A record number of films were submitted for this ninth edition of the festival – over 1,260 short and feature-length movies – of which 400 productions from over 60 countries will come to Bucharest. This year’s special guest country is Denmark, the home of one of the most prestigious animation schools in the world, The Animation Workshop. The Jacques-Rémy Girerd Retrospective and Animash selection will also be highlights. Here is a must-see selection made by Anim’est officials:
Five films compete for the Best Feature Film and for some of them the award would add to an already impressive list. O Menino e o Mundo / The Boy and the World won this year’s Cristal for the best feature film in Annecy (the most important European distinction for an animated film) and is also Brazil’s proposal for the Academy Awards. Directed by Alê Abreu, the film is a portrait of the traps of the modern world, such as the inexorable march of globalization and its impact on rural communities and cultural traditions, seen through the eyes of a child in search of his father. A marriage of different techniques and styles, such as drawing on paper, 2D and live action, is the key to spectacular visual results.
Some say the Italian film L’Arte della Felicità / The Art of Happiness, Alessandro Rak’s debut in feature film, has the special power of offering pessimists a better perspective on life. A captivating story about the metaphysical connection between two brothers, the 2D/3D animated film is set in an apocalyptic Naples, the perfect background for creative exploitation of the subconscious, slightly reminding of Richard Linklater’s Waking Life. The film was awarded in Venice and Raindance, and got nominated in Annecy, in the feature film competition.
Here is another debut in feature film: Rocks in my Pockets, directed by Signe Baumane, a challenge from many points of view. The American-Latvian co-production is the story of five women of the director’s family, including herself, and their battle with madness. The film is packed with visual metaphors, surreal images and twisted sense of humor. Recently premiering in Latvia, the film was also selected in competition in Fantoche, Seattle International Film Festival and London International Animation Festival.
A modern and fruity version of Shakespeare comes from Estonia: Lisa Limone ja Maroc Orange; Tormakas armulugu / Lisa Limone and Maroc Orange; a Rapid Love Story, a production of a world famous puppet animation studio, Nukufilm. The 3D animated musical directed by Mait Laas has been selected in Annecy, Anima Mundi and Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. The film deals with the issue of illegal immigrants leaving Africa in an attempt to reach Europe, through an impossible love story between Maroc, an orange boy – a brave hero bound by prejudice and poverty, and Lisa, the daughter of a rich businessman, a lemon girl passionate about collecting singing seashells.
Last but not least, the fifth title in the feature film competition is Manieggs – Revenge of the Hard Egg, a Hungarian production, an independent project signed Zoltán Miklósy, its director. It is a 3D animated film which was screened in Annecy this summer. Two inmates seek revenge on their release from jail after serving a two-week sentence for a crime they did not commit. The film illustrates the extremities of our time and the injustice that surrounds us, and is sprinkled with the baldest humor.
The short film international competition consists of 56 films. Among the must-see titles we mention Man on the chair (directed by Dahee Jeong), winner of a Cristal in Annecy this year. You will also want to watch Hipopotamy / Hippos (directed by Piotr Dumala), whose soundtrack is signed by Alexandru Bălănescu – the film won the Grand Prix in Animafest Cyprus and the Jury Mention in Animafest Zagreb. Don’t miss La Testa tra le Nuvole / Absent Minded (directed by Roberto Catani), an Italian film awarded the Jury Distinction in Annecy, and The Obvious Child, a 2D film directed by Stephen Irwin, already selected in Sundance, Anima Mundi Stuttgart, Annecy and Animafest Zagreb.
A special competitive section is dedicated to the student films, and it brings together some of the most non-conformist and personal stories, recent productions of reputed film schools in countries with a long tradition in animation, such as Gobelins, Supinfocom, FAMU, HFF Postdam, CalArts, Royal college of art, National Film and Television School London etc.
The decision makers in terms of awards this year are as follows: film director, screenwriter and animator Robert Morgan from London, in the feature and short film competition jury. Famous especially for The Cat with Hands, The Separation and Bobby Yeah (BAFTA nomination in 2012),Morgan signed a series of animated and live-action films certainly not recommended to the faint-hearted, “haunted’ by the influence of Francis Bacon, Edgar Allan Poe or David Lynch, and awarded at Sundance, Rotterdam, Clermont-Ferrand. Amid Amidi is the publisher and editor-in-chief of CartoonBrew.com, and the author of six books about animation art and history. He worked in the animation industry and travelled the world as a lecturer, programme curator or jury member (Ottawa, Anima Mundi, KLIK!, Anifilm, Vimeo Festival). Christian Pfohl is a producer and founder of the famous French label Lardux Films – the producers, over a span of twenty years, of over 70 short films, dozens of documentaries, TV series and music videos. He got known for the documentary Les 4 saisons d’Espigoule (1999) and the short films Notes sur les lumières (2001) and Je m’appelle (2002).
The jury for student competition, Romanian short film competition and Balkanimation brings together Lana Tankosa Nikolic – teacher and students; coordinator at the prestigious Danish school Animation Workshop, Yiorgos Tsangaris – artistic director of Animafest Cyprus animation film festival and teacher in the Fine Art programme of the University of Nicosia, and Laurentiu Damian, Romanian film director and screenwriter, Professor of the UNATC (National University of Theatre and Film “I.L. Caragiale”, Bucharest) and president of UCIN (Romanian Filmmakers Union).