The new edition of the KLIK! Animation Festival begins in Amsterdam tomorrow and continues through Sunday, November 9th. Every year the festival selects an expansive main theme—I co-organized last year’s which was Cartoon Modern—and the 2014 theme is “Boys, Girls & Beyond!” which examines both traditional and non-traditional representations of gender in animated filmmaking.

The film programs in “Boys, Girls & Beyond!” include:

  • It’s a Gender Thing: Identity can be an ongoing struggle. What if you’re a dog, but you feel like a cat inside? Or how to resolve an internal conflict between your inner hooligan and your sensitive gay side? And just how do the Disney princesses cope with the gender norms they were drawn with? Our filmmakers want to share their identity issues with you in this animated shorts program. Often through humor, but sometimes also through painful and honest accounts of personal experiences.
  • Happy to be a Cliché: Slowly but surely, the gender spectrum is expanding. Drag queens and tomboys are becoming widely accepted, so perhaps we can now even enjoy the other extremes, those of manly men or girly girls, for what they are. This program takes you to that familiar place where wild men spend their days chasing ladies, growing their beards, and talking dirty. A place where women gossip, dress up, and shop ad infinitum. Embrace the cliché!
  • Love is…: Ah, l’amour… As difficult as it may be sometimes, it’s also the greatest feeling ever. As to be loved is to be accepted completely for who you are — whether you’re a panda bear, a robot, or a samosa. True love knows no boundaries. This selection of films uncovers the beauty of love in all its forms and shapes. When you’re starting to feel the love, just ask, the KLIK! visitor next to you might need a hug too.
  • Ladies’ Night: What happens when women unleash their sexual thoughts and fantasies on film? Girlfriends enjoying an exciting night out, sexual fantasies of a female tram driver, a voracious vagina that cannot be silenced… Expect some bold no-nonsense statements by confident female animation directors from all around the world. Celebrate female sexuality with girlfriends enjoying an exciting night out, the sexual fantasies of a female tram driver, or a voracious vagina that cannot be silenced. Award-winning directors Michaela Pavlatova (Tram) and Monique Renault (A la votre, Long Live the Sexual Revolution!) join in for a Q&A moderated by DIEP Festival’s director Marije Janssen.
  • Terribly Inappropriate and Uncomfortable Genderfucking Animation: Time to loosen up! All gender issues aside, let’s not take things too seriously and join us for this midnight program. You may be disturbed, you may feel awkward, you may even be disgusted. In any case, this set of films is sure to leave its mark on you for quite some time. Get ready for farting chicks, endless dicks, pubic bushes, and menstrual lollipops – nothing is too NSFW for you.

Numerous other programs are tied into the gender theme of this year’s event, including a series of fascinating-sounding scholarly dicussions. Beyond that, there’s dozens of other screenings and events, including a full slate of competition screenings, panels on the making of Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea and Disney’s short Feast, and a retrospective of the films of Michaela Pavlátová. The entire program can be found on their website.

If you’re anywhere near Amsterdam, I highly recommend checking out KLIK. For starters, it takes place in the futuristic-designed yet super-functional EYE Film Institute, which just might rank as my favorite venue for holding an animation festival.

More than that, KLIK’s a kooky and fun event. I have no idea what they’ve got planned this year, but if it’s anything like last year, expect lots of opportunities for creative expression like sock puppet parties and cut-out films made in group workshops.

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