'Chicken for Linda!', 'Siren', 'Sirocco', 'Letter to A Pig' Win at the 15th ReAnimania Festival

ReAnimania 2023 Festival Awards collage

On the 15th anniversary of the ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival of Yerevan  (22-28 October 2023), the spirit and vibrant colors of animated film art reigned in Yerevan for a week. The 15th-anniversary festival was dedicated to the 85th anniversary of Armenian Animation and the 100th anniversary of Armenian Cinema.

Starting (22 Oct) with the thought-provoking 'The Siren' animation feature by Sepideh Farsi, and ending (28 Oct) with an animated short film by displaced Artsakh children (made during a festival workshop), the festival showed its variation of tunes and rhythms.

The French animation feature comedy 'Chicken for Linda' directed by Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta, about a girl and her search for a chicken on a strike day,  won the Best Feature Film award.

Chicken for Linda!

'The Siren' by Sepideh Farsi received the 'Jury Special Mention” award presented by jury member Anush Kocharyan. The French animation film, 'Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds' by Benoît Chieux, was honored with the "Valentin Podpomogov Award" for the best fictional concept of an animated feature film; the award presented by Levon Hovhannisyan, the Deputy Mayor of Yerevan.

ReAnimania (“ReA”) festival featured this year around 300 films, including shorts, feature-length, and graduation films. The program encompassed 7 competition feature films and 3 special screening films in competition. 

In 2006-2007, when the festival was being conceived, I was still uncertain about its name and logo. However, there was one crucial principle in my mind—to choose a name and logo that would resonate with 'Armenia' at first glance. Thus, 'ReAnimania' was born, and for many years, international guests and participants instantly associated it with Armenia.

Yet, this year, in our jubilee edition, after a two-year hiatus, we decided to come back once more, rebranding the festival as 'ReA Festival.' It encapsulates several important contents and concepts: the Republic of Armenia, the Republic of Artsakh, and the Republic of Animation - Vrej Kassouny, festival founder 

In the Shorts Competition, the first award went to 'Letter to a Pig' by Tal Kantor, a compelling story of revenge and redemption. The jury appreciated the creative animation techniques employed in the film. Jalal Maghout's film 'Have a Nice Dog!' received a Jury Special Mention, with an additional special mention for its animation.

Letter to A Pig

The second special mention was given to "Dog-Apartment," by the Estonian Priit Tender. The jury found it surreal yet deeply meaningful. The film 'Back to Rock," directed by Gor Yengoyan, claimed the "Lev Atamanov Prize" for the best Armenian short animated film, commended by the jury for its energy and creativity: “We want to see more of this story. A special mention for the music.” The awards were presented by Joan Gratz and Carlos Leon Sanchez.

'Migrants" was announced as the best complete animated film, directed by Hugo Caby, Antoine Dupriez, Aubin Kubiak, Lucas Lermytte, and Zoé Devise. The Jury Special Prize was awarded to 'The Last Bar', directed by Arne Hain. The prizes were presented by jury member Julia Revolta.

This year, the festival introduced the National Comics Projects Competition, wherein Armenian creators were required to present comic projects with predetermined themes to vie for support prizes for their realization.

The first support prize was awarded to 'Sasuntsi Davit' comics (creative team: Tigran Mangasaryan-painter, Ani Yeghiazaryan-scriptwriter, Mariam Malkhasyan-book designer, Gohar Gasparyan-project director, Narek Van Ashughatoyan-producer).  Gohar Smoyan received the second-place support award for her "Women of Gyumri" comics, attracting the jury with the relevance, the social aspect of the topic, as well as the alternative and creative application of graphic design.

In third place was the comic 'The Guardian of the Misguided', created by Sona Hovhannisyan. The jury supported a project having the courage to speak up on the pressing issue of drug use among young people in Armenian society. The awards were presented by Daniel Danielyan, Deputy Minister of RA MօESCS. 

Mariam Nikolyan's 'The Guardian of Ani' and Gohar Nazaryan's 'The Human Comedy' were awarded a Jury Special Mention. The awards were presented to the devotees of Armenian Animation by Vrej Kassouny, the festival founder. Vrej Kassouny also presented awards to the devotees of Armenian Animation including operator Alisa Kurdiyan, animator-director Stepan Galstyan, animator Vladimir Mayilyan, and puppet animator Gayane Martirosyan. The festival's constant supporter, French producer Jean-Paul Commin, received the Robert Sahakyants award.

The "ReA" festival in Armenia hosted approximately 30 professionals from 40 countries, including leading figures, animators, producers, directors, and other industry experts. The festival featured panel discussions, individual speeches, workshops, and masterclasses led by both international and Armenian professionals, which took place at the TUMO center.

From the Market of Animation to the National Comics Competition: after a hiatus of about two years, the 15th-anniversary edition of "ReAnimania" returned with a rebranding, offering a more comprehensive program, new projects, and initiatives. Notable presenters included painter and director Dave Bossert from Disney, author and lecturer Ed Hooks on acting in animation, director and animator Javier de la Chica discussing AI Animation, Tigran Arakelyan from OnOff Studio, and 3D artist Aghvan Khachatryan from POPOK Studio offering insights into the development of Armenian animation in the global animation landscape. Sean M. Bobbitt, the producer of 'The Peasants' film, and painter Piotr Dominiak presented their films and filmmaking techniques.

Ed Hooks at the 2023 ReAnimania Festival

Another important component of MarAni was the co-production platform, where Armenian creators pitched their projects to international producers, seeking financial support and potential co-production opportunities. The first-place prize went to the 'Winter in March' project presented by Art Step Studio: Producer: Armine Harutyunyan, Director: Natalya Mirzoyan, Prize: 1,000,000 AMD.

The second place was awarded to the 'The Man Who Played Saxophone' project of the Siluete studio, directed by Aram Shahbazyan, with a prize of 100,000 AMD. The project 'Rendezvous', presented by individual producer Silva Khnkanosyan, claimed the third-place spot, earning the author a prize of 400,000 AMD. 'Sevani'  produced by Susanna Khachatryan of OnOff Studio, has emerged as a promising project for international co-production.

The evaluation was conducted by a panel of producers, including Jean-Paul Commin (France), Gorune Aprikian, a writer, director, and French publisher (France), Alain Grandgerard-Baratian, producer of Bright Lights Films (France), Théophile Robert, producer at Sacrebleu Production (France), Olivier Catherin, a French producer, Barbara Vougnon, a Tchack producer (France), Luciano Lepinay, another Tchack producer (France), Matthieu Legeois, also a Tchack producer (France), Juste Michailinaite, a producer from Broom Films (Lithuania), Kestutis Drazdauskas, a producer at Artbox (Lithuania), Catherine Esteves, CEO of Les Films du Poisson (France), and Charlie Sansonetti, a producer.

Winter in March by Natalia Mirzoyan

The festival included  'Retrospective Screenings of Armenian animated films, dedicated this year to 6 influential figures in Armenian Animation. Numerous other significant events took place within the festival's framework. In collaboration with the "Golden Apricot" Yerevan International Film Festival, the ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival of Yerevan placed memorial stars for Lev Atamanov, the founder of Armenian Animation, and the distinguished animator Valentin Podpomogov, in the Avenue of Stars at Charles Aznavour Square. This was commemorated with an official opening ceremony.

On the same day, as part of the festival, OnOff Animation Studio signed a memorandum of cooperation with two international companies simultaneously: Lithuania's Broom Films and French TCHACK, thereby entering the international co-production platform.

'The Peasants' by Dorota Kobiela Welchman and Hugh Welchman, now making its international festival rounds, was the closing film of the festival.

ReAnimania Festival 2023 (c) ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival of Yerevan

The 2024 ReAnimania International Animation Film & Comics Art Festival of Yerevan is scheduled to take place from October 22 to 27 in Yerevan.

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