The 25th World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb was officially opened tonight at Europa cinema. By Sunday, 14 June, the Croatian capital will be swarmed with animation. Cinemas Europa, Tuškanac and Cineplexx Centar Kaptol will show over 300 short and feature films from all over the world, for all generations and all tastes.
In line with the festival theme, Alice in Wonderland, the entire set was tonight inspired by a twisted tea party from this literary sample. The hosts were Animafest’s artistic director Daniel Šuljić, Animafest’s producer Vjera Matković, representative of the Festival Council Nikica Gilić, representative of the Student Competition Selection Committee Ivana Bošnjak and host Ivana Ostojčić, and they were joined by their guests, Head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre Hrvoje Hribar, Head of the City of Zagreb Office for Culture, Education and Sport Ivica Lovrić, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award Michel Ocelot, and Tal Gadon, representative of the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, named the best animation school.
The audience was first greeted by Daniel Šuljić: “This year’s edition is one of the breaking points in the 40-year-long history of our festival. There are several novelties, but the most important is merging the short and feature editions in a unique annual animation feast. We are really glad that from now on we will meet annually, more filmmakers, more friends, more audience, friends, animation family from all four corners of the world,” said Šuljić.
Vjera Matković highlighted that merging these editions was a big step in terms of both programme and production. “That is why I thank the City of Zagreb and Croatian Audiovisual Centre for recognising the importance of further development and making this step with us. I also thank Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme and other partners and sponsors that helped us to make Zagreb truly the world centre of animation for this week.”
The audience was greeted by Hrvoje Hribar, as well, who referred to Alice by saying that animation is the only form of artistic expression that can express its both sides, and Ivica Lovrić, who said that 1600 entries from around 80 countries testify of Animafest’s reputation.
After the introductory speeches, awards were presented to Tal Gadon for best animation school and Michel Ocelot for lifetime achievement. “I remember well when Animafest decided to introduce the lifetime achievement award, I was then active in the international animation association and followed festivals. I remember thinking: such lack of empathy, calling an old man and telling him his life is over. But here I am and I feel – pleasure! It is truly a great honour to be acknowledged by a festival like this. Animafest means a lot to me: here I experienced absolute happiness, winning an award for my first animated film, The Three Inventors," said Ocelot, who is showing his films thanks to collaboration with Rendez-vous, festival of France in Croatia.
The film programme at Europa began with short film competition. Director Phuong Mai Nguyen presented My Home, ZlatkoBourek and Pavao Štalter Wiener Blut, and Gero Doll Advanced Truth. Other films in the programme were Storm Hits Jacket by Paul Cabon, Bear Story by Gabriel Osorio, Nuggets by Andreas Hykade, Zepoby César Díaz Meléndez, and Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove.
After the screening the people gathered at Europa cinema’s terrace, with the musical accompaniment by Mel & The Little Thunders, followed by an after party at the official festival club Vinyl, with DJ Mario Kovač.