Slovakia commemorates two important historic anniversaries this year: one-hundred years since an independent Czechoslovakia was established and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of Slovakia. So the Fest Anča International Animation Festival will focus on 25 years of Slovak animation, and the 100 Years of Czechoslovakia section will present films that reflect the joint history of Czechoslovakia.
Although animation tends to shy away from showing reality in a documentary style and seldom reflects actual historical events, some films directly or indirectly confront historical facts. In the 100 Years of Czechoslovakia section – created in cooperation with Czech Anifilm – Fest Anča will screen films to guide you through this eventful century. Whilst not all selected films can be considered cinematographic jewels, most reflect the period better than history textbooks. The selection starts 10 years after the republic was established and ends in the mid-’90s shortly after the Velvet Divorce. Where the section of 100 Years of Czechoslovakia ends, the focus on 25 years of Slovak animation begins.
After the Velvet Revolution in 1989, Czechoslovaks were happy with the change of political regime and consequent new leading figures. But after years being in a social and political vacuum, people were unprepared for a significant change in how films were financially supported. Voucher privatization in the 1990s was the death knell for numerous industries, including Koliba Studios. State-funded film production was left without money and technical background. This also represented a major blow for animation production, which was then on its last legs. Yet thanks to the initiative of Rudolf Urc and František Jurišič, the Animation Studio at the Film and Television Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts was founded in Bratislava in 1993 – which prevented the end of Slovak animation. That turbulent period gave rise to the first post-revolutionary generation of animators, who had proven their abilities during their studies and then moved into animated series production. Some founded their own film studios: Ivana Laučíková’s Feel Me Film, Michal Struss’s Plaftik studio, and Katarína Kerekesová’s Fool Moon production studio.
“The focus will begin with the first post-Velvet Revolution Slovak music video A Ballad of Four Horses produced for the musician Peter Lipa, which was created by the IT company Gratex to showcase their computers’ performance,” said Maroš Brojo, festival artistic director. “The selection also includes a collection of the very first student films created at the Animation Studio. Hence the name: Steps, Leaps, Years… and the Last One Turns off the Light.”
Slovak animation took a confident step forward with In the Box (1999) by Michal Struss which was nominated for a Student Academy Award. The film is about a puppet imprisoned between four walls discovering a ray of light – a simple plot and simple story, yet viewers are completely mesmerised. The same can be said about another Slovak film directed by Peter Košťál, Anatomy of an Idea (2000). The Last Bus (2011) by Ivana Laučíková and Martin Snopek also received international acclaim and won the Grand Prix at the Tampere Film Festival.
The late-1990s saw the first commissioned animated works – especially music videos. Subsequent generations of animators were taught under new conditions by newly-qualified teachers who had recently graduated – a process that served to retain the valuable continuity of animated film. Maroš adds: “Their films – acclaimed and awarded at festivals around the world – prove that the technical skills, thematic maturity and inventiveness of Slovak animators compare favourably even in the international context.”
The selection features films by Katarína Kerekesová, Vanda Raýmanová, Veronika Obertová and Michaela Čopíková, Ivana Laučíková, Andrej Kolenčík, Ivana Šebestová, Dávid Štumpf, Peter Budinský, Matúš Vizár, Veronika Kocourková, Igor Derevenec, Juraj Krumpolec, and others.
The festival is financially supported with public funds from the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and the Slovak Arts Council.