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‘Isle of Dogs’ Tops Animafest Zagreb Feature Lineup

Grand Competition also includes ‘A Dog’s Life,’ ‘Cinderella the Cat,’ ‘The Magnificent Cake!’ and ‘The Shower.’

‘Isle of Dogs’ is one of eight films in the grand competition for features at Animafest Zagreb 2018, set for June 4-9.

ZAGREB, CROATIA -- Eight animated features -- including Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs -- have been selected for the grand competition at the World Festival of Animated Film -- Animafest Zagreb 2018.

Taking place in a dystopian future, Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion feature about a boy who sets off in search of his dog after the entire species is exiled from the Japanese islands. The film’s voice cast includes Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Yoko Ono. Isle of Dogs has already been honoured at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it premiered as the opening film.

Dogs are something of a recurring theme with this year’s selections, which include the anthology A Dog’s Life by Chang Yi, one of the leading figures of the Taiwanese new wave cinema.

The Italian directorial quartet of Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri and Dario Sansone bring to the festival Cinderella the Cat, a completely modernized version of the classic fairy-tale -- dressed up as dystopian science fiction and made in a creative style combining traditional and computer techniques. The film is set on a futuristic ship trapped in a Naples harbor and haunted by holograms of the forgotten past, while the story follows the daughter of a late scientist, who is left at the mercy of her stepmother, sisters, and a Mafia boss.

For animation connoisseurs, the most eagerly awaited event of this year’s animated feature competition will doubtlessly be This Magnificent Cake! by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels. Swaef and Roels are the creators of the Animafest Grand Prix and Cartoon d’Or winner, Oh Willy … --  a film that swept the animation world with its touching story and masterful use of materials and textures. The duo returns to Zagreb with a feature film made in the same technique using felt puppets. It will be the first screening of This Magnificent Cake! following its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

This year’s competition also features the new film by Benjamin Renner, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales, an anthology film based on the author’s illustrated books. Renner successfully creates an impression of aquarelle and a picture-book in motion, this time with much more humor, but packing an equally emotional punch.

Another stop-motion title is Captain Morten and the Spider Queen by Kaspar Jancis, Henry Nicholson and Riho Unt, which will have its world premiere at Animafest. Jancis, Nicholson and Unt present a coming-of-age allegory following an 8-year-old boy who is magically shrunken to the size of an insect and forced to steer his favorite toy-ship. Unt also is competing in the short program, with his film about a creative nun: Mary and 7 Dwarfs.

The Man-Woman Case by Joëlle Oosterlinck and Anaïs Caura is on the other end of the genre spectrum. It is a French biographical crime mini-series about Eugene Falleni -- a transgender man convicted of cruelly murdering his wife -- and his earlier life marked by violence and the search for identity. Made in traditional, mostly black-and-white techniques combined with rotoscoping and some color, the series won the Jury Award in Annecy.

Finally, the nostalgic Korean The Shower by Ahn Jae-huun focuses on the friendship and innocent love between a girl and a boy in the countryside. Adorned in a truly spectacular color scheme, the film is an adaptation of a beloved and influential Korean 1959 novella, which left a lasting mark on the Korean cinema as well. This melancholy coming-of-age etude doesn’t only offer insight into the poetics of the director -- relying on traditional techniques and known for visually attractive films Green Days and The Road Called Life -- but into the artistic sensibilities of this far eastern nation as well.

Animafest Zagreb is set for June 4-9 in Zagreb, Croatia.

Source: Animafest Zagreb

Thomas J. McLean's picture

Tom McLean has been writing for years about animation from a secret base in Los Angeles.