7 Animation Shorts Premiering at Animafest Zagreb 2024: The Directors Talk

Collage of animation stills from Animafest Zagreb 2024 participating films

A lot of effort and a lot of planning goes into making an animation short, so a theatrical (festival) release needs to be a joy. Checking into Animafest Zagreb's selection of animation shorts, we isolated 7 animation shorts that will have their world premiere at the Croatian festival.

They are from experimental to political and from documentaries to personal relationships. Before watching them at the festival, we decided to give the mike to the 9 directors (two of the films are co-directed) to tell us a little bit of why they made those films.

Here's what they replied:

 Contradiction of Emptiness, Irina Rubina (Germany / 2024)

Synopsis: The language in which lullabies were sung to me kills. And I am with it. And the lullabies fall silent. An inner monologue between two languages and identities. Between the black and white of the pinscreen ‘L’Alpine’.

Director's Statement: The German philosopher Theodor Adorno said: "It is barbaric to write poems after Auschwitz”.
So what does this sentence from Adorno mean for me personally, in 2024, while russia* is firing hundreds of rockets to kill Ukrainians, while russia* has already deported thousands of Ukrainian children and is trying to erase their real identities, while russians* commit terrible atrocities in the occupied territories?

All artistic and historical reflections have not been able to prevent this war.

The reason for dealing with my ‘Contradiction of Emptiness’ is the hope that this intimate cinematographic scream can encourage someone to take the step from reflection to action outside the cinema. Otherwise, this film will remain a barbaric poem…

*The country name Russia is deliberately lowercase in the text to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.

On Hold by Delia Hess (Switzerland, 2024) 

Synopsis: A young woman is stuck in the hold queue of a telephone hotline. A surreal episodic short film about the absurdities of urban life and the frustration of a paralyzing standstill

Director's Statement: 'On Hold' is a very personal film to me. The idea traces back to a difficult phase in my life. Back then, I felt like losing control and slipping slowly into a depressive condition, without being able to do something against it. The world around me seemed to darken and life seemed more and more surreal to me. I lost my energy and motivation. These feelings of overload and helpless stagnation I wanted to catch in my film since I have the impression, that I'm not the only one struggling with these kinds of mental conditions.

Percebes by Alexandra Ramires, Laura Gonçalves (Portugal, France / 2024)

Synopsis: With the sea and the urban Algarve as a background, we follow a complete cycle of the life of a special shellfish called PERCEBES, a goose barnacle. From their formation to the dish, in this journey, we cross different contexts that allow us to better understand this region and those who live there.

Directors' Statement: This film was made out of the desire to show an Algarve (a region in the south of Portugal) with its own voice that wants to look at another side of the tourist postcard: the side of those who live there all year round. A compliment to the people, the sea and its fauna, who are resisting the violent transformations of tourism.

Reborn with You, Inju Park (South Korea, 2024)

Synopsis:  The speaker who was watching the death of a woman on TV decides to be reborn with her remains. 

Director's Statement: The day I learned about the hijab protests in Iran on TV news, I immediately thought of the incident of a woman's murder in Gangnam, South Korea, and the subsequent protests by women in my own country, which also led to a feminist movement involving cutting hair. 

The process of the world coming together under one value to create a unified wave is remarkable. Witnessing many women around the world cutting their hair in solidarity with Iran, I too wanted to send a message of fervent solidarity from a distant country and join that wave.

The Route, Babak Beigi (Iran, 2024) 

Synopsis: In the heart of a bleak and desolate world, a truck driver grapples with a terrifying duty—transporting victims to the firing squad. Initially, he copes by suppressing his inner distress, deliberately ignoring the grim sights and haunting sounds around him. However, fate takes a macabre turn one fateful night, compelling him to confront the horrifying reality of an impending execution.

Director's Statement: As a filmmaker, I strive to draw inspiration from movies and paintings and reference them in my works. "The Route" is a journey to a desolate world, timeless and placeless, inspired by movies such as ‘Cold War,’ ‘Son of Saul,’ ‘Schindler’s List,’ ‘Full Metal Jacket,’ ‘1917’, and paintings like ‘The Third of May 1808,’ ‘Hunters in Snow,’ and ‘A Cart of the Snowy Road at Honfleur.’

Uncles and I by Klaus Hoefs (Germany, 2024)

Synopsis: A summer unfolds on Onkel's fields, marked by forbidden cigarettes and hidden lakes. In contrast, life on the farm is defined by confinement and intricate alliances. Amidst Onkel's changing household, technological interventions clash with the preservation of traditional badger hunts. In the farmhouse kitchen, the scents of soap, charred chops, and overripe apples blend with the hum of the microwave. A surreal initiation into hunting follows, where the protagonist, clad in comical coal boots, feels a magnetic pull toward the vast, open unknown

Director's Statement: As an adolescent boy, I spent my days on a farm, surrounded by gentle hills and vast fields. The old farmers, led by my uncle, were my teachers and guides. But with each day, the longing for independence and the fear of letting go grew within me. The thought of leaving the farm and exploring the world beyond filled me with a mixture of excitement and fear. Over time, I learned to overcome my fears and find the courage to forge my own path, but the memories of my time on the farm will always hold a special place in my heart.

Žarko, You Will Spoil the Child by Veljko Popović, Milivoj Popović (Croatia, 2024)

Synopsis: This animated documentary recounts the memories of a childhood in Split in the 1980s. These are stories retold after Sunday lunch when everyone is in a good mood, stories filled with emotions we can easily relate to. But above all, the film is a moving tribute to the love of a grandpa and grandma who did their best to keep their granddaughter smiling.

Directors' Statement: The 80ties in Yugoslavia  were a  time of shared experiences. 
We all had the same furniture, and our fathers rode the same cars, all manufactured by our countrymen. 
We all shared a collective childhood. In her book, which was the basis for the film, Tisja captured the spirit and emotions of that time, which is forever lost, left on the banks of the river of progress. 
We wanted to be a part of that little historical document and etch our names in it. 
This animated film is a documentary and a personal life story of one girl, town, and country.

The World Festival of Animated Film – Animafest Zagreb takes place in Zagreb, 3-8 June 2024.

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