As countries across Europe tentatively reopen their economies and indoor spaces, the film festival circuit is grinding back into gear. The venerable Animafest Zagreb in Croatia — the world’s oldest continuously running animation festival after Annecy — is among the festivals to have pulled off a real-life edition, albeit with stringent safety protocols and a three-month-plus delay.
The 30th Animafest Zagreb hosted its award ceremony on Saturday, wrapping up an event that encompassed more than 300 films over six days. The grand prize for a short film went to Just a Guy (image at top) by the Japanese-born, German-based animator Shoko Hara. The animated documentary, which was produced by Studio Seufz, revolves around women who formed intimate relationships with serial murderer and rapist Richard Ramirez.
A statement from the jury explained their choice: “The Grand Prix goes to a film that treats the subject with a sensitivity that leaves no judgement of right or wrong. This left the jury mystified about why women would be fascinated with having a relationship with a serial killer on a death row. Is there someone who can, or should, or must not be loved?”
The Golden Zagreb Award for creativity and innovative artistic achievement went to Freeze Frame, an enigmatic stop-motion film by Soetkin Verstegen that alludes to the ice harvest. The short, which was produced by Akademie Schloss Solitude, has already picked up a number of prizes and recognitions, including at Annecy, Ann Arbor, and Clermont-Ferrand. The jury desribed it as “a beautiful tribute to the origins of filmmaking.”
Nadja Andrasev’s Symbiosis, a wordless, elliptical portrait of an unraveling relationship (and a favorite of ours at Cartoon Brew), picked up the Zlatko Grgić Award for best first film made outside of an education institution. It’s produced by France’s Miyu Productions and Hungary’s Salto Films. Arka, directed by Natko Stipaničev and produced by Kreativni Sindikat, was named best Croatian film.
The Dušan Vukotić Award for best student film went to the Russian film Naked by Kirill Khachaturov, which was made at Moscow School of New Cinema (which also won the equivalent prize at Ottawa Int’l Animation Festival this weekend). Theodore Ushev’s The Physics of Sorrow, whose bag of awards includes the Cristal at Annecy, took home the audience prize — a remarkable achievement for a half-hour experimental meditation on time, memory, and migration.
The short film jury consisted of Clémence Bragard, Réka Bucsi, Nancy Denney-Phelps, Vladislav Knežević, and Martina Scarpelli. The student and Croatian film competitions were judged by Laurent Crouzeix, Hefang Wei, and Mladen Đukić. The winners in the children’s film competition were chosen by Una Patafta, Maris Popović, Din Hodžović, Simon Varošanec, and Ruta Pašalić. The feature film competition was not held this year.
Next year’s edition of Animafest Zagreb will be held on June 7–12, 2021. Here is the full list of this year’s winners:
Just a Guy by Shoko Hara (Germany)
GOLDEN ZAGREB AWARD FOR CREATIVITY AND INNOVATIVE ARTISTIC ACHIEVEMENT
Freeze Frame by Soetkin Verstegen (Belgium/Germany)
ZLATKO GRGIC AWARD FOR BEST FIRST FILM MADE OUTSIDE AN EDUCATION INSTITUTION
Symbiosis by Nadja Andrasev, France/Hungary
From jury member Clémence Bragard: How to Disappear by Robin Klengel, Leonhard Müllner, and Michael Stumpf (Austria)
From jury member Réka Bucsi: My Exercise by Atsushi Wada (Japan)
From jury member Nancy Denney-Phelps: The Physics of Sorrow by Theodore Ushev (Canada)
From jury member Vladislav Knežević: Pulsión by Pedro Casavecchia (Argentina/France)
From jury member Martina Scarpelli: Betty by Will Anderson (U.K.)
DUSAN VUKOTIC AWARD FOR BEST STUDENT FILM
Naked by Kirill Khachaturov (Moscow School of New Cinema, Russia)
Pearl Diver by Margrethe Danielsen (Norway, Volda University College)
Airhead! by Gaspar Chabaud (Belgium, La Cambre)
Survival HK by Louise Pau (Hong Kong/U.S., Calarts)
BEST CROATIAN FILM
Arka by Natko Stipaničev (Croatia)
All Those Sensations in my Belly by Marko Dješka (Croatia/Portugal)