Central and Eastern Europe’s largest animation pitching and networking event, the CEE Animation Forum, wrapped yesterday in Pilsen, Czech Republic, where 12 prizes were awarded to the most promising projects from across the region.
Over two days, November 8 and 9, 28 projects were pitched in four juried categories: feature films, tv series and specials, short films, and student films. The Forum also hosts a market where artists can arrange one-on-one meetings with potential partners, funding organizations, sales agents, and distributors.
Interestingly, this year’s lineup was extremely balanced regarding intended audience. Eight participating projects were aimed at kids 10 and up, six at teenagers, eight at young adults, and seven at adults. Those numbers reinforce a growing desire in Europe to produce more animation for older audiences.
After this year’s event had wrapped, Marta Jallageas, managing director of the CEE Animation Forum, said:
I am very proud of every team on the stage – from debuting students fearlessly stepping in front of a professional audience for the first time to experienced filmmakers unveiling a multitude of highly ambitious projects. Their creativity and courage defined the essence of our CEE Animation Forum.
This year’s big winner in the feature category was the Greek project Nine Lives Left from director Zacharias Mavroeidis. The feline-focused film unspools as winter turns a tourist village into a ghost town. There, a young female cat and a group of strays attempt to cross the island they call home in search of foster humans. According to the jury:
We feel this story has a lot of potential (at least we are going to discover what cats think of us!). This is more than a coming-of-age story; it’s about what we want for our lives.
The jury’s favorite tv project this year was Rainy Days from Ani Antonova Hristova, which also won direct access to the next Young Horizons Industry in Poland. An Austria-Bulgaria co-production, this series turns on rain sprites who dream of journeying to the Earth’s surface. Of their decision, the jury said:
We decided to give the main Award to Rainy Days for its great potential and unusual main character. We see the project as very original and poetic. We also appreciate the personal aspect since it’s a female family business, artistic cooperation of two generations.
Kata Gugić’s hand-drawn Nightbloom, described simply as “An ode to the night,” was not only the jury’s favorite short film this year, it also won the Ciclic Residency prize. The jury selected the project:
For the quality of the artists’ research, their originality, and their capacity to experiment with narrative through the creation of an entertaining and pop universe.
The CEE Rising Stars winner for a student project went to Estonian Academy of Arts student Milla Bereczki’s Stuck in a Wasp Nest. In the short, a woman on a date discovers she’s not able to overcome her fear of wasps by ignoring it. According to the jury:
Jury members were impressed by the professional presentation and the author’s ability to process a personal trauma with honesty and humor. They were captivated by its original visuals and clear storytelling.
CEE offers a trio of awards that come with access to future high-profile industry events across Europe. Two films, Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz’s Dr. Hawl and Milorad Krstic’s MouMoush will move on to pitch at next year’s Cartoon Movie in France, the aforementioned Rainy Days is off to the next Young Horizons Industry in Poland, and Joachim Hérissé’s tv project Dolls will participate at the next Animarkt Stop Motion Forum in Poland.
Here are all of the projects which won prizes at this year’s CEE Animation Forum
- My Little Heroes, Javier Galán (Spain, Belgium)
Category Feature Films
- Nine Lives Left, Zacharias Mavroeidis (Greece)
Category Series/TV Special
- Winner: Rainy Days, Ani Antonova Hristova (Austria, Bulgaria)
- Special Mention: Dolls, Joachim Hérissé (France)
Category Short Films
- Winner: Nightbloom, Kata Gugić (Croatia)
- Special Mention: Be Still My Heart, Melinda Kádár (Hungary)
Category Rising Stars
- Winner: Stuck in the Wasp Nest, Agnes Milla Bereczki (Estonia)
- Special Mention: It’s (Not) Yours, Santiago Ordoñez (Estonia)
CEE Animation Workshop
- Riamise, Francesco Forti (Italy)
- Nightbloom, Kata Gugić (Croatia)
Cartoon Movie – Direct Access
- Dr. Hawl, Joanna Jasińska-Koronkiewicz (Poland)
- MouMoush – The King of Plastic, Milorad Krstic (Hungary)
Young Horizons Industry – Direct Access
- Rainy Days, Ani Antonova Hristova (Austria, Bulgaria)
Animarkt Stop Motion Forum – Direct Access
- Dolls, Joachim Hérissé (France)