Fest Anča’s 2022 focus: Women in Animation

    Fest Anča International Animation Festival was one of the few festivals that took place during the pandemic, and this year it returns vibrant and live in Žilina from 30 June to 3 July 2022. Attendees can look forward to a selection of the best animated films and a great programme focused around WOMEN IN ANIMATION. Fest Anča will screen the cult Japanese animation Belladonna of Sadness, and pay tribute to Jaroslava Havettová - the First Lady of Slovak Animation. Our 15th edition also focuses on three distinctive generations of Slovak female animators.

    A Bigger and Brighter Festival!

    Fest Anča 2022 will showcase lots of new features!  The Student Forum (27 June to 3 July) will create space for discussion between schools and students from Central and Eastern Europe and schools from Western Europe. "We aim to create a platform where European animation schools can meet and discuss animation education, with a positive impact on educating and supporting future creators," say festival director Ivana Sujová and executive director Nina De Gelder.

    The festival will grow both in length and space. The well-known Žilina-Záriečie Station and the New Synagogue will be complemented by a programme at Žilina Town Theatre, as well as the popular Žilina Puppet Theatre and Artforum bookshop.

    Another expansion is virtual. "After our positive experience with the online version of Fest Anča last year, we are again making part of this year's programme available one week after the festival at DAFilms.sk," says Ivana Sujová. Online viewers can enjoy six short animated films focused on Women in Animation, and three short animated films for children. And of course those films will also be screened at the festival live in Žilina, too.

    Female Perspective

    Our thematic focus presents women's view of the world. "Although we would like to think that the situation has changed, we still struggle with prejudice, and gender (in)equality remains a major social issue. Hence this year's Fest Anča is focusing on women (not only) in animation – female authors and heroines, seeing the world from their perspective," says Jakub Spevák, programme dramaturge and Focus curator. He adds that these perspectives disrupt the binary and lead to more fluidity. Perspectives that represent a longing for a world in which women, men, and everyone else live as equals.

    Our film collection explores feminism, patriarchy, and gender, as well as motherhood and physicality. Screenings of films such as My Body Belongs to Me, Somewhere in Between, and Burn, Witch, Burn are accompanied by discussions with those connected with the topic, such as Katarína Nádaská and Lotta Love.

    The Women in Animation theme would not be complete without mentioning Slovak female animators. Since 1989 they have spanned three generations, with the most recent still forming. The three film blocks bring prominent female voices of the animation industry that resonate in Slovakia and abroad. The programme also includes a discussion with the creators. Our focus on Slovak female animators includes collaborating with the Slovak Film Institute to christen a DVD that includes the film work of Slovak animation icon Jaroslava Havettová.

    This year's visuals follow the Women in Animation theme as well. They were created by four female animators, while graphic designer Marek Menke made the final design for the third consecutive year. The visuals merge the work of animators representing the three generations. The visuals for the first generation were made by Joanna Kożuch, Ové Pictures (Veronika Obertová and Michaela Čopíková) the second generation, and Michaela Mihályi the last.

    Women in Feature Films

    The selected feature films will portray women in cinematography. The most iconic film is undoubtedly the gem of 20th-century animation – Belladonna of Sadness (1973) by Japanese director Eiichi Yamamoto. An avant-garde psychedelic film that combines Gustav Klimt's eroticism, the story of Joan of Arc, medieval tarot cards, and flowing watercolours. Sébastien Laudenbach will introduce his take on a lesser-known fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm in his debut 2016 feature film The Girl Without Hands. This minimalist and impressionistic animation tells the story of a miller's daughter who is tested by adversity.

    The male point of view is replaced by the female one in My Sunny Maad (2021) by award-winning Czech director Michaela Pavlátová. The film portrays the living conditions of women in Afghanistan, and by setting the story in post-Taliban Kabul it also touches on war, which is unfortunately all-too relevant today. The film earned Pavlátová the award for Best Animated Feature at Annecy and a Golden Globe nomination.

    Fest Anča would not be complete without a film accompanied by live music: the 1926 animated fairy tale The Adventures of Prince Achmed by German director Lotte Reiniger. Thought to be the oldest animated feature film, Reiniger's silhouette animation is still used and discussed today. This iconic film follows the adventures of Prince Achmed and will be accompanied by Jonatán Pastirčák's (aka Isama Zing) music.

    Children and their parents will also enjoy four family feature films – Even Mice Belong in Heaven, Kvík, Mimi and LizaThe Garden, and Journey to Yourland. The last film is the first feature animation by director Peter Budinský. It tells the story of Riki who embarks into a fantasy world. Visitors can also look forward to a masterclass where filmmakers discuss their productions.

    Slava Ukraini 

    Fest Anča wholly condemns Russia’s aggressive interference in the sovereignty of Ukraine, and expresses its full support for Ukrainian animators and citizens. The festival presented profiles of Ukrainian animators on social media, and their work will also appear in the programme.

    In the main competition, Anna Dudko will present Deep Love about a mermaid who longs for human erotic love, while Mykyta Liskov will present her experimental Imaginary Landscapes.  In the non-competitive World Panorama section, we will show Regular by Nata Metlukh.

    Fest Anča will also present the Ukrainian film series Before War, curated by the Kievan LINOLEUM Festival, which is the biggest showcase of short independent animation in Ukraine. Its director Anastasiya Verlinska will join the jury in the Slovak competition. The accompanying programme will showcase Ukrainian acid/trance/techno DJ and producer Miklei, as well as producer Karaoke Tundra. The Žilina-Záriečie Station will host the Všetko dookola exhibition by Marcel Onisko about current events in Ukraine.

    Official Selection and Jury

    Over 1,250 films from 68 countries have submitted entries to the Fest Anča International Animation Festival competition in 2022,  of which only one sixth made the official selection. "Choosing films was very difficult, so unfortunately many good movies fell short," says Ivana Sujová.

    Last year the decisions were made online, but this year the jury can finally choose the best short animated films and music videos live in Žilina. The jury will comprise leading figures of contemporary animation from Japan, Romania, and Great Britain. Japanese animator Sarina Nihei, author of Polka-Dot Boy which won the Anča Award for the Best Animated Short last year, will decide this year's winner of the Best Student Animated Short. She will be joined by Saša Bach, producer of the two Slovenian animation festivals Animateka and StopTrik, and Mihai Mitrică, current director of Animest, the only animation festival in Romania.

    The winner of the Anča Award for Best Slovak Animated Short will be decided by Czech animator Michaela Pavlátová who has Golden Globe and Oscar nominations; scriptwriter and writer for the renowned independent animation website Zippy Frames Jair Salvador Flores Alvarez, aka Kropka, and Anastasiya Verlinska.

    The following trio will choose the Best Animated Music Video: Michaela Mihályi – animator and co-director of the globally awarded film Sh_t Happens, which won the Anča Award for the Best Slovak Animated Short in 2020, Kate Jessop – award-winning animator who will hold a lecture at Fest Anča called A Guide to Sex in Animation through the Female Lens, and Seafur – the Slovak visual artist, illustrator and occasional performer who will introduce her set that demolishes the concept of guilty pleasures.

    Accompanying programme and kids' stuff 

    As well as animated films, visitors to Fest Anča 2022 can enjoy a quality accompanying programme full of concerts, DJ sets, and discussions about the festival's theme – Women in Animation. Concerts and parties will take place at Žilina-Záriečie Station and the New Synagogue. The festival also includes the Industry Section conference for local professional animators.

    On Thursday, Isama Zing will perform his project Blurry AF – full of a surprising variety of creative approaches and cultural/genre fusion, and you can also meet Ima Teva’s atmospheric musical world – steadfast and resilient yet vulnerable and painfully intimate.

    DJ and musician from Bratislava w y m e will represent the local music scene with her unique electro-hybrid sound, with performances by producer and DJ Sofia Nøt and Czech artist and rapper Arleta too. On Saturday the ambitious music collective Fairycore Syndicate will perform, as well as the Berlin Manson project from Bratislava and Košice.

    This year's kids' programme will take place throughout the festival, but the last 3 July day is specifically dedicated to children and parents. They can look forward to a diverse programme full of family films and international sections of competitive and non-competitive films for children. And the first days of summer will be about more than films! Kids can also enjoy the Ka-Boom! workshop inspired by a TV bedtime story where they can build a volcano, and see the Recept na leva (meaning “Recipe for a Lion”) theatre play by Divadlo Fí.

    About Fest Anča

    Fest Anča International Animation Festival is the only Slovak multimedia festival focused on animated film targeted mainly at a mature audience. It’s annually held at Žilina’s New Synagogue and Stanica Žilina-Záriečie cultural hub. The festival presents contemporary progressive animated films and classic gems of the genre, and aims to raise awareness about animated film as an autonomous art form and to educate about multiple types and aspects of animation.

    The festival includes an international competition of animated short films, music videos, thematic, and focused screening sections. The four days of Fest Anča include presentations, film screenings for children, and numerous accompanying events.

    Fest Anča International Animation Festival 2022 is financially supported by the Slovak Audiovisual Fund and LITA Fund. The event was supported from public funds by the Slovak Arts Council. Women in Animation, Fest Anča’s 2022 thematic focus, is an implementation of the Student Forum Fest Anča. 

    The Student Forum Fest Anča benefits from a EUR 120,609 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through EEA Grants. The project has received co-financing from the State Budget of the Slovak Republic of EUR 18,091. The aim of the project is to work with attendees, promote international mobility and cooperation between European schools, share knowledge and skills, and compare animation teaching methods across Europe.