the latest trends and tendencies in digital animation and multimedia poetics. Hungarian and other Central European animations, often grounded on the traditions of absurdity and existentialism, present a real treat to Zagreb’s audience, used to creative animated cinema. Japanese, Korean, Chinese and Taiwanese student works will thrill them with a high level of performance and successful model of modernization of Eastern Asian artistic traditions,” said Nikica Gilić, presenter of the student film competition, member of the Festival Council and one of the programmers.

Animafest award winners qualify for the Oscars, as well as for Cartoon d’Or, lovingly called the European Oscar. For that reason, one of this year’s theme sections are dedicated to the Oscars. The audience will have an opportunity to see the most experimental animated films winning this prestigious award throughout history, as well as a selection of Oscar winners chosen by Marcy Page and Normand Rogers, and finally Croatian titles that competed for the Academy Award. The other theme section is dedicated to the phenomenon of Animanarchy or Animation in the Raw, a historical overview of the key titles in association with curator Alexis Hunot and titles from more recent production.

As announced, the Animafest 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award, at the discretion of the Animafest Council, goes to the Belgian master of animation Raoul Servais. He will receive the award in person at the festival opening ceremony, and his works will be presented in the Masters of Animation section.

The festival also hosts a third edition of the International Animation Symposium Animafest Scanner III. Leading animation historian and theorists from all over the world will gather on June 7th & 8th.

Animation will be permeating museums, galleries (Animation Goes MSU!, ULUPUH exhibitions), video games, public space, hosting events and AV performances. Early bird tickets to the festival shows, with are already available in the Entrio system. Tickets for individual programs will be available early in May.

The festival’s partners are the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and the City Office for Education, Culture and Sport.

Source: Animafest Zagreb