This year, the World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb, one of the most important animation festivals in the world, will be held from 3rd to 8th June.

In this article, you can quickly grab the whole picture of the upcoming Animafest Zagreb 2024 from Daniel Šuljić, the artistic director of the festival, for your preparation to get the best out of the festival.

Interview with Daniel Šuljić

Hideki Nagaishi (HN): For people who are thinking of participating in the World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb for the first time, could you please explain the characteristics, meaning, and role of the festival in the global animation industry, in brief?

Daniel Šuljić: Oh, our festival, the World festival of animated film, Animafest Zagreb is truly international and worldwide, a celebration of the art of animation in all its fantastic forms! We want to support artistic animation and we want to show to the world that we are the best of the best, the most talented of the talented and the most innovative of the innovative hard-working artists out there. While some festivals drift more and more towards big-budget feature films targeted at general audiences, we want to stay at the core of innovation, real creativity, and bold experiments. Our main program is the international short film competition, where we screen what we think is contemporary inspiring art, for the pleasure of interested and open international professional and local audiences.

HN: Could you please let us know the highlights of Animafest Zagreb 2024 from your viewpoint?

Daniel Šuljić: As I always mentioning, the absolute highlights of our festival are competitions where we present what we think are the best works from the last 12 months! Apart from already mentioned Grand Competition Short film, there is Student Film competition, Croatian film Competition, Films for Children and Youth Competition and Grand Competition Feature film competitions. I think this year’s very important program is that of lifetime achievement award laureate Phil Mulloy who will be present at the festival, then thematic program which this year is humour in animation, and Czech – who has one of the longest traditions of animation in the world – country focus. And, not to forget, masterclasses, including Malte Stein, Bill Plympton and Naomi van Niekerk, to name a few.

HN: Did you find any trends in the submitted films to the festival this year?

Daniel Šuljić: Visually, some trends are continuing form previous years, like many mixed techniques or 3D films looking like 2D. There was increased number of films which could be characterised as a return to black & white graphic pencil style. Thematically the variety stays, and again the films have all kinds of different approaches – exactly what we like, the diversity. In general, and that is not always positive, short films are becoming longer and longer. This gives some films the time necessary to develop their stories even deeper, but sometimes long short films lose themselves in poetic imagery, beautiful, but losing the focus and tiering the audiences.

HN: Could you please let us know your total impression about the films nominated for each official competition?

Daniel Šuljić: Hard to say! Again, it was an interesting year, with many interesting submissions, and as always, the hardest part is what not to show, what to leave out. I would really like to show double the amount of films that we show because so many are interesting, in one way or another. Before the selection we were wondering what if suddenly AI generated films overwhelm us, but in the end that was not the case, the numbers stayed low.

HN: In addition to the previous question, could you please introduce us the films that particularly impressed you or interested you from the films selected to this year’s competitions, if you have any?

Daniel Šuljić: This is always the hardest question, because its like asking which of your children do you like most. Besides we were three equal persons in every selection, so it’s a team decision. But I can tell you from my personal point of view, as a filmmaker. From international shorts I would say Butterfly by Florence Miailhe from France, Notebook of names by León & Cociña from Chille, Cirlce by Yumi Jung from South Korea and Beautiful Men by Nicolas KEPPENS from Belgium are my personal favourites, from Croatian (and it’s in international section as well) are Žarko, You Will Spoil the Child! By Veljko and Milivoj Popović, from international students’ competition it’s Such Miracles Do Happen by Barbara Rupik from Poland and Tomoya! By Masataka Kihara from Japan and from features Chicken for Linda by Sebastien Laudenbach. But that’s just a small list, personal. So many more fantastic works, much more then there is a place to mention them all.

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