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The 15th MONSTRA festival makes the animation field more European, artistic and varied. Here's a preview of the Lisbon fest, 3-13 March 2016.

The festival's artistic director, Fernando Galrito, clearly expresses its aim: festivals and animation should be on the artistic vanguard, which builds itself not only through the repetition of positive results, but also through their consolidation.

And consolidation comes through numbers. The 15th MONSTRA festival includes 605 films, 238 of which are found in the 6 competitions. And numbers continue: 32 theaters, 61 schools and 12 universities.

 But this is more than the power of quantity. Wandering around the International Shorts Competition (MONSTRA has a SuperShorts competition as well), films like the Annecy-awarded The Master (Riho Unt, Estonia), the César-awarded Sunday Lunch by Céline Devaux and the always audience-favorite My Life with Herman H. Rott (Chintis Lundgren, Estonia) appear.

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The Master, Riho Unt

Short films to be judged by Darko Manesc, Filipe Alçada and Mihai Mitrică.

The feature film competition includes the Oscar-nominated When Marnie Was There, the stop-motion Little From The Fish Shop (Czech director Jan Balej will present the film during MONSTRA 2016), and Miss Hokusai by Keiichi Hara.

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 Miss Hokusai, Keiichi Hara

Feature film jury: Áron Gauder, Andrea Basílio, Nuno Saraiva.

Instead of one invited country, MONSTRA choooses to celebrate and reflect on the former communist countries of Eastern Europe. Croatia, Slovenia,  F.Y.R. Macedonia, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro,  and Bosnia-Herzegovina are all invited to present their recent successes and artistic stamp on animation (165 films in total).

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 Learning to Walk, Borivoj Dovniković-Bordo (1978)

Festivals Anim'est Bucharest , Animateka, Animafest and DOK Leipzig have a MONSTRA tribute as well with contemporary selections.

 Don't miss the masterclasses: from the Portuguese Regina Pessoa (whose film drawings and posters feature in the festival exhibitions as well) to the gury of US independent animation Bill Plympton. MONSTRA also looks at Low-Budget Animation in East-Europe ( Áron Gauder), Freelancing in animation (Filipe Alçada) Sound and Animation (Pierre Yves Drapeau) and Out Of the Fish Tank, a workshop on Expanded Animation by François Chalet.

 Continuing through the vanguard road, the Experimental Animation is devoted to Canadian artist and director Steve Woloshen, who knows how to make a film out of scratches (and has recently published a book on cameraless animation).

Steven Woloshen has his own workshop at MONSTRA 2016. The Little From the Fish Shop exhibition at Museu da Marioneta (5 Feb - 30 April, free entrace) is one of the many MONSTRA exhibitions.

Croatia will have its animation featured with an exhibition entitled  "90 Years of Croatian Comic – Animation". The history and origins of this cinema will thus be approached, utilizing images and illustrations of what was accomplished though its cinematic production. In addition, Croatia will also be featured in the work of invited director Borivoj Dovniković, under the name of " BORDO | Croatian Animation Master", with an exhibition of many illustrations and drawings related to his work.

 Two Portuguese production houses will feature their work at São Jorge, namely, Animanostra and ANIMAIS both celebrating their 25th year, with "Animanostra | 25 years and Animais | 25 years", a showing of a series of shorts which honor their creations in the last quarter of a century, as well as an exhibit of a set of posters marking their work (Cinema São Jorge).

 The 15th MONSTRA festival takes place 3-13 March 2016 in Lisbon, Portugal.