After six exciting days of animation, on Saturday, 11 June, we will find out who won the prestigious awards at the 26th World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb. The award ceremony begins at 7pm, Europa cinema, and apart from the winners of the Grand Prix for best short film, the central prize whose winner qualifies directly for the Oscar run, awards will be presented in the feature, student, Croatian and children’s competitions, as well as the Golden Zagreb Award for creativity and innovative artistic achievement, the Zlatko Grgić Award for best first film made out of an educational institution, and Mr. M Award for best short and feature film of the audience’s choice.
Aside from the closing ceremony, Saturday will be all dressed up in Croatian animation. Two sections, at 1pm and 3.30pm at Europa cinema, will screen 14 titles in the Croatian Film Competition. Once again, four of them were also screened in Short Film Grand Competition (Moving Elements by Marko Tadić, Peter’s Forest by Martina Meštrović, Planemo by Veljko Popović, and the Canadian production Only Lovers Leave to Die by Vladimir Kanić), which is a great success of Croatian animation since this festival category received a total of 800 submitted entries.
Apart from the already accomplished filmmakers, two emerging authors will be introduced, student Petra Balekić with a short introspective film Stronger than You and Martin Babić, who animated the story of the famous vampire Jure Grando, a štrigun from Kringa in Istria. Also, a Christmas tale for grown ups, Arctic Pirate by David Peroš Bonnot, followed by Petra Zlonoga’s visual and sound exploration, Dota.
An important role in the film is played by the traditional song Rusulica, sung by Ivana Rushaidat, and the post-apocalyptic Ghost Town by Marko Dješka. When Nothing Never Happens by Leona Kadijević is the filmmaker’s sort of self-reflection, and an unusual love of a firefly and a cockroach is portrayed in Goran Trbuljak’s They Live by Night. The section also includes Tomislav Šoban’s The End/Land and Travelling Country, a Bulgarian-Croatian allegory of a decadent society by the team of authors Ivan Bogdanov and Vessela Dantcheva, as well as Here There by American author Alexander Stewart, a film produced by Bonobostudio.
Saturday is also the day when Animafest call all families to the movies. The youngest, children age four and over, should take their parents to Tuškanac to the Family Programme, for a host of great animated films at 10am and 12am. At 5.30pm Tuškanac is screening, also in the Family Programme, a magnificent feature film Phantom Boy about the 11-year-old boy called Leo who can become invisible when he pleases and thus – saves the world. Phantom Boy is scheduled for Dubrava Public Open University on 11 June at 11am, and 12 June at Travno and Trešnjevka cultural centres, also at 11am.
Zagreb Dance Centre is hosting three particularly interesting lectures. The famous British author Peter Lord at 11am is speaking about the leading British animation studio, Aardman, founded by Lord and David Sproxton exactly 40 years ago. Since then, the studio has garnered as many as 11 nominations and four Academy Awards. ‘Oscar Talks’ continues on Saturday at 12am, also at the Zagreb Dance Centre, with Marcy Page, a former producer at the NFB Canada. She will be answering questions about the American Academy Awards’ regulations and strategies.
The audience will get a chance to meet Christian Desmares, who is presenting the stages of making his film April and the Imaginary World at 3.30pm, Zagreb Dance Centre. The same venue is hosting a presentation of video games made at the workshop held at the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing, and the fruits of the five-day workshop of projection mapping.
The 26th World Festival of Animated Film has really gathered the crème de la crème of world animation in Zagreb: from the aforementioned Peter Lord, who kept recording and tweeting ‘the Zagreb adventures’ of his iconic character, the clay Morph, to Raoul Servais, a master of animation who won the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Animafest Council, to Marcy Page and Normand Roger, the Canadian couple who worked on a series of Oscar-winning projects.
The audience had a chance to hang out with many other well-known authors like Georges Schwizgebel and Lei Lei, as well as up-and-comers like Laura Harrison. Roaring excitement was caused by author Mari Miyazawa and her sushi art workshop.
The festival announcement was the much loved open-air screening at Zrinjevac late in May, and during the festival a great interest was caused by other side events as well. First of all, Animafest this year for the first time literally took the audience into animation through virtual reality and the interactive installation by PIEdeck (Playful Interactive Environment) team from the University of Applied Sciences Hagenberg. Animafest was the first ever occasion to present the prototype of the installation designed in association with the prestigious innovation centre for new media arts, Ars Electronica Futurelab.
Great attendance also at the Scanner symposium, now a full-fledged conference gathering the finest experts from Croatia and abroad. The symposium stirred a few controversies as well, for instance Giannalberto Bendazzi’s claim that the Oscar-winning film Box is in fact a copy of Borivoj Dovniković Bordo’s Curiosity.
Particular attention of the professional public was attracted by the panel about film culture in the education reform and film education of the youngest audience, to whom Animafest has always paid a lot of attention.
This year’s film edition was coloured by the festival mascot The Substitute (Surogat), the main character from the only Croatian Oscar-winning film. Judging by the festival line-up, history might soon repeat.