Three days of Croatian contemporary animation
This year's International Animation Day, which has been marked by ASIFA Croatia's various events, has given a new approach to this celebration, which has been held regularly since 2002 both in the world and in our country. The International Animation Day (IAD) was marked by separate programs in three cities - Zagreb and Varaždin, in which the one-day program is traditionally organized by the VANIMA association in cooperation with ASIFA Croatia, and from this year in Šibenik where the one-day program was realized in cooperation with the Supertoon association and ASIFA Croatia.
We visited Zagreb's IAD in Tuškanac Cinema. According to the concept of Slave Lukarov, the new president of ASIFA Croatia, the event lasted for three days, which is a significant step up from the earlier years when the event lasted two, and previously even one day.
But, were there enough programs for such an extension?
There was a lot of socializing enabled through a series of "receptions" / breaks between the screenings and the accompanying events, which gave us opportunity to spend a pleasant time in between programs. Accustomed to half-hour breaks between festival screenings, in which regular discussions with the authors are placed and thus almost no breaks, this concept was refreshing. It allowed more interaction between visitors and participants of the event, but still lacked compactness for those visitors who could not devote so much time to the event or were program oriented.
Overall impression was that the one-day extension of the program was more justified by many receptions-breaks than by the richness of the program itself.
Attendance, competition and awards
The slightly lower attendance at this year's IDA, compared to previous years, is likely to have more reasons. One may wonder whether this was due to a lack of promotion of the event and its programs, or due to a three-day length of the program with numerous extended breaks. But, in this reflection one can also wonder about the new concept of awarding.
The competition took place in three categories, and awards were spread over all three days, each day awards were given in one category. In itself an interesting concept, each evening got a festive ending, but it seemed like it lacked a grand finale at the end, which would surely gather more visitors at the event.
Also, a block of screenings of the award-winning films and films that received special recognition at the end of the event would allow visitors to see them all one more time, and for one who could not visit IDA for all three days to see the prominent films that the jury singled out in this one-year selection of Croatian production of animated movies.
The jury of Jelena Oroz, Petra Zlonoga and Andrej Rehak presented awards:
In the category of short animated film - the main award went to the movie Breath of Life by Ivana Bošnjak and Thomas Johnson; special recognitions were given to the films The Odd Bath by Mr. Otmar by Niko Radas, and The Cat is Always a Woman by Martina Meštrović and Tanja Vujasinović.
In the category of short student animated film - the main prize went to the film Growing Up in a Small Tree by Noemi Ribić; special accolades were given to the films Taximeter and Mediocre Psychoses by Mihaela Ercega, Smile by Matea Kovač and M by Karla Skok.
In the category of short animated film for children - the main prize went to Petra Kozar's debut film The First Step; special accolades went to the films Balad on the Flute and Necklace by Martin Babić and Florigami by Ivo Ćirić.
Pitching and Speed Date
An important novelty of the event was the very successful ASIFA Pitching Forum, consisted of two parts - pitching itself and the so-called Speed Date. Draško Ivezić (ASIFA Croatia Vice President) initiated the idea of incorporating the Pitching Forum into the regular IDA program. In introductory speech he pointed out the importance of feedback for authors in early stage of their development of a project, especially from expert audiences and fellow authors, and that the ASIFA Pitching Forum is dedicated to do just that.
The audience was certainly interested in getting more extensive informations about upcoming projects, and through Speed Date we all had the opportunity to talk to the authors one-on-one about projects that we were particularly interested in and about potential future collaborations.
A team of experts - Martina Meštrović, Daniel Šuljić and Matija Pisačić, with their comments and suggestions after each presentation, tried to direct the participants, point out what was good or warn about possible problems. Within Speed Date they could choose with which author to discuss further and to encourage them as much as possible to realize their projects.
The participants of the forum were Ivica Valentić, whose presented project Bookworm 2: How much for the exam? triggered numerous reactions and inquiries, while the first part of this multimedia project - the animated film Presentation of the Bookworm, we could see the next day as part of a competition for short animated films for children. Anja Pletikosa introduced the project Stopping The Rocket Again, which she is developing from a theater play of the same name, and Maida Srabović presented her work on the film Fačuk. Participants had the opportunity to receive training prior to the Forum itself, in order to know how best to present their projects both at this forum and at the major professional presentations of this type in the world.
Attendance of the ASIFA Pitching Forum at the Small Hall of Tuškanac Cinema was high, its duration was well measured and the selected projects were interesting.
Particular attention was drawn to the short animated film Fačuk by Maida Srabović, produced by Tetrabot, for which Stipan Tadić is doing the original design. The film is thematically and stylistically inspired by the Hlebine School of Naive Painting, especially its second-generation artist - Mijo Kovačić. This fantastic world intertwined with folk tradition was part of the growing up of the author who is originally from Podravina, so the project is very personal. Author and her team prepared an excellent pitch and interested everyone in the further development of the project. We look forward to seeing it premiere in 2021.
Lifetime Achievement Award and Exhibition
The ASIFA steering committee has decided to reintroduce the Lifetime Achievement Award to deserving authors and professionals in the field of animation. This year the award was to be presented to Boris Kolar, the doyen of Croatian animation. Unfortunately, Kolar declined the award for personal reasons, dissatisfied with the selection of past laureates to whom the ASIFA Lifetime Achievement Award was previously awarded. The initiative is praiseworthy, so hopefully the Committee will not be discouraged by this rejection.
The authorial genius and life work of Boris Kolar were nevertheless marked by an exhibition in the cinema lobby. In the breaks between the screenings and other accompanying programs, we could see Kolar's films, flip through a volume of Kerempuh's editions from 1950 and 1951, which, in addition to the illustrations and caricatures of Boris Kolar, include caricatures of Dušan Vukotić and Bord Dovniković. His autobiography Sjećanja i razmišljanja jednog zagrepčanca (2017), as well as some of the books in which Kolar has participated as an illustrator, have also been listed. We were able to see his original drawings and prints from the films, along with a few obligatory cels (drawings on animation foil) from episodes of Professor Balthazar, in which he participated as a director and lead cartoonist.
Finally, it would be good if the planned programs were finalized a little earlier, so that information other than the actual ones would not be published in the press announcements or the printed program of the International Animation Day.
In any case, we had a good time, were informed and were pleased to see the selection of Croatian animated film production from the past year. The children equally enjoyed Sunday being their day, and it started with a well attended workshop, continued with screenings of films for children in the award competition, and ended with a screening of Wonderful Forest in honor of the recently deceased Milan Blažeković. This also ended the entire International Animation Day program.
REVIEWED BY: Tanja Masnec Šoškić