World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb 2022, which celebrates half a century of existence this year, was officially opened tonight at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The ceremony, directed by Krešimir Dolenčić and broadcast live on HRT’s Channel Three, kicked off the most important Croatian and one of the world’s leading animation festivals, taking place from June 6 to 11 at the Student Centre, Tuškanac Summer Stage and Cinema, as well as many other locations around the city. The anniversary edition of Animafest was opened by the Mayor of the City of Zagreb, Tomislav Tomašević.
Fifty years of an animation festival is something that few countries, let alone cities, can boast of. Animafest is the great pride of Zagreb. Balthazar is still my favorite cartoon because I can say that Balthazar is Zagreb, and Zagreb is Balthazar. Somebody like Balthazar would be most welcome to fix all the problems in the city we have these days. This success of the festival is because of its anima, the soul or the spirit, provided by its organizers. I will therefore encourage citizens to come and visit the festival. Celebrating its 50th birthday, I declare the World Festival of Animated Film - Animafest Zagreb officially open - said Tomašević.
On the terrace of the MSU, representatives of the Minister of Culture and Media of the Republic of Croatia Vjera Matković, Assistant of the Head of the City Office for Culture, Intercity and International Cooperation and Civil Society Nikola Stojadinović, high representatives of the diplomatic corps, media representatives and distinguished guests of the international animation scene were also addressed by Christopher Peter Marcich, director of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Zdenka Badovinac, director of MSU, Daniel Šuljić, artistic director of Animafest, Matea Milić and Paola Orlić, producers of Animafest, and winners of the annual festival awards Nedeljko Dragić (Lifetime Achievement Award) and Matthew Lee (on behalf of the Best Animation School – National Film and Television School of the United Kingdom).
My childhood, as well as my old age, were marked by war. In any war, man has only two options - to become good or to become evil. I chose goodness and art. During my childhood, art for me was caricature and humour. All my work tells stories about the time in which I lived and dreamed of a more beautiful life, a life that exists in our dreams. As the great 15th-century French poet and murderer, François Villon said, and that is the motto of my life, I die of thirst during the flood, I laugh through the tears, and I play while working. My home is everywhere, and my homeland is foreign to me, I know everything, I know nothing - said Nedeljko Dragić, who was presented with the award by the President of the Festival Council Margit Antauer. A retrospective of this great master’s films will be screened on Wednesday, June 8 (SC, 4.30 pm), and some of his works are part of the large theme section of this year’s Animafest dedicated to the Zagreb School of Animation.
This is a very important festival for our students. Over the years, we have presented many films here and this award is a great privilege for our school – said Lee. An NFTS retrospective is scheduled for Tuesday, June 7 (SC, 3:30 pm).
The award for outstanding contribution to animation studies, the explanation of which was read by Animafest councilor Nikica Gilić, will be presented to Rolf Giesen later. As an invited speaker, Giesen will join the Animafest Scanner IX symposium via video link, which will take place on June 7 and 8 at the &TD Theatre (10 am – 5 pm).
The continuity of Animafest is a real little local wonder of the world – that since 1972 in Zagreb every year one cultural event confirms its global significance and, for a week, turns Zagreb into the world’s center of animation. Since Zagreb is the city of animation, maybe it's time for its own Museum of Animation - pointed out Šuljić.
When you have 1,800 submissions, 350 guests, and so many locations, it’s a recipe for chaos. But not for us because we have the best team in the world. They are all professionals, but above all wonderful people, and because of them this job is not chaotic, but the most beautiful job in the world - concluded Milić and Orlić.
This festival has integrated into the very core of the world's animation scene and our capital. If the Zagreb School first put Zagreb on the animation map of the world, then Animafest preserves that rightful place each year - said Marcich.
Zdenka Badovinac pointed out the almost 50-year-long cooperation between MSU (formerly the City Gallery of Contemporary Art) and Animafest since 1974 when an exhibition dedicated to the Zagreb School of Animation was set up there.
Academy Award Nominees Joanna Quinn and Les Mills, Vesna Dovniković, Urša Raukar, Vili Matula, Naima Balić, Goran Pipo Pavelić, authors Eva Cvijanović, Pedro Rivero, Alexandra Ramires, Pedro Serrazina, Petra Zlonoga, Chintis Lundgren, Lucija Bužančić and others were present. Music songs from the history of the Zagreb School were performed by Gungula, the ceremony was hosted by Ivana Ostojčić and Boško Picula, and the guests were interviewed live by Anja Cerar.
After the ceremony in the Gorgona Hall and on HRT’s Channel Three, the documentary film The City of Animation about the history of Animafest and its unbreakable connection with Zagreb directed by Tiha K. Gudac premiered. Visitors were also able to see five festival exhibitions set up at MSU and opened during Animafest: Animafest Zagreb 1972-2022, Nedeljko Dragić: The Line Tamer, Paul Driessen: The Origin of Sound, Timo Viljakainen: Behind the Eyes of the World and Behind the Scenes 4.
The beginning of Animafest 2022 film programmes will be marked on Monday, June 6, by the screening of the Grand Competition - Short Film 1 with three world premieres (SC Cinema, 8 pm) in the presence of more than 300 foreign guests.