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Beyond My World

The long wait has paid off. After it was cancelled due to Covid-19 on its usual date in July, Poland's largest animated film event, the Animator Festival, is set to take place in early October.

Frame from an animated film: a man on a bicycle seen from behind, riding along a road. Trees on the left. - grafika artykułu
photograph courtesy of film distributor

To keep the audiences safe, the festival will, for the first time ever, adopt a hybrid format combining offline appearances (in Muza Cinema, the Castle Cultural Centre and on the Stage Upstairs) with online streamings in virtual screening rooms on the animator-festival.com website. The festival's slogan this year, "Beyond My World", is very appropriate for our times as it refers to pushing one's limits and striving to transcend one's worldview.

"What would we discover if we saw ordinary situations and daily rituals and habits from a whole new perspective? What would we see if we looked at the world and humanity through the eyes of a time traveller or an extra-terrestrial? What key qualities, emotions and values would they find that all people share regardless of their countries of origin, tastes, beliefs, genders and cultures? Or if, as in a computer game, we could create, from the ground up, a simulation of an ideal world, a perfect planet - what rules would apply, which parts of our day-to-day life would we want to copy and which would we rather keep out?", ask the organisers in the festival's promotional materials.

In keeping with this year's main theme, Animator will feature Animation Against Conflicts: screenings of short films on social and ideological conflicts around the world, 3 Logical Exists: animated films on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Animating the Climate: a project by the students of the Department of Animation of the Poznań University of Fine Arts prepared especially for Animator with reflections on climate catastrophe and environmental threats.                               

The short and the long

No edition of the festival would be complete without the International Animated Film Competition, which includes both short and long films. The statistics are promising: about sixty short and feature films will be shown, selected from over a thousand submissions. For the authors, this is both a test of their skill and an opportunity to present their work to a wider audience. For the fans of the genre, it is a chance to view the latest animation productions from around the world.

A total of 47 short films will be shown in this year's competition. They are divided into six thematic groups that include Towards Childhood, Life as a Fatal Disease, Film is a Dream, and Crouching Evil, Hidden Good. The feature film showings will include The Unseen from Iran (dir. Behzad Nalbandi), the Circumstantial Pleasures form the US (dir. Lewis Klahr) and Away from Latvia (dir. Gints Zilbalodis).

For two years now, the Festival has additionally included the Animator.pl Polish Animated Film Competition designed to provide an overview of the achievements of Polish filmmakers. 33 films that have reached the finals have been assigned to the four screening categories of Everyday Chronicles, Woman's Point of View, Intimate Microworlds and Reality is Elsewhere.

Women, children and bears

Notably though, the competition is not the only opportunity to view premiere animations. In the Women's Voice series, an annual overview of the latest short films made by animators from around the world, the Festival showcases I Am OK: a set of short films by Lizzy Hobbs, a charismatic UK animator who has garnered scores of awards at international festivals. As in previous years, showings will include films that have won awards in this year's edition of the world's most prominent animation event: the Annecy International Animation Film Festival (held in Annecy, France).

For the viewing pleasure of the youngest festival goers, there is the Animator for Children programme featuring two screenings of the short film Tomorrow's Animator, and showings of the best children's' animations and of the Italian-French feature film The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily by Lorenzo Mattotti, which premiered in cinemas around the world this September.

Prepare as well for a sneak peek behind the scenes to learn about the making of animated series, including the Netflix original productions BoJack Horseman and Tuca & Bertie, and about how computer game makers harness the vast technological and narrative possibilities of animated cinema.

Journey into space with David Bowie

One of the most noteworthy special events is the Animated Night Show: Solo Act: a night with animators from Poland and abroad presenting the funniest, craziest and strangest short animations, and their own unusual experiences and adventures working as animators. The special guests of the night will be Michael Frei of Switzerland, Renata Gąsiorowska of Poland, Mike Hollingsworth of the USA and Chintis Lundgren of Estonia.

Equally exciting is the Festival's opening with the promising title Cosmic Animations with Live David Bowie Songs. It is an audio-visual project commemorating last year's 50th anniversary of man's landing on the moon that combines live animations by Paulina Ziółkowska (author of this year's festival opening) with a live performance of David Bowie's iconic songs. The common denominator between the two is space and interplanetary travel. Another audio-visual project is Wyraj - kakofoNIKT with live animations of the director and animator Tomek Siwiński.

The online part of the programme also includes meetings with film directors, animators, producers and distributors, master classes, training sessions and presentations. As every year, and despite formidable odds this year, the programme bursts at the seams, chuck full of animation titbits from the world's top league artists. Finally, do not forget that Animator is an Oscar qualifying festival...

Anna Solak

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • 13th Animator International Animated Film Festival
  • 3-9 October

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2020