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The Slovenian festival returns this December loaded with memorable retrospectives, an Italian oeuvre, and guest jury Igor Kovalyov’s masterclass.

Igor Kovalyov will undoubtedly be a distinguishing international presence in the festival; the acclaimed Ukrainian filmmaker and animator will offer a masterclass during the festival, being also part of this year’s jury. His short films Andrei Svislotski, Hen, His Wife, Bird in the Window and Flying Nansen have received numerous awards and accolades throughout the animation and film community. Born in Kiev, Kovalyov was the co-founder of Moscow's legendary Pilot School of Animation. In 1991, Kovalyov accepted an invitation to work at Klasky Csupo's studio in Hollywood. In his time there, he co-directed Klasky Csupo's first feature film, The Rugrats Movie, which Animateka audience will get the chance to watch on the 9th of December. He has also directed the television series, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters as well as episodes of Duckman and Rugrats, commercials and Internet shorts.

The Festival Opening on 4th of December is marked by the screening of the internationally acclaimed Loving Vincent (England/Poland, 2017, 94min) alongside with Mario Torrecillas’ topical short Si No Soy No Puedo Ser (If I Am Not I Cannot Be - Spain, 2017, 10:45) telling the story of 25 Syrian and Kurdish children provisionally established in the Cherso refugee camp, Greece. Two cardboard boxes, pencils, scissors, paper. An animated film, made with cardboard and heart.

563 films were received racing for the competitive final selection; the Competition Programme is split into 3 different sections. The Elephant in Competition will present 31 short animations in the running for the Children Jury Award for the best film, split into 4 different screenings, categorized by age group (from children from 4 years old to young teenagers). Among the selected films, we can highlight Max Mörtl’s and guest jury’s Robert Löbel’s Island (Germany, 2017, 2:30), DOC Leipzig’s best animated documentary winner Mum’s Hair by Maja Arnekleiv (Mammas Hår - Norway, 2016, 5:27) and Kolja Saksida’s festival travelling Koyaa in the Naughty toy car (Slovenia/Croatia, 2017, 2:45). Young audiences will also have the chance to attend an exhibition showing the making-of of the short animated filmWeasel (by Timon Leder).

34 films will be presented in the frame of the Eastern and Central European competition programme, divided into 4 respective screenings. Among them, the touching and hearty Hedgehog’s home by Eva Cvijanović (Ježeva hiša / Ježeva Kuća – Croatia/Canada, 2017, 10:08), also being part of the elephant kids’ competition and Ivana Šebestová’s Yellow (Slovakia, 2017, 6:45).

51 films are competing for EU Young Talents’ programme, containing shorts from internationally acclaimed animation schools, while the Eastern and Central European Panorama will consist of 61 films.

Animateka also showcases an Animated Feature Films section with 9 candidates to choose from: except opening ceremony’s Loving Vincent and the oldie-goldie The Rugrats Movie that we mentioned above, Animateka features a documentary about the eccentric scientist Dr Brinkley (Nuts!), a Chinese gangster black comedy (Have a Nice Day), a colourful story about issues of identity (Window Horses), a minimalist fairy tale for grown-ups (The Girl Without Hands), a delicate tale of life (Louise by the Shore), a comedy that will enthrall youngsters (Zombillenium), also Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming, a feature about building bridges between cultural and generational divides.

2 screenings of Animated Documentaries will also take place, with Mum’s Hair catching attention one more time.

The rich artistic heritage of Italian animation will be brought to life through the Italian Animation Retrospective. In eight sessions, the retrospective brings some of the best Italian animations, from animated gems made back in the 1940’s and world-renowned masters, to emerging talents who promise to shape the future of animation. Bruno Bozzetto’s West and Soda animated feature film (Italy, 1965, 35MM, 86:00) alongside Animazioni Italiane, an exhibition featuring a selection of best contemporary Italian animators, frame this aesthetic trip to Italy. 

The Jury Programme will feature selections of this year’s guest juries: a hypnotic, wild selection by Caroline Sury, a Best of new-born’s ReAnima Festival section by Jair Salvador Alvarez, Rao Heidmets' (animator and chairman of the Estonian Animation’s Union) retrospective titled Half Smiles of the Decomposed – The films of Rao Heidmets, sharing his thoughtful musings about society’s often grotesque make-up. Igor Kovalyov’s retrospective, digging into the art of one of the most outstanding figures of post-Soviet animation. Finally, Robert Löbel’s showcase Films I grew up with, containing films that carved the artist’s new dimension of what animation could be.

The European Animation Schools programme will present a selection of films made by students and alumni in 2007-2016 from Animation Studio at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

AnimatekaPRO festival platform stands out this year. The platform offers a chance to discover the latest in buzzing world of animated cinema through a series of talks, round-table debates, presentations, and Q&As. For the first time, animators from the countries of the former Yugoslavia will have the opportunity to pitch their works in progress to an international jury. AnimatekaPRO is also part of the CEE Animation Workshop, a one-off networking, and training event for the leading animation producers from the region of Central and Eastern Europe. The programme includes: CEE Animation Workshop and AnimatekaPro: Open Panel Case Study, which will cover, in depth, the making of the animated comedy adventure feature film Ooops! Noah Is Gone... from its earliest development stages, through financing and co-production relations to its release and subsequent market impact. It will be presented by Irish producer Moe Honan and Executive Producer Siun Ni Raghallaigh.

Animated series for kids: Good practice example: Koyaa + round-table discussion. Koyaa is a series of short films that has been bringing fun and joy to young people or those young at heart for years. In 2017, six new Koyaa films started touring festivals and other venues worldwide. A masterclass by Eva Cvijanović on Hedgehog's Home. Another masterclass by Nikita Diakur on Ugly (Ugly Aesthetics and Interactive Animation) and a round-table on Animation Made in Italy. Masterclass with guest jury Robert Löbel also distinguishes. Robert Löbel was born in East Germany, GDR, in 1984. Wind, his graduation project, and first solo work won several awards at festivals worldwide (Special Mention (Young Animation) – ITF Stuttgart, Best Student Short – Anima 2014, Grand Prix Europese Studentenfilm – Holland Animation Film Fest 2014 etc.). He also works as freelance animator and illustrator for very important clients and gives animation workshops and lectures for very cute students, freelancers, and kids. Final masterclasses belong to Frédérick Tremblay on Dolls Don't Cry and Igor Kovalyov.

Guest Jury Caroline Sury, also this year's Animateka artist in residence, will present a workshop on making paper cutouts. Caroline Sury (1964, Laval) is a graphic artist, illustrator, comic artist and musician with a degree from L’école des Beaux-Arts, Bordeaux, who also works as editor and producer. Sury will also have an exhibition putting on display the part of her creativity which has recently been the focus of her work: cutouts. The festival trailer is based on her artwork, whose festival poster design was animated by Matej Lavrenčič (animation) and Matjaž Moraus Zdešar (sound)

Animateka, a week-long international festival of animated film, takes place in Ljubljana’s Kinodvor and Slovenska kinoteka from the 4th till the 10th of December. The festival focuses primarily on the latest production of East and Central European short films. European student films and International films for children are also presented in competition programs.