Because of the traditional Animafest picnic, this year taking the festival guests to the heavenly Botanical Gardens to rest in the shade of the landscape arboretum and the flower parterre labyrinth, the festival projectors on Thursday will turn on somewhat later than the previous days. And while the animators give themselves away to the charms of Zagreb’s nature and culture sight, attracting countless visitors since 1889 with over 5000 plant species, the retrospective of the Polish School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, the winner of the Best Animation School Award, established in 1948, will begin at the SC Cinema (3.30pm). One of the oldest and most prestigious film schools globally, whose Animation Department is currently led by the legendary Piotr Dumała, is introducing itself with nine works mainly by younger generation female directors, many of which – like Marta Magnuska, Renata Gąsiorowska and Paulina Ziółkowska – are already known to the Animafest audience.
At 5.30pm the same venue is rerunning the Student Film Competition 3, with works like the student Oscar winning Beauty, the minimalist-psychotherapeutic Helfer, the vibrant I’m Not Feeling Very Well by Sunčana Brkulj, and the magnificent The Shadow of the Sun, as well as Marbles by Natalia Spychała, another Łódź student.
Prime time is, as usual, reserved for Grand Competition Short Film, whose fourth block is also marked by Polish creativity. The already mentioned Piotr Dumała, both an animation traditionalist and innovator, a ‘sculptor among animators’, is representing a contemporary outlook on the famous Biblical tale and the iconic painting The Last Supper in his idiosyncratic plaster plaque technique. This black and white etude, referring also to Gustave Doré and placing Christ and his disciples on a speeding train, is accompanied by the sound of a string quartet. A few generations younger, but also acclaimed graduate from Łódź, Izabela Plucińska, the winner of the Berlin’s Silver Bear, appears with a powerfully different Claymation film about obesity and "foot loving" Portrait of Suzanne, which can be read as hunger for closeness or a tale of loneliness and jealousy, but this adaptation of Roland Topor’s surrealist classic will primarily make people laugh with its grotesque. Another wondrous but visually stunning film is the Greek Violent Equation inspired by Kostis Georgiou’s painting, something completely different in the field of computer animation and exploration of the horizons of a dystopian cosmic empire. When it comes to cinemas not seen so often at Animafest, a fascinating Colombian technical bravado of stop motion dystopia and ecological message whose cardboard landscape we wonder in the POV of the protagonist is called Intronaut and is one of the exploratory films that can, in Croatia, be seen only at Animafest. Finally, in a voyeuristic film about cheating, investigation and lust Symbiosis by Nadja Andrasev, the wife follows her husband’s many lovers, cataloguing them as a sort of ‘herbarium’ and ‘terrarium’ of sexual practices and senses. The beautiful colours of Symbiosis speak about alienation, lack of communication and loss of attraction, but avoid objectifying women, turning them into show runners on the carnal market. The Q&A after the screening is hosted by Nino Kovačić.
At 10pm Animafest invites you to the Croatian premiere of Dalibor Barić’s feature animation debut Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus. After a world premiere in Annecy, the champion of Croatian found footage and a globally acclaimed experimentalist, undoubtedly the most significant contemporary Croatian sci-fi filmmaker, is presenting his most ambitious project so far. After a wonderfully received SF trilogy in which he explored lavish and nostalgic visuals made by an intermedia recombination of rich genre history, with a brilliant atmosphere and optical and sound quality winking at the genre lovers, Barić’s explosive imagination raising the cinematic record to the status of humanity’s memory now embarks towards other genres and a somewhat different legacy. Accidental Luxuriance of the Translucent Watery Rebus is a philosophical-revolutionary, animated live action, collage-rotoscopic-photo crime story, a bit reminiscent of Barić’s earlier creativity in reference to ready-made and comic books, with strong contributions from other pop cultural artefacts. A viewer should simply forget about the classical narrative style and delve into this big screen noir sonata. A Q&A with Dalibor Barić in the late-night slot is hosted by Silvestar Mileta.
The Animafest Podcast continues today; Thomas Johnson and Adam Butcher chat with the festival guests on all things animation. It is available on the link: https://bit.ly/2S9RCQ0, and the first episode is already online.
The events at the &TD Theatre begin at 4.30pm with a rerun of the Student Film Competition 1 (the must see Portrait of a Woman, There Were Four of Us and SH_T HAPPENS), continues at 6.30pm with another chance to see Grand Competition 1 (with the Chinese black and white philosophical triptych on time and male-female relationships The Six, stop motion Ties about leaving the family home, Andreas Hykade’s new film about a childhood at the Marian pilgrimage site Altötting, ‘veteran’ intimate family documentary Souvenir Souvenir, My Exercise by Atsushi Wada and the vibrant Croatian queer crime story Murder at the Cathedral) and finishes with a rerun of the Focus on Hungary 3 section (8pm, with Gustav and other classics) and World Panorama 1 (10pm).