I returned a few days ago from the Czech Republic where I judged the feature film categories at Anifilm, a fun festival situated in the quaint lakeside resort town of Trebon that was filled with great people and positive vibes. The three-person feature film jury consisted of Portuguese filmmaker Regina Pessoa (Tragic Story with Happy Ending, Kali the Little Vampire), Slovenian festival director Igor Prassel (Animateka International Animated Film Festival) and myself. (That’s us in the photo above.)
The Anifilm organizers smartly divided features into two categories: adult and children’s films. We watched five films in each category. In the Adult category, we awarded the top prize to Chris Sullivan’s sweeping and uncompromising Southern Gothic tale Consuming Spirits, and also gave special mention to Don Hertzfeldt’s feature It’s Such a Beautiful Day. These two films alone don’t make a trend, but add Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s My Dog Tulip and Nina Paley’s Sita Sings the Blues to the list, and you could argue that American indie feature animation is experiencing a renaissance right now. All of these films utilize animation effectively to express deeply personal visions.
The other three features in the Adult category—O Apóstolo from Spain, A Liar’s Autobiography from the United Kingdom and Fat Bald Short Man from Colombia—each had positive qualities and exhibited the kind of maturity and narrative ambition that is often lacking in mainstream feature animation fare.