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Lucky 13 Animation Artists Selected for Berlinale Talents 2020

Jonatan Schwenk, Martin Smatana, Shirley Bruno, and Nara Normande
Jonatan Schwenk, Martin Smatana, Shirley Bruno, and Nara Normande

Festivals and Events


Lucky 13 Animation Artists Selected for Berlinale Talents 2020

The new crop of emerging creatives has been announced for Berlinale Talents, and among the 255 selected filmmakers from 86 countries invited to gather Feb. 22-27 in Berlin are 13 artists working in animation. All together, the various directors, producers, performers, writers, composers, etc. will bring along some 40 films in development to finesse in labs and presentations under the banner of this year’s theme, “Collectives.”

“At the Berlinale, we care about films as much as about the collective processes that shape these stories. Our lasting relationships with those behind and in front of the camera is what we wish to express and nurture with Berlinale Talents,” commented Berlinale Artistic Director Carlo Chatrian and Executive Director Mariette Rissenbeek.

Representing the animation sector are:

  • Jonatan Schwenk, director of Sog (winner of the Cristal for Best Graduation Film in Annecy, the European Animation Award at the Encounters Festival, Best Student Film at ITFS Stuttgart, and much more; screened at 124 festivals) as well as sound designer for Räuber und Gendarm, Rules of Play (Germany). Schwenk works as a hybrid filmmaker, often combining stop-motion, 2D and 3D — currently, on his graduation film.
  • Nara Normande, the France-based Brazilian director behind Guaxuma, an intimate anidoc about friendship which combines different animation techniques all connected with sand. Guaxuma screened internationally, winning more than 60 awards including SXSW and Palms Springs. (The film was produced by Justin Pechberty, a Berlinale Talents alumnus, whose credits include Wicked Girl.)
  • Esther Niemeier, German director of the 2D rotoscope animated doc Tracing Addai, about two German adolescents joining the Jihad in Syria, which screened at 70 film festivals and won 20 awards, including Best Short at the Oscar qualifying Docaviv, Best Animation at Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival and was a finalist for the 2018 Student Academy Awards. Niemeier is currently working on a hybrid documentary about her grandmother who was killed in the Third Reich for her outspokenness.
  • Martin Smatana, FAMU graduate and director of the award-winning puppet animation The Kite (including Annecy’s Young Audience Award, Best Short Film for Children at ITFS Stuttgart and Best Children’s Short Film at Anima Mundi) as well as his debut, Rosso Papavero (premiered at Berlinale 2015 Generation Kplus and won 13 international awards). Smatana is currently working on yet another animated short for children, Hello Summer, combing stop-motion object animation and hand-drawn animation, which was selected for the European Further Education Program “Animation Sans Frontiéres”.
  • Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis, whose experimental, hybrid work encompasses films such as the award-winning hybrid doc Swatted about online players and the fear of life-threatening cyber-harassment phenomenon (Special Jury Award in the category “Labo” at Clermont-Ferrand), or Ondes Noires, about three hyper-sensitive people. His editor on both films, Celine Perreard, is also part of Berlinale Talents 2020.
  • Josephine Lohoar Self, a dedicated stop-motion animator, whose film The Fabric of You was nominated for a Scottish BAFTA. Her further credits include Superfrog, a film based on a Murakami story.
  • Shirley Bruno (U.S.), whose An Excavation of Us (2D/3D compositing animation) won her the Off-Limits award in Annecy and an honorable mention at the Prix Ars Electronica among others. Drawing from her Haitian heritage she expresses herself in a unique manner; other films include Tezen and The Things I See.
  • Also on board is Alexandru Petru Bădeliţă, who edited An Excavation of Us and also works as a director, for example on I Made You, I Kill You, an autobiographical anidoc about complicated, violent family dynamics that was screened at IDFA and won several awards for its experimental style.
  • Martin Juza, producer, director and co-founder of animation studio and film production company Krutart. He produced Kosmix, a Czech animated series for kid about a robot and his adventures in space, which will be broadcast in 2020.
  • Sarah D’hanens (Belgium), who produces documentaries as well as animation films such as Jacky de Groen’s Spermaceti (drawing, painting, 2D computer) and Robbe Vervaeke’s Fighting Pablo (oil on glass animation).
  • Thomas Kunstler, Greek clay stop-motion animator and director of shorts Rebetiko and De Les Kouventa currently working on a feature film project.
  • Hannah Dougherty (Australia}), director for anidocs and animated fiction (Theo and Celeste made for TEDX 2018, upcoming web series Broken: A Sockumentary and others).
  • Laura Espinel, Colombian editor and director; her film Kosmiska Katter (Cosmic Cats) (objects, mixed media, collage) screened at a number of festivals, including DOK Leipzig. Espinel is currently developing a film as part of the HERSTORIES seminar in Berlin-Babelsberg.

Now in its 18th edition, Berlinale Talents strives for sustainable promotion and exchange amongst different disciplines across the worlds of film, series, theater, art and industry. The Talents community that has grown from this, which now counts nearly 8,500 alumni (including Chris Hees, who produced BAFTA and Annecy prize-winning short The Bigger Picture), is the Berlinale’s active push toward a diverse and highly-qualified film scene.

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