An overview of the Czech animation production that will hit festivals and screens during 2019.
Zippy Frames starts its 2019 country news coverage with the Czech Republic. Both CEE Animation and Anifilm festival are the stepping stone and the premiere release respectively for Czech animation professionals, but what happens in between?
One Czech short animated film that made it in 2018 was the lovely Fruits of Clouds by director Kateřina Karhánková (nominated for the Emile European Animation Awards). The film was broadcast by Czech Television before Christmas, and had more than a hundred festival screenings. In the stop-motion department, the 12-minute Charlie the Snowman's Christmas Wedding by Petr Vodička (prod. Anima Studio) was an Czech audience favorite. But check also the animation documentary (and Rotterdam-selected) The Little One by Diana Cam Van Nguyen, the Annecy-selected graduation film After by Matouš Valchář, as well as the LGBT -themed Days Off by Filip Blažek.
In the feature animation department, Martin Hovorka, Chairman of the Association of Czech Animation Film (ASAF, now in its 6th year), has the right to claim that "the feature film category is extremely demanding for the producers", and smooth international co-production is the solution. Still, it seems that Harvey and the Magic Carpet by Rolling Pictures (here's the Czech trailer) was a Czech hit (more than 200,000 spectators), including US festival love. So, without further ado, here's
What To Expect From Czech Animation In 2019:
Trojhlas (The Bird)– dir.: Daria Kashcheeva, Marie Urbánková and Martin Pertlíček (MAUR film)
Now in its final stages of production, student co-production project Trojhlas, is made in parallel at three Czech art schools – the Film Academy of Performing Arts, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design and Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art at the University of West Bohemia. The project is supported by the Czech Film Fund and produced by the MAUR film studio. Its release will be accompanied by an exhibition of puppets and sets used in the film, which was co-financed by crowdfunding.
The World's End (dir. Martin Kukal)
A nearly common shop with a nearly common corpulent saleswoman Karla lies at the end of the world, out of standing in time, beyond genres and universes.
The short grotesque The World's End directed by Martin Kukal, one the promising graduates from the Animation department at Tomas Bata University in Zlín, is going into production at the Zlín-based studio Kouzelná animace.
Fritzi Miraculous Revolutionary Tale (dir. Ralf Kukula and Matthias Bruhn)
Based on Hanna Schott‘s book of the same name and the illustrations of Gerda Raidt, it describes the political events of the autumn of 1989 in Leipzig as seen by ten-year-old protagonist Fritzi. A German film in international co-production (studio MAUR film for the Czech Republic) highlights the political events of autumn 1989 in Leipzig from the first-person point of view of its 12-year-old heroine. Scheduled release: November 2019.
Great Adventures of the Lucky Four (dir. Michal Žabka)
50 years of the Czech comic book Lucky Four by Jaroslav Nemecek, and 4 short films in a feature film package, directed by Michal Žabka. Release: April 2019.
The Impossible Voyage (dir. Noro Držiak)
A minority Czech co-production, director Noro Držiak is preparing a feature film with animated elements on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the death of Rastislav Štefánik. The film deals with the life and tragic death of one of the founders of the Czech countryu. Release: Spring 2019.
TVMiniUni and the Thief of Questions by Jan Jirka
Director and screenwriter Jan Jirka combines puppets, actors and animation.The hybrid film, made entirely in Zlín, builds upon 144 parts of the TvMiniUni programme of Czech TV’s children’s channel ČT: D. Release: Summer 2019
Even Mice Belong in Heaven (dir. Denisa Grimmová and Jan Bubeníček)
Based on the bestselling book Even Mice Belong in Heaven, here combining puppet and computer animation. A film about two mortal enemies - a little mouse Whizzy and Whitebelly the fox, who after an unfortunate accident, meet in animal heaven. Alice Nellis and Richard Malatinski were involved in the screenplay work, produced by Fresh Films and Hausboot Production (a Czech-French-Polish-Slovak co-production). Release date: 2020.
The Crossing by Florence Miailhe
A co-production of Les films de l’Arlequin Balance Film DE, MAUR film and ARTE France, The Crossing by French director Florence Miailhe is an animated feature film following the dramatic journey of two siblings, Kyona and her brother Adriel; running away and being pursued by officials of an unspecified Eastern European country. Oil painting animation, release: spring 2020.
No scheduled release, but still in production the upcoming film Tonda, Slavka & Genius (nutprodukce), by Filip Pošivač awarded by Eurimage for Best Development at the Cinekid festival, and Martina Duda’s Rosa & Dara (Bionaut in co-production with Czech Television) -both supported by the Czech Film Fund.
Check also the 4-country co-production, highly anticipated stop-motion project Of Unwanted Things and People.
Hungry Bear Tales (dir. Alexandra Májová and Kateřina Karhánková)
One of them is big while the other one is tiny. Both are bears and both of them are constantly hungry. It is not only their love of good food that makes them best friends though. The pilot episode of the TV series in development, Blueberry Hunt, was awarded the Golden Slipper for the best animated film at the Zlín Film Festival 2018. Animated TV series for children aged 4-6, 26 x 7min.
The Prague Eallin Studio continues the production of new parts of the 3D Smallest Elephant in the World tale (13 new episodes). At Film Node Zlín, film director Pavel Ondrašík is working on the animated children's series Barney the Piglet. Expected release: 2021.
The Anomalia summer workshops, where filmmakers can develop their animation projects in the presence of US studio professionals (including Disney/Pixar)Last year offered participants a chance to try out a new technique of film animatic development using virtual reality, The Anomalia Incubator to support the development of new project stories and visuals will be held again in Litomyšl in July and August 2019.
And don't forget the Central Eastern European Animation Forum (6-9 May 2019) and Aniflm festival (7-12 May 2019) dates.
Major data and visuals for this report have been provided by the Association of Czech Animation (ASAF). The association aims to bring together Czech producers, independent filmmakers and animation studios, and lay the foundations of a functioning animation industry that will be part of the Czech economy.