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Animafest Zagreb Unveils 2015 Program

With 177 films in competition, the 25th World Festival of Animated Film runs June 9-14 in Zagreb, Croatia.

ZAGREB, CROATIA -- Organizers for the 25th edition of the World Festival of Animated Film, Animafest Zagreb, have announced the full program for the 2015 edition of the Festival, which runs in Zagreb, Croatia June 9-14.

For the first time this year, the Festival will merge its feature and short film competitions, which in the past were held on alternate years. Festival producer Vjera Matković explained the decision to merge the Festival’s short and feature editions: “This increase in production became really hard to follow biennially, therefore transferring to the annual edition was necessary to maintain competitiveness on the international scene and preserve the status of one of the leading international A-festivals,” said the festival producer, adding that this year 1,605 entries were submitted from 77 countries.

The competitions include 177 films categorized, according to the new festival structure, in one feature animation competition and five short animation competitions: short, student, commissioned and children’s competitions, and the new Croatian film section. The programmers were Daniel Šuljić for feature, short, students and Croatian competition, Nikica Gilić and Petra Zlonoga for short and Croatian competition, Ivana Bošnjak and Marko Meštrović for student competition, Lado Skorin for commissioned film competition, and Martina Peštaj for children’s film competition.

Animafest’s artistic director Daniel Šuljić and selection committee member Petra Zlonoga presented the short competition which is, according to Šuljić, still the central festival section, with the best slot. However, he noticed that many productions boast ever-more complex standards, resulting in fantastic visual creations (Storm Hits Jacket), as well as in the fact that short films became longer and consequentially the competition to be even selected became more fierce and the number of films dropped (38 in total).

“Some significant masters of the trade, like Animafest Lifetime Achievement Award winners Paul Driessen and Priit Pärn are presenting their latest films, opposite the legendary Zagreb School of Animation filmmakers Zlatko Bourek and Pavao Štalter. Alongside regular Animafest guests like Andreas Hykade, Theodor Ushev and Torill Kove, this year’s Oscar nominee, and many young filmmakers in their twenties and early thirties, fresh from animation schools, presenting outstanding films proving magnificent talent,” Šuljić said.

Must-see films according to Šuljić and Zlonoga are The Master, a masterpiece by Estonian puppet animation maestro Riho Unt, followed by Suleima, an activist piece by Syrian director Jalal Maghout, Eager, the new curious “dance” film by American Allison Schulnik, as well as the tragic short sand on glass story Zepo by Cezar Diaz Melendez. The program includes Amelia & Duarte by Alice Guimarães and Mónica Santos, whose (love) theme would fit the Museum of Broken Relationships quite well. There are also three Croatian films, Levitation by Marko Meštrović, a film of rich visual symbolism; Estonian-Croatian-Danish co-production, a lovely stylized Life with Herman H. Rott by Chintis Lundgren; and Wiener Blut by Zlatko Bourek and Pavao Štalter, focusing on the persecution of Jews during World War II.

Šuljić also presented the feature competition, whose eight titles continue Animafest’s tradition of following and supporting independent creative films “with brains.” Most of their makers are long-time friends of the local audience, like Signe Baumane and Bill Plympton, the uncrowned king and queen of indie animation. Also, there is the Croatian film by animator Dalibor Barić and composer Tomislav Babić Unknown Energies, Unidentified Feelings, followed by The Boy and the World, the Brazilian hit film which has already garnered an impressive collection of awards, or Song of the Sea by Tomm Moore, this year’s Oscar nominee.

“There are also several feature films suitable for children,” Šuljić said. “Animafest gives them a chance to see different visuals than those produced by the mass assembly-line industrial offer.”

Student selection committee member Ivana Bošnjak presented a section that, among 43 selected films, hides many whose maturity and quality compete with the finest in the “race” for Animafest’s Grand Prix. She added that, at the discretion of the student selection committee, Bezalel Academy of Art and Design won the award for best animation school.

Selection committee member Petra Zlonoga presented a new competition category, Croatian film competition. Šuljić previously explained that it was introduced to highlight Croatian films before the Festival’s foreign guests (authors, curators) and, by introducing the award, its importance will be stressed. This competition includes 17 films, as a cross-section of Croatian animation, some of which are included in other competition categories and comprise works of younger generations.

Šuljić also presented the commissioned film competition, projects with a primary focus on creative film commissioned by different clients, which definitely deserve to be displayed and evaluated. He also said a few words about the children’s film competition, selected according to different age groups by media pedagogue Martina Peštaj.

Matković revealed some other details about this year’s Animafest. As has been previously announced, Lifetime Achievement Award 2015 went to Michel Ocelot, the master of animation and Animafest’s double Grand Prix winner. He will accept the award in person at the Festival’s opening ceremony, and his works will be shown in the Masters of Animation section. Matković added that this year’s theme program will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s famous book “Alice in Wonderland,” which thematically supports both the film and the off-screen program.

Next to film programs, there is also the second edition of the International Symposium on animated film, Animafest Scanner, on June 10 & 11 it will again gather leading animation historians and theoreticians from all over the world. Programs where animation is presented outside cinemas: in museum and galleries (project Animation goes MSU! and exhibitions at ULUPUH gallery) are developed side by side, as well as in the world of video games and in public space through events and AV performances.

The festival partners are the Croatian Audiovisual Centre and Zagreb City Office for Education, Culture and Sport. The student program sponsor is Urbanka Erste Bank.

Source: Animafest Zagreb

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.