Anifilm Festival 2024 (Beyond Competition): Manipulated Puppets, Industry Programme

Anifilm Festival collage of animation films

More things meet the eye in this year's Anifilm Festival programme (7-12 May, Liberec, Czech Republic); a focus on manipulated puppets, a rich industry programme, with the likes of Hugh Welchman (The Peasants), Emma De Swaef (Oh, Willy....) and Steven Woloshen, and around the clock festival activities.

We've already mentioned the delights of this year's Anifilm competition; we here complement the juries responsible for the festival evaluation work.

Jury of the short and student films competition:
Georgian producer and director Mariam Kandelaki, German festival curator André Eckardt and Belgian director Emma de Swaef

Jury of the feature film competition
Milorad Krstić, Slovenian-Hungarian artist and director of 'Ruben Brandt, Collector', Hugh Welchman, British co-director of 'Loving Vincent' and 'The Peasants', and Czech producer Alena Vandasová of MAUR Film (Daughter, Electra).  

Jury for the best abstract and non-narrative titles, music videos, and VR projects
Canadian experimenter Steven Woloshen, known for his films made using direct animation, Wiola Sowa, Polish filmmaker and pedagogue, and Jan Brukner, Czech VR specialist and art director.
 Jury for Games Competition
 Eva Marková, animator, illustrator, and game developer, Vojtěch Buchta, 3D graphic motion designer, pedagogue, and game developer, and Onat Hekimoğlu, Cologne-based game developer and music composer

Theme: Fine-Art-Animation

The programme asks questions about what fine art gives to animation and how animation can enrich works of art and add an extra dimension and looks for answers in the work of acclaimed animators such as Paul Grimault, Jean-Francois Laguionie, Joanna Quinn, Georges Schwizgebel, Theodore Ushev, Yuri Norstein, Norman McLaren, Paul Bush and many more. The theme will naturally explore the phenomenon of Czech collage animation, and oil painting animation and introduce unexpected graphic designers in Czech animation (Kamil Lhoták, Kája Saudek, and Adolf Hoffmeister). The Liberec Regional Gallery will host a thematic exhibition of Slovenian-Hungarian artist Milorad Krstić (Ruben Brandt, Collector). 

Affairs of the Art by Joanna Quinn is one of the films screened at Anifilm's focus programme

Theme: Manipulated Puppets

This year's other main programme focuses on manipulated puppets (non-animated puppet films); the Anifilm festival devotes a whole section to those films close to live-action filmmaking.  The programme will pay tribute to Gerry and Sylvia Anderson: in addition to a lecture by Scottish expert Ben Page, screenings from 'Stingray', 'Thunderbirds' and 'Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons' series will be presented.

Manipulated puppets will also be the main focus of two programme blocks of Czech and foreign short films and one block of films made by the Dresden-based studio DEFA.

Other highlights:

  • 8 films of 'Team America: World Police'
  • World premiere of 'Rally Televize Estráda'
  • Scandinavian 'Strings'
  • Jim Henson's 'Dark Crystal'. His long-term collaborator Bonnie Erickson will hold a lecture about the history of the Muppets. 

The programme is complemented by an exhibition titled Beyond the Boundaries of Animation: Manipulated Puppets in Czech Filmmaking (more info)

Thunderbirds vs. Mysterons

A premiere of Radek Beran’s 'Big Man' will take place during the festival (the film will hit Czech cinemas this fall), a sequel to Beran’s 2015 film 'Little Man'. Both films are typical representatives of this style.


  • Director Hugh Welchman will talk about the making of the films 'Loving Vincent' and 'The Peasants'
  • Canadian filmmaker Steven Woloshen will introduce the technique of cameraless animation
  • Belgian director Emma de Swaef will present her acclaimed as well as less-known films
  • German game designer and developer Onat Hekimoğlu will recount the decade of development of his recently published game Harold Halibut 

Lifetime Achievement Award to Jiří Kubíček (info)

Industry Events

  • Anifilm 2024 will host the CEE Animation Market, a closed-door networking event uniting Czech and foreign producers through their titles in various stages of development.
  • The section Work in Progress will introduce three Czech films in development: 'Babu in the Night City', 'Bob and Bobby on the Trail of the Carrot Eater', and 'Rosa & Dara and Their Great Summer Adventure'.
  • 8 Czech animation projects will be pitched for a grant (total) of 1 million CZK (Grant Supported by PPF)
  • GoCritic! workshop (via the Animation Festival Network) for film journalists and critics. Critic Vladan Petkovic will mentor aspiring journalistts.
  • Students from five schools from five countries of the festival network will participate in a workshop on mental health led by Louise Højgaard Johansen, the founder of Sane Cinema.
  • Game Zone in Chateau Liberec will host a gaming session with students of game development (pLevel) and the MAPA (Massive Anifilm Playtesting Arena) project 
  • FUCKup night 1.0: Several speakers, including the author of this year’s Anifilm visual identity Noemi Valentíny, will talk about the dark/humorous aspects of their work (in collaboration with FAMU and UMPRUM)

Baby In the Night City

A Taste of Anifilm’s Non-Competition Programme

  • Anifilm Festival will once again screen short films nominated for the Oscar.
  • Jurors will present their film collection and be present at many panels and workshops.
  • The festival also carries on with its popular midnight screenings (not suitable for children)
  • Georgian animation will be celebrated in the section 'Eastern Promises' (curator: Mariam Kandelaki)
  • The Liberec Square and other festival venues will host the programme Taking Stock recapitulating last year’s season. 
  • Classics Revived: screening of the Hungarian film 'Heroic Times', winner of the Cristal for the Best Feature at the 1985 Annecy Film Festival, and two Czech films by Jiří Barta – 'The Vanished World of Gloves' and 'The Pied Piper'.
  • 'That’s What She Said:  films made by filmmakers identifying themselves as women as these festivals put great emphasis on the role of women in the animation industry (via the Animation Festival Network) 

Animation Workshop in the Garden Wing of Chateau Liberec and the chateau park are popular workshops where, under the tutelage of experienced animators, (not only) children can create their own animated film using a variety of techniques including cutout animation, hand-drawn animation, computer animation, sand animation, claymation, pixilation, stop-motion animation and this year also site-specific animation. The festival will also offer space to present and play competition and other games in the Game Zone. Other popular programme events include exhibitions, theatre performances, and dubbing studio.

Watch the Anifilm 2024 Trailer

(director: Noemi Valentíny, animator: Filip Diviak, music: Vít Přibyla)

Anifilm International Festival of Animated Films takes place from 7-12 May 2024 in Liberec, Czech Republic. It takes place at Chateau Liberec, Varšava Cinema, Cinema City, Malé divadlo, Naivní divadlo, Pavillion I (at the exhibition grounds), Liebieg Villa, North Bohemian Museum, Grandhotel Zlatý lev, Dr. E. Beneš square and the Liberec Regional Gallery. Check the festival's full schedule.

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