Did you know that Oscars, the most media-prominent film awards in the world, are decided in Zagreb, as well? Did you know that one Croatian animator won it shortly after this artistic discipline was even launched in Croatia? And did you know that because of all this, today in Croatia we have one of four most important animation festivals in the world, whose winner directly qualifies for the Oscar run?
The story about the connection between Oscars, animation and Zagreb is one of the thematic backbones of this year’s Animafest, also celebrating 65 years of the Walter and Norbert Neugebauer’s The Great Meeting, created by a group of enthusiasts in 1951, marking the beginning of the today famous Zagreb School of Animation.
Only ten years later, in 1961, The Substitute by Dušan Vukotić won the Academy Award and made history as the first ever non-American filmmaker to win this honour, after which Croatian films had three other nominations – Vukotić’s The Play, Nedjeljko Dragić’s Tup-Tup, and Dream Doll by Bob Godfrey and Zlatko Grgić.
All five of these animation jewels will be shown on the big screen at this year’s Animafest in a special section, following a lecture by the famous theorist Giannalberto Bendazzi as part of Animafest’s Scanner symposium (7 June at 12:50, Zagreb Dance Centre), promising to reveal unknown stunning details about Oscars and the Zagreb School of Animation.
Bendazzi’s speech will undoubtedly stir controversies, just like his films included in the selection of most experimental Oscar winners.
Among professionals, not every winner is met with universal approval. Generally speaking, sometimes this award appears conservative in the sense of creative courage, regardless of technical and production-related perfection.
The list of all the nominated and award-winning films, on the other hand, reveal that there is great openness to creative explorations in animation. This section includes several surprising titles like Zbigniew Rybczynski’s Tango, not an animated film at all, as well as theoretically fully experimental Frank Film, or Norman McLaren’s classic Neighbours, which won the golden statue in the documentary and not animation category.
His view of the Oscars will be presented by famous Peter Lord, the co-founder of Aardman Studio (Wallace and Gromit, Chicken Run, The Pirates! Band of Misfits etc.), the production company celebrating its 40th birthday, which garnered 11 nominations and four wins during that time.
And finally, Animafest’s Oscar programme wraps up with a selection of award-winning classics to the choice of the artistic duo and couple producer Marcy Page and composer Normand Roger, whose projects had 19 nominations and eight wins. Marcy chose Ryan and The Danish Poet (Oscars in 2004 and 2006, respectively) and Wild Life (nomination in 2011), and Normand chose from his work The Man Who Planted Trees, Father and Daughter and Every Child (Oscars in 1987, 2000 and 1979).
However, the Oscars are only one of the focus programmes of this year’s Animafest, which includes over 300 films from all over the world. Don’t miss them at Europa and Tuškanac cinemas and Zagreb Dance Cetre, 6-11 June.