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Winners of the 31st World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb 2021

Animafest Zagreb 2021 ended Saturday, June 12 with the award ceremony at the SC Cinema. After more than 350 screened films and numerous accompanying events in the six days of the festival, the most ceremonious moment of announcing the best authors and films has arrived.

The jury of the Grand Competition Short Film, consisting of Nadja Andrasev, Michael Frei, Shoko Hara, Draško Ivezić and Sasha Svirsky, decided to award the Grand Prix to the Taiwanese film Night Bus directed by Joe Hsieh, created in the author’s independent production. The jury’s explanation states that Night Bus is a miraculous journey that captures all the protagonists and the audience. "Some of the jury members would die for this film. So that everyone remains unharmed, we award it the Grand Prix," it is stated in the explanation.

The same jury presented the Golden Zagreb Award for Creativity and Innovative Artistic Achievement to Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis for Maalbeek (France, produced by Films Grand Huit), "for a journey through particles reconstructed with archaeological precision, which does not give comfort to the stratified identity of the main character affected by fear," wrote the jury.

The Zlatko Grgić Award for the best first film made outside an educational institution went to Mahboobeh Kalaee’s Iranian film The Fourth Wall (produced by the Documentary and Experimental Film Center) "for an experimental animation technique that takes us to the mind of the protagonist who interprets family dynamics and social rules like a bird trapped in a windowless room," says the jury.

Jury members also decided to give special mentions. You can read more about that here

According to the decision of the Feature Film Competition jury consisting of Otto Alder, Hrvoje Štefotić and Karin Vandenrydt, the Grand Prix belongs to the Russian film The Nose or the Conspiracy of Mavericks by Andrei Khrzhanovsky, produced by Studio SHAR – a lavish and daring film with a political dimension, which managed to portray the extreme duality of Russian culture. "With recognizable Russian motifs and a widely known absurdist narrative style, this film won us over. It is always important to remember the cruelty of the past and prevent its recurrence. With a strong message and excellent images and sound, this film is a rounded animated masterpiece," it is stated in the explanation.

The same jury awarded its special mention to the Polish film Kill It and Leave This Town by Mariusz Wilczyński (produced by Bombonierka), a touching film that evoked a melancholy world that immediately attracted us. "The story is both very personal and general and shows us extremely creatively and inventively what sadness is, complemented by an incredibly poetic style of animation," said the jury.

The joint jury of the Student Film Competition and the Croatian Film Competition consisting of Denis Alenti, Paula Bristot and Petrit Gora decided to award the Dušan Vukotić Award for the best student film to the Polish film I’m Here by Julia Orlik, made at the Polish School of Film, Television and Theatre in Łódź, to highlight the painful feeling of losing a loved one. The financial prize in the amount of EUR 1000, which belongs to the winner of the Student Film Competition, is awarded by Zagrebačka banka.

According to the decision of the same jury, special mention went to the films Ant Hill by Marek Náprstek (Czech Republic, FAMU) for artistic 2D style and amazing character design and animation and Room With a Sea View by Leonid Shmelkov (Estonia, Estonian Academy of Arts) for a wonderfully unusual and witty depiction of unrequited love.

The Croatian Film Competition winner is Can You See Them? by Bruno Razum, produced by Zagreb Film, for its excellent character and set design, as well as the performance of stop-motion animation. He is also entitled to a financial award in the amount of 1000 euros awarded by the Croatian Film Directors Guild, while a special mention went to Lucija Mrzljak and Morten Tšinakov for The Stork produced by Eesti Joonisfilm for "its humour and rhythm of storytelling."

The winner of the VR Animation Competition was chosen by a jury consisting of Agnė Adomėnė, Mario Kalogjera and Stefan Stratil. The award was given to the Japanese work Otawamure by Yoriko Mizushiri (produced by Kodansha VR Lab, Ltd.) "because it was fun to socialize in this psychedelic world that captivates with clear aesthetics as well as subtle and extremely entertaining parts. The soft and dreamy style of animation is inspired by Japanese pop culture and a beautiful soundtrack. Otawamure is a film of subtle humour that relaxes the mind," the jury said.

The jury, on the other hand, presented a special mention to the Japanese-German-Indonesian project Replacements by Jonathan Hagard (produced by Kampung Ayu, Ossa Film and Suwe Ora Jamu). The main characters in this film are the family home and the passage of time. "As your eyes fly over the details of clear works of art and notice all the interesting elements that make up the private lives of three generations, the uninterrupted urban and demographic change of their neighbourhood brings the story of cultural and political change. This is a unique exploration of 360 technology as a democratic film device that allows the viewer to freely choose the focus and their own perspective on the topic," the jury wrote.

The winners of the Films for Children Competition were chosen by a jury consisting of Flora Bokić, Tara Gladović, Ana Gladović, Luka Križanac and Tia Županić. The jury awarded the main prize to the Spanish film Reflection by Juan Carlos Mostaza (The Cathedral Media Productions S.L.), a film with a very important message, a theme that is very often present in the growing up of children and young people and to which we need to pay more attention. "The consequences that the distorted reflection in the mirror leaves affect our inner world which is the most valuable thing we have. Dear audience, love yourself, your appearance and be proud of yourself and what you have," said the jury.

By the decision of the same jury, special mention in the Children’s Film Competition went to the Danish film BusLine35A (produced by The Animation Workshop), a "film on difficult topics of harassment and insecurity of young people in everyday public space, society’s perspective on this problem and how involved we are intrying to resolve such situations. Maybe we should more often," the jury concluded.

Finally, the Audience Award Mr. M for the film from the Grand Competition Short Film went to The Stork by Lucija Mrzljak and Morten Tšinakov, while the same award for the film from the Grand Competition Feature Film went to the Irish-British-Luxembourg-French film WolfWalkers by Tom Moore and Ross Stewart from Cartoon Saloon and Melusine Productions.

The 32nd World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb will be held from 6 to 11 June 2022. Find more details on the festival's offical site

Cover photographs: award ceremony of the 31st Animafest Zagreb

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