Dogs, Cats, Spiders & Cake!: Animafest Names 8 Features in Competition

Isle of Dogs
Isle of Dogs

More details from the organizers of the World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb 2018 today. Read on for a closer look at the eight feature film titles representing a global diversity of stories and techniques from Italy, Belgium, France, South Korea, Taiwan, China, Estonia and the US which will screen at the summer event (June 4-9).

Festival passes and more information available at www.animafest.hr.

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs

Of interest not only to animation aficionados, but to fans of film in general, as well as dog lovers, is Isle of Dogs by famed American director Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel). Taking place in a dystopian future Japan, this stop-motion film follows a boy who sets off in search of his dog after the entire species is exiled to an island garbage dump. The voice cast includes Edward Norton, Bryan Cranston, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton and Yoko Ono. Isle of Dogs has already been awarded at the Berlin International Film Festival, where it premiered as the opening film.

A Dog's Life

A Dog’s Life

Anderson’s warmly received return to animation is not the only film about dogs in the Animafest feature film competition. In the mix is the anthology film A Dog’s Life by Chang Yi, one of the leading figures of the Taiwanese new wave cinema. It is a touching tribute to man’s faithful companion, comprised of four poignant, sometimes bittersweet stories rendered in distinct styles.

Cinderella the Cat

Cinderella the Cat

Italian directorial quartet Alessandro Rak, Ivan Cappiello, Marino Guarnieri and Dario Sansone are arriving in Zagreb with Cinderella the Cat, a completely modernized version of the classic fairytale, dressed up as a dystopian sci-fi with a combination of traditional and computer techniques, musical numbers and lavish lighting. The film is set on a futuristic ship trapped in a Naples harbor and haunted by holograms of the forgotten past, while the story follows the daughter of a late scientist, who is left at the mercy of her stepmother, sisters, and a Mafia boss.

This Magnificent Cake

This Magnificent Cake

For animation connoisseurs, one of the most eagerly awaited screenings will be This Magnificent Cake! by Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels. De Swaef and Roels are the creators of the Animafest Grand Prix and Cartoon d’Or winner, Oh Willy…, and return to Zagreb with a feature film made in the same felt puppet stop-motion technique. The Animafest screening swiftly follows the film’s world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales

Those who enjoyed the charming adventures of Ernest & Celestine won’t want to miss the new film by Benjamin Renner, The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales. It is an anthology film based on the director’s own illustrated books, with a nod to the Old French stories of Le Roman de Renart. Once again, Renner successfully creates an impression of watercolor illustrations in motion, this time with much more gags and humor, but packing an equally emotional punch.

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

Captain Morten and the Spider Queen

Another stop-motion title in the competition is Captain Morten and the Spider Queen by author Kaspar Jancis, Henry Nicholson and Riho Unt, which will have its world premiere at Animafest. The choice of technique is not surprising, given that Unt – a leading figure of Estonian animation, next to the legendary Priit and Olga Pärn – is the master of this approach and a long-time collaborator of Nukufilm, one of the oldest and most acclaimed stop-motion studios, founded in 1957. This coming-of-age adventure follows an eight-year-old boy who is magically shrunken down to the size of an insect and must steer his favorite toy boat through a perilous adventure. Unt is entered in the shorts contest as well, with his film about a creative nun: Mary and 7 Dwarfs.

The Man-Woman Case

The Man-Woman Case

The Man-Woman Case by Joëlle Oosterlinck and Anaïs Caura is on the other end of the genre spectrum. It is a French biographical crime mini-series (recut into a feature) about Eugene Falleni – a transgender man convicted of murdering his wife in early 20th century Australia – and his earlier life marked by violence and the search for identity. Made in traditional, mostly black-and-white techniques combined with rotoscoping and some color, the series won the Jury Award in Annecy

The Shower

The Shower

Finally, Korean director Jae-huun Ahn’s nostalgic The Shower focuses on the friendship and innocent love between a girl and a boy in the countryside. Animated in 2D with a spectacular color palette, the film is an adaptation of a beloved and influential Korean 1959 novella which left a lasting mark on Korean cinema as well. This melancholy coming-of-age piece doesn’t only offer insight into the poetics of the director – relying on traditional techniques and known for visually attractive films Green Days and The Road Called Life – but into the artistic sensibilities of the country itself.