From Oscars to Anarchy – 26th Animafest Makes Zagreb Live Animated Film for a Week

Back in 1972, at the peak of Zagreb school of animated film’s popularity, Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA) had decided to start an animation biennial in Zagreb and called it Animafest. It has, to this day, remained a symbol of Zagreb and one of the most anticipated festivals in the city (and the world when it comes to animated films).  It’s been a lifetime since the first Animafest, 44 years to be exact, and most of the people who started the festival are gone, but on June 6th, when the festival starts, Zagreb will be welcoming an old friend. Raoul Servais, with dozens of awards behind him, including a few Oscars, will come to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, 44 years after his first and last visit to Animafest.

Raoul Servais

Servais’ films shown at his retrospective are just some of 300 animated films, interactive installations, lectures, workshops, exhibitions and performances will be presented on the festival at cinemas Europa, Tuškanac and Zagreb Dance Center from June 6th – 11th.

Oscars are one of this year’s central themes, the other being Animanarchy – Animation in the Raw, introducing the audience to the so-called punk in animation. The festival will try to reconcile and explore two seemingly opposing currents in animation.  These are only two out of 11 theme sections: the focus is on competitions of short, feature, Croatian, student and children’s films, with a special nod to site specific animation and its future in an ever expanding augmented reality around us.


Technology is also in focus of two workshops: one of projection mapping, taking place at Zagreb Dance Center. The results will be presented on the last day of the festival. The other is the already traditional video game workshop in association with the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing. The mentor is Andrej Kovačević, the founder of Exordium Games studio.

Projection mappings of animated films will be shown throughout the city center during the festival.

The festival whose short film Grand Prix winners qualify directly for the Oscar run and its European counterpart, Cartoon d’Or award, opens on Monday with eight short films. The first is the multi award-winning fairy tale based on Geothe’s ballad Erlking by the festival guest Georges Schwizgebel, followed by Very Lonely Cock by Leonid Shmelkov, a six-minute insight into the life of said fowl, and the metaphorical Winter Love by Isabel Herguera. Veljko Popović, one of four Croatian Grand Competition authors, is presenting an allegory about a man cast out of the ‘social orbit’ in the film Planemo. The author well familiar to Animafest’s audience Theodor Ushev has got a new film – the fairy tale Blind Vaysha, and another long-time friend of Animafest, Max Hattler, is coming with his new piece All Rot. The last two films counterpoint each other: the first is an animated live action tale Uncanny Valley by Paul Wenninger, taking us directly into the heart of the World War I atrocities, and the other is Siri Melchior’s feelgood Lili Brushes Her Teeth, a bathroom episode with a playful child and a dog.


Two awards will be presented at the opening: the Lifetime Achievement Award to Raoul Servais, the Belgian master of animation, and the Award for Outstanding Contribution to Animation Studies to the Polish director and producer Marcin Giżycki.

You can check out the program, trailers, exhibitions and all other aspects of the festival HERE.