One of Spain’s largest animation festivals, Animac, the International Animated Film Festival of Catalonia, will dedicate its 23rd edition to stop motion with numerous screenings and guest speakers celebrating the technique.

Running February 21 through 24, the festival takes place in the city of Lleida and will feature a masterclass with Aardman Animation co-founder Peter Lord. The British animation legend will also receive the Animac Honorary Award for his 40-year career, accompanied by a ten-session retrospective of Aardman projects.

The recipient of the festival’s Animac 2019 Animation Master Award is Finnish director Katariina Lillqvist, whose short films use stop motion to address historical issues pertinent to European society. Lillqvist will speak about her upcoming feature, Master and Margarita, and a retrospective of her work will be screened for the first time in Spain.

Other special guests this year include Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski (directors, Madame Tutli-Putli, Higglety Pigglety Pop!), Vernon Chatman (creator, Adult Swim’s The Shivering Truth), Mark Caballero, Seamus Walsh, and Chris Finnegan (co-founders of Screen Novelties and directors of multiple stop-motion Spongebob Squarepants holiday specials), and Mark Osborne (director, Kung Fu Panda, The Little Prince),

Prior to directing feature films, Osborne directed stop motion music videos and shorts, and he also directed the live-action sequences for the Spongebob Squarepants tv series and first feature. In addition to speaking about his own work, Osborne will participate in a tribute to Spongebob creator (and his former Calarts classmate) Stephen Hillenburg, who passed away last November. The tribute, which will take place at the closing ceremony on February 24, will feature a performance by 100 singers from the Orfeó Lleidatà children’s choir, who will perform the main theme from SpongeBob Squarepants.

"Captain Morten and the Spider Queen."
“Captain Morten and the Spider Queen.”

Some other highlights from the festival’s stop-motion programming:

  • A retrospective to stop-motion pioneer Ladislas Starewitch, who will be represented by his granddaughter, Béatrice Martin-Starewitch.
  • Screenings of recent animated features from around the world that showcase the diversity of genres and styles that exist within stop motion. Films include the eerie Chilean work The Wolf House by Cristóbal León and Joaquín Cociña, which explored the horrors of the Pinochet dictatorship; the mid-length work This Magnificent Cake!, directed by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels, set in colonial Africa; and Stanislav Sokolov’s fantastical vision Hoffmaniada, in which German Romantic writer E.T.A. Hoffmann is transported into the world of his own phantasmagorical writings.
  • Other stop-motion features will screen as part of the Petit Animac (Little Animac) section. These are Captain Morten and The Spider Queen, the debut feature film by Estonian director Kaspar Jancis, and Mats Grorud’s The Tower, which tackles the human consequences of conflict in the Middle East from a child’s point of view
  • Petit Animac’s special guest will be Marek Beneš, director and current screenwriter of the Czech stop motion series Pat and Mat, and son of its creator Lubomír Beneš who, together with Vladímir Jiránek, gave life to the characters in 1976.
  • Anna Solanas and Marc Riba (I+G Stop Motion), the Spanish talents that worked on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, and the creators of the TV series El Diario de Bita y Cora, will share the process of creating their films with the public.

For the full program and ticket information, visit the Animac festival website.

(Pictured at top, l to r: “Hoffmaniada,” “The Tower,” “The Wolf House”)

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