Animated Spirits Film Festival showcases the new, the exciting and the unconventional in European independent animation today. The carefully selected films illustrate the spirit of contemporary experimentation, while reflecting on the potential of traditional and original techniques.
ANIMATED SPIRITS – NEW ANIMATION FROM EUROPE is the annual festival in New York City to present the latest contemporary animation from Europe, discovering the diverse new voices in independent animation especially in the Central Eastern European Region. Presented together with the SVA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects, the selections include highlights of the past year in animation, fresh student films from leading European schools and an expanded selection from the Visegrad Four Region – the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia with a special emphasis on women filmmakers. The festival presents some dim, poignant, surreal and unconventional films suggested for audiences 18 and over.
Almost 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the slow and oftentimes troubled process of democratization in the region, animated short films have an increasing approach to reflect on social and political subjects. While artistic animated short films have a tendency in general to evoke the universal condition of human existence, contemporary animation from Central and Eastern Europe combine this with a strong incentive for dealing with issues of the actual world, like the long-term effects of childhood traumas on one’s personality, the gender differences or the personal freedom in today’s society.
FROM THE CURATOR
Disturbing Views on Reality by Anna Ida Orosz
Animated Spirits film festival showcases the leading voices of the Central Eastern European independent animation scene with the mission to raise the awareness of the professional and general audience in the US.
Dim, poignant, surreal, unconventional: these are the first words which come to one’s mind when describing the animated films made in Central Eastern Europe (CEE). This edition of Animated Spirits offers a cornucopia of animated short films from countries like Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Romania. Almost 30 years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and the slow, often troubled process of democratization in the region, animated short films from the region are increasingly reflecting on social and political subjects with poignant contemporaneity. While artistic animated short films have a tendency in general to evoke the universal condition of human existence, the films to be showcased at the festival combine this with a strong incentive for dealing with both timely and evergreen issues of the actual world, such as the long-term effects of childhood traumas on one’s personality, or the gender differences and the matter of personal freedom in today’s society.
In the carefully curated sampling of the program this year, the spotlight is taken by many strong female artists, whose films are probably the most striking from a visual and a thematic point of view. The list of these excellent artists includes Marta Magnuska, Marta Pajek, Wiola Sowa, and Paulina Ziolkowska from Poland, Ivana Sebestova from Slovakia, Chintis Lundgren from Estonia, Reka Bucsi and Viktoria Traub from Hungary, Ana Nedeljkovic from Serbia. In their films, they all strive to create imaginative worlds with a distinct, witty design to provoke your understanding of reality in the most varied ways. Being elaborate portrayals of women and their everyday struggles, films like the spellbinding III by Pajek, the painterly Yellow by Sebestova, the super- sensuous XoXo Hugs and Kisses by Sowa, Oh, Mother! by Ziolkowska or the awkwardly surreal Mermaids and Rhinos by Traub engage the viewers in the complex social issues of the female body and women’s role in today’s society.
Animated short films can provoke your senses in unusual ways. Reka Bucsi’s ambitious opus, the utterly enigmatic Solar Walk, which won the Audi Short Film Award at the Berlinale and the Grand Prize at the 2018 Ottawa International Animation Festival this September, conveys you the thrill of the wonder of outer space. Playing with cinematic raw material, the Croatian Vladimir Kanic’s psychedelic work of art, Only Lovers Leave to Die uses chaos theory in image construction.
You can expect that animated films from Central Eastern Europe provokes one’s sensibility by their bold choices of controversial subjects. The claymation short film Untravel by Serbian artistic duo Ana Nedeljkovic and Nikola Majdak Jr. had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and is a sharp sociocritical reflection on the newly emerging controlled and closed borders in the post-Socialist countries of Europe. Cyclists by Veljko Popovic from Croatia is a profane and amusing satirical piece about ‘the emperors who have no clothes’ set in a sunlit coastal town at the Mediterranean Sea.
In animated film, which is normally not a medium of first choice when it comes to the depiction of reality, you could have witnessed the advancement of the use of documentary methods in the past ten years. Films like Musical Traumas by the ingenious Milos Tomic from Serbia, Trip by Croatian Marko Mestrovic, an abstract animated documentary, or the disarmingly hypnotic The Blissful Accidental Death by Sergiu Negulici from Romania are experimental animations based on true stories. Being the filmmakers’ subjective associations and visionary interpretations, the visual realization of these pieces are either the use of the most common and oldest techniques such as simple paper-cut-outs and drawings-on-paper, abstract paintings on cel or the innovative and artistic use of digital 3D.
Animated Spirits was founded and is organized by Zita Mara Vadasz, Advisor at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest and former director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York and curated by Anna Ida Orosz, lecturer at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, Hungary; both well-known figures in the European animation community.
This year Animated Spirits presents screenings on Sunday, November 4 & Monday, November 5, a networking event (Sunday, November 4) @ the SVA Theatre; talks and presentations by European filmmakers, academics, and other industry figures @ the SVA Computer Arts Center| 133 West 21st St, 3rd Floor, Room 301-C from Monday, November 5 to Friday, November 9.
The presentations will deal with experimental animation by Robert Sowa, professor at the Academy of Fine Arts Krakow, Poland, a filmmaker and restless experimenter whose work was featured at the MOMA in New York, the Centrum Pompidou in Paris, France and many festivals worldwide; game cinematics, digital games and gaming culture in Central Europe by multi- award winning filmmaker and previsualization master David Ringeisen from Hungary and independent animation and digital games extraordinaire Maros Brojo from Slovakia; animated documentary by Eliska Decka, international animation expert and Assistant Professor at FAMU in Prague, Czech Republic and independent filmmaking after school by Oscar shortlisted and Berlinale winner Réka Bucsi, a rising superstar from Hungary.
Since 2015 the festival showcased 86 films from 21 countries in front of a 1500+ registered audience and had 50+ partners like the School of Visual Arts; the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest; EUNIC NY – European Union National Institutes for Culture; Eyeworks Festival Chicago; Asifa USA; Animation Block Party; Animation Nights New York; Austrian Cultural Forum in New York; Balassi Institute – Hungarian Cultural Center in New York; Bonobo Studio Croatia; Consulate General of Estonia in New York; Consulate General of Slovakia in New York; Czech Center New York; Bohemian National Hall; Dutch Culture USA Program of the Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in New York; Flanders House New York; Polish Cultural Institute New York, Italian Cultural Institute; Arte Institute Portugal; Arts Council Malta in New York; Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Washington; Consulate General of Denmark; Consulate of Latvia in New York; Finnish Cultural Institute in New York; 180 Maiden Lane and many more. Our press partner is Cartoon Brew Magazine and the festival was also covered by Animation Magazine and Animation World Network.
In 2018 the festival is powered by The International Visegrad Fund and made possible by MANIFESZT – Association of Hungarian Animation Filmmakers (HU); AniScreen (CZ); Fest Anča International Animation Festival (SK); Galeria Bielska BWA (PL).
The project is co-financed by the Governments of Czechia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia through Visegrad Grants from International Visegrad Fund. The mission of the fund is to advance ideas for sustainable regional cooperation in Central Europe.
The 4th edition of Animated Spirits Film Festival is hosted by and organized in collaboration with SVA Computer Art, Computer Animation and Visual Effects.
Zita Mara is a cultural manager, festival organizer and curator. She graduated from the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) of Budapest with an MA in Political Science. Currently she is working at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest (MOME) as an Advisor to the Rector of the university. She is supervising the Emerging Media Program, a new initiative to develop and launch new educational programs related to film and animation, dynamic media and digital design. She is also a member of the New Campus Strategy Advisory Board and is responsible for international relations.
Before taking on her job at MOME, she was the Director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in New York and was overseeing and coordinating the center’s cultural, academic and satellite programing with external partners related to the center, including the Guggenheim Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, School of Visual Arts, New York University and many more.
Anna Ida is an animation historian, festival programmer and curator. She studied film theory and cinema history at the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE) of Budapest. Currently she is a PhD student at the Institute for Art Theory and Media Studies at ELTE. She teaches animation history at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design Budapest, and has been working as an animation specialist at the Hungarian Film Archive since 2012. She has been in the programming board of the Kecskemét Animation Film Festival (KAFF) since 2009. She is the co-founder and curator of Primanima World Festival of First Animations, which debuted in 2012 in Budaörs, Hungary. She has been a jury member and curated both retrospective and contemporary Hungarian animation programs for major international animation film festivals including Monstra (Lisbon, Portugal), Animator (Poznan, Poland), Anifilm (Trebon, Czech Republic), Dok Leipzig (Leipzig, Germany) and Fest Anča (Zilina, Slovakia). In 2015 she co-curated Hungarian Animation 100, a retrospective exhibition about the past hundred years of animation in Hungary.