Anifilm 2024: Selection Highlights from the Czech Animation Festival

Noone feature animation by Simone Massi still

Armed with a visual identity 'dedicated to the Creative Hands of Animators' and designed by Noemi Valentini, Anifilm Festival (7-12 May 2024, Liberec, Czech Republic) continues its yearly order in the animated landscape, bringing the best in international and Czech animation and games to professionals and audiences alike.

10 Animation Feature Films Selected

The films in this category compete for two awards (Best Film for Adults and Best Film for Children). The competing films are traditionally diverse both in terms of artistic styles and animation techniques. Strong representation of French animation, this year with 'Chicken for Linda' (dir. Chiara Malta, Sébastien Laudenbach) and a Miyazaki hommage with  'Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds' (dir. Benoît Chieux).

Italian auteur Simone Massi comes with 'Nowhere', a debut feature that premiered at Venice Film Festival 2023.  Czech participation (and the only puppet film in competition): ' Tony, Shelley and the Magic Light' by Filip Pošivač. North American participation is strong this year,  with Bill Plympton's latest 'Slide', the American indie film 'Unicorn Boy', and the Canadian animation feature 'When Adam Changes' (dir. Joël Vaudreuil).

The full Anifilm 2024 animation feature lineup:

Chicken for Linda!, Sébastien Laudenbach, Chiara Malta / France, Italy
Kensuke’s Kingdom, Neil Boyle, Kirk Hendry / United Kingdom, Luxembourg, France
Nowhere, Simone Massi / Italy, Switzerland
Robot Dreams, Pablo Berger / Spain, France
Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds,   Benoît Chieux / Belgium, France
Slide, Bill Plympton / United States
Tender Metalheads. Juanjo Sáez , Joan Tomàs , Carlos Pérez-Reche /  Spain
Tony, Shelly and the Magic Light, Filip Pošivač / Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary
Unicorn Boy, Matt Kiel    / United States
When Adam Changes, Joël Vaudreuil / Canada

Chicken for Linda!

26 Student and 28 Short Films in Competition

Anifilm will present new films by renowned artists such as Nina Gantz, Kaspar Jancis, Tomek Popakul, Georges Schwizgebel, Flóra Anna Buda and Don Hertzfeldt. 

The Competition of Student Films includes 26 films predominantly from Europe, but also from Japan, China and USA. Czech filmmaking is represented by remarkable films made by directors with foreign origins – 'In Between City (Ilya Kreines)' from the Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague, 'Keep Out (Tan-Lui Chan)' from the Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Arts and FAMU’s 'Electra' by Daria Kascheeva.


25 Music Videos

They represent a wide range of genres from classical music to hip hop to punk and there are also humorous and parodic entries. Czech music videos are represented by a gentle music video by Michaela Dušková titled 'A tak to necháme' and obscure 'Lunapark' by Matej Mihályi.

 22 Abstract and Non-narrative Animation Films

Including the Czech film  'Individuality' (Bára Holzknechtová) – an associative study based on a continuous stream of seemingly unrelated photographs – and the ambitious project using artificial intelligence 'Time Metallurgist (Tomáš Rampula) inspired by the life of Eadweard Muybridge.

Time Metallurgist

7+ 5 VR Titles

7 VR works in competition and 5 Panorama Titles and a diverse subject-matter in all of those. Séance with a tea spirit, life with aphasia and a mysterious orchestra hidden behind the ear drum. In addition to interactive 3D films and 360° titles, you can look forward to a project combining 3D, painting, and cutout animation. Anifilm’s VR cinema naturally cannot forget the increasingly popular format of mixed reality.

15 Computer Games In Competition

The competition games were selected by a jury of three experts – independent game designer Jakub Dvorský, game journalist and podcaster Pavel Dobrovský and game designer and educator Martin Vaňo in two categories - Visual Art & Game for Children, in a year with many interesting games.  The final list includes the sequel to the successful turn-based RPG Darkest Dungeon 2, retro-futuristic adaptation of Stanislav Lem’s novel Invincible and a parable of the Babylon Tower – Chants of Senaar.

Czech participation: 'The Last Train Home', a strategy inspired by the story of Czech legionnaires, and 'Bzzzt!', an exquisite pixel art platform game by Czech developer Karel Matějka. 

5+2 Programmes of Czech Horizon Competition Selection

69 Czech films compete for the the Czech Horizon awards; they are programmed in five blocks combining Checz short and student film series, commissioned works and music, plus two extra feature screenings – 'Hungry Bear Tales: To the Pole!' (dir. Kateřina Karhánková and Alexandra Májová) and 'Tony, Shelly and the Magic Light (dir. Filip Pošivač). On top of films, non-narrative animations and music videos from the international competition (e.g. Electra, Keep Out, In Between City, Time Metallurgist), the list of competing films includes also the latest titles by established authors.

Jan Bubeníček comes with the pilot of his first series 'Veggirado', Michal Žabka created the first ever 'Lucky Four' series, Maria Procházková’s educational series will teach us 'What Weather Can Do' and Kristina Dufková’s music video will be hot as Lava.

After a long hiatus, Jan Cechl returns with a short film inspired by the life of Alois Musil (Lawrence of Moravia). Michael Carrington will introduce his sand animation 'Waves'. Also, Jan Míka, last year’s winner of the award for the Best Short Film, returns with his latest title 'Earth Episodes'. The younger generation will be represented by Pavla Baštanová with her film 'About a Cow' (Locarno premiered), and Dita Stuchlíková with her anidoc 'I Would Be a Musician'.

Lawrence of Moravia


The Full Anifilm 2024 Selection

Jiří Kubíček Gets Anifilm Lifetime Achievement Award

This year’s Anifilm recipient of Anifilm’s Lifetime Achievement Award is dramaturge, screenwriter, and pedagogue, Professor Jiří Kubíček. Working in many different positions, Kubíček’s contribution to Czech animation has been immense, yet he still remains largely unknown to the public. There is probably no one with a bigger awareness of Czech animation who was behind so many excellent films by legendary directors and discovered future talents.

In 1973, Kubíček started his career in the Krátký film Studio where he gradually rose to the position of the Chief Dramaturge for Animation. He co-founded the Studio of Animation at FAMU which transformed into an independent department in 1989 and Kubíček served as its head until 2006. For years, he defended animation as a member of the Council of the State Cinematography Fund. He also wrote several papers on animation and a book titled Introduction to Animation Aesthetics.

 Jiří Kubíček will present a selection of his work at Anifilm and talk about his experience in a special interview.

Puppet Exhibition in Liberec: Beyond the Boundaries of Animation

In collaboration with the North Bohemian Museum in Liberec, Anifilm has prepared the exhibition titled Beyond the Boundaries of Animation: Manipulated Puppets in Czech Filmmaking.  For the very first time, this exhibition gives a comprehensive overview of the phenomenon of manipulated puppets in Czech filmmaking from its beginnings to the present day. Visitors will have a chance to see not only puppets, but also decorations, set designs, graphic designs and artworks, sketches and film posters from prominent graphic designers and artists such as Jan Švankmajer, František Antonín Skála, Jakub Dvorský and Bára Čechová.

On display also rare puppets such as Spejbl and Hurvínek, Mephisto, Kasperle, a scene from Švankmajer’s 'The Coffin House', and also 'Czech muppets' Jů and Hele from Studio Kamarád. The core of the exhibition are puppets and scenes from the film 'Little Man' (2015) and 'Big Man' (2024) by director Radek Beran.

Beyond the Boundaries of Animation Exhibition

In addition to the film’s characters, the exhibition includes Tiny’s laboratory, Majolenka’s kiosk, Barnshop and the library interior. The exhibition also includes puppets from the popular film 'Kooky' (2010), as well as the installation by Televize Estráda, a punk group using manipulated puppets.

Info: North Bohemian Museum is open every day except Monday, 10:00-19:00;  open from 14th March to 2nd June. The entrance fee is voluntary

The Visual Identity of Anifilm 2024 

Silesian native animation artist Noemi Valentíny is best known for her disturbing horror 'Raven Mother'. A graduate of the Tomáš Baťa University in Zlín, director, graphic artist, animator, and illustrator has made many films and artworks. In 2021, her film 'Radiotherapy at the Yellow Hill' won the award for the Best Czech Commissioned Work at Anifilm.

'Hands are a basic tool used by a majority of people-artists to materialise visions born in their minds. Hands lead a puppet, hands draw, click a mouse and pluck a string. Hands feel, touch and explore, can scratch, push and grab. And the hands of animators? We see them only rarely. They are usually shy. Ever since the time of the famous first phases found in the Lascaux Cave, hands of animators have often found themselves entangled in the webs of thoughts and ideas somewhere in dark corners. The visual identity of this year’s Anifilm brings an opportunity to bring them into the light.' - Noemi Valentiny

Anifilm International Festival of Animated Films takes place from 7-12 May 2024 in Liberec, Czech Republic.

(cover: 'Nowhere' by Simone Massi)

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