With the official opening ceremony at the SC Cinema the 30th World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb 2020 began tonight. Between 28 September and 3 October at the SC Cinema, Kinoteka and &TD Theatre and many other venues across town over 300 artistic animated films will be screened and different side events will take place. The most important Croatian film festival and one of the four leading animation festivals in the world was opened by the representative of the Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Head of the City Department of Culture of the City of Zagreb, Milana Vuković Runjić.
On behalf of the Mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić and personally I wish you a warm welcome at this edition of Animafest. It is impossible to replace the experience of collective enjoyment in film art and for that reason I believe the postponement of the festival was a brilliant decision and I am thrilled to say hello to you here, even from a distance. I don’t need to remind you that Zagreb was struck by a devastating earthquake and I hope 2020 will remain only an inspiration for some future works of art we will probably watch at upcoming Animafest editions. The World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb is officially open – said Vuković Runjić.
The representative of the Minister of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia Nina Obuljen Koržinek, State Secretary Krešimir Partl, high representatives of the diplomatic corps, media representatives and guests of honour from the international animation scene were also addressed by Christopher Peter Marcich, head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Daniel Šuljić, Animafest’s artistic director, and Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, Festival producers.
Animafest’ significance is evident from the edition before us. The number 30 is definitely enviable and Animafest’s significance is additionally highlighted by the fact that it is an A-list animation film festival. The fact that four Croatian films are included in the main programme is amazing, so I wish to congratulate their directors: Natko, Matija, Tvrtko, Lucija and Chintis. The success of our animators, producers and all others included in the making is evident also from the awards they win outside of our county. The Zagreb School and an Academy Award laid our foundations on the international territory. Our films constantly appear in competitions at Annecy and Clermont-Ferrand and garner awards and honours – said Marcich.
It is good to see you at the cinema because that is where the art of animation should be. Just like Francis Bacon painting is not the same in a catalogue, online or live in a gallery, these amazing animation pieces should be watched on the big screen. We were thinking about going online, but the consensus was made to go live. Welcome – said Šuljić.
Thank you Student Centre, our new home. Although it is autumn, we hope you’ve kept the spring animation fire burning. Thank you to our friends, partners and our sponsor Zagrebačka banka, as well as the global animation community and all of you who sent us beautiful letters, praised us and supported us. Animafest’s team is the best in the world and thank you to the Animafest Council for backing our decision to go live – added Orlić.
We haven’t just decided to go live because films should be watched on the big screen, but because festival organisation is something people, an entire host of them, live on. It wasn’t easy this year to keep high spirits, but we really do have it. Everybody had the pandemic, only people of Zagreb had the earthquake and therefore the support of the Ministry of Culture and the Croatian Audiovisual Centre was crucial – said Milić in conclusion.
At the official opening the Lifetime Achievement Award of Animafest 2020 was presented to Georges Schwizgebel, the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies to Chris Robinson and the Award for Best Animation School to the Polish School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź. The Award for Best Animation School, presented by the Student Film Competition Selection Committee consisting of Katrin Novaković, Milivoj Popović and Daniel Šuljić, was received by Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz.
It is a great honour to receive this award on behalf of my alma mater. It is a particular honour to receive the award here in Zagreb, the birthplace of the famous animation school, the place of great tradition and Animafest, one of the oldest and most important festivals in the world. I wish to congratulate our students and tell them that this award belongs to them. I deem that this award truly belongs to the collective and this is particularly pleasing – said Jasińska-Koronkiewicz. A retrospective of the award-winning school is scheduled for Thursday, 1 October at 3.30pm at the SC Cinema.
The famous animation critic, writer and populariser, the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, the ever original and provocative Chris Robinson thanked for the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies, presented to him by Animafest Councillor Nikica Gilić, in a video message.
I am very grateful for this award. I don’t see myself as a historian, critic or scholar – I wrote about animation to educate myself. It is nice to know someone appreciates and loves what I’ve done over the years. I want to thank Tom McSorley, Nick Tosches, Richard Meltzer and Otto Alder and Gerben Schermer, my older ‘brothers in animation’ who made a big impact on me. They were my Virgil. I would also like to thank Kelly Neal, our kids Jarvis and Harrison and Jelena Popovic. And of course, thank you Zagreb and the people who chose me.
Robinson is the keynote speaker at the Animafest Scanner VII symposium, taking place in a hybrid online and offline form on 29 and 30 September at the &TD Theatre from 10am to 4pm.
The president of the Animafest Council Margit Antauer Buba presented the Lifetime Achievement Award to the master of Swiss and global animation Georges Schwizgebel, the most awarded author in the festival history. Despite his age and the global pandemic, this great friend of Animafest didn’t doubt a second about yet another trip to his beloved Zagreb.
Animafest is running since 1972. This was indeed ages ago, but there are those among us who still remember it very well. It is not about the number of award, 7 plus 3 special mentions, it is about the beauty of image and music in his wordless films that tell their own story – said Antauer.
I am happy to be able to visit Zagreb and Animafest so many times. This time I am lost for words to express my gratitude. It is an honour to receive an award at such an important festival and to have my picture in the most beautiful catalogue I’ve ever seen – said Schwizgebel.
A retrospective of Georges Schwizgebel with 15 works from his oeuvre is scheduled for Tuesday 29 September, at 3.30pm at the SC Cinema. The retrospective is accompanied by the exhibition Master of Poetic Visions at the Kranjčar Gallery during the festival. It displays 60 representative paintings, drawings and sketches the Swiss master chose himself. On Saturday, 3 October at 10am, the laureate will have a masterclass at the &TD Theatre under the title The Georges Schwizgebel Method.
In the memory of the deceased titan of Croatian cinema Vatroslav Mimica, who departed this year in February, Margit Antauer said the following:
In his beginnings, the most glorious age of Zagreb Film, Mimica pursued animation and his films will be remembered as the gems of the Zagreb School of Animation. I am sure he is watching and enjoying together with us.
At the ceremony the Animafest trailer 2020 was presented, designed by the Japanese artist Yoriko Mizushiri. This world-renowned animation of particular, pastel and sensual aesthetics is in the focus of another festival retrospective on Tuesday, 29 September at 10pm at the SC Cinema. After the presentation of all the jury members, the ceremony ended with a screening of films from Grand Competition 1 and a Q&A with the present filmmakers Dina Velikovskaya (Ties), Matija Pisačić and Tvrtko Rašpolić (Murder in the Cathedral) and Bastien Dubois (Souvenir Souvenir). The Q&A was hosted by Animafest’s ongoing collaborator, the French animation populariser and critic Alexis Hunot.
At 10pm the event Hungary in Focus took place, screening the feature classic by Marcell Jankovics Son of the White Mare and his Oscar-nominated Sisyphus.