Czech exiles showcased at Anifilm

Photo: CTK

The annual Anifilm festival of animated film kicked off in the South Bohemian town of Třeboň on Tuesday. Over the course of next five days, hundreds of films, film commercials as well as music videos will be screened in numerous venues all over the town. The title of this year’s festival theme is “Where is My Home” and focuses on the work of Czech authors living abroad. The tradition of animation showcases in Třeboň started back in 2002, with the foundation of Anifest, which was later incorporated into Anifilm. Over the years the festival evolved into one of the top ten events of its kind in the world.

Photo: CTK
The main topic of this year’s Anifilm, Kde domov můj, or Where is My Home, refers to the title of the Czech national anthem. Pavel Horáček, the head of the programme, says the choice was not supposed to be just a reaction to the current migration crisis but a broader reflection of searching for one’s roots:

“The section focuses on the lives of the main guests, mainly Czech expatriates, who have the experience of leaving their country and living abroad. We have been trying to invite them to the festival for several years and we are glad that we have finally succeeded.”

The Czech “footprints” in the world are represented for instance by Jan Pinkava, Czech graphic artist and director who left Czechoslovakia with his parents in the late 1960s and now works for the Pixar studio, Vera Neubauer, who was born and studied in Prague, or Zlín-native Jakub Pistecký, who emigrated to Canada with his family.

Jan Pinkava,  photo: archive of Anifilm
Among the novelties of this year’s programme is a showcase of contemporary Czech animation in a new section called Czech Horizons. According to Pavel Horáček the new showcase reacts to the increased number of high-quality new Czech films:

“There are two blocks, one intended for children and one for adults, and with this new category we have also introduced the Audience award where people can vote for the best Czech film of the festival, screened in these two sections and in the competition sections. There are many films from FAMU, but also films by more experienced authors such as Jan Zach or Kristina Dufková.”

Among the highlights of this year’s programme is definitely Charlie Kaufman’s excursion to the world of animation “Anomalisa”, which is included in the main competition as well as the music video competition, including music videos by Keith Richards, The Prodigy, or David Gilmour. I asked Pavel Horáček, the head of the programme, for his personal recommendation:

Photo: AR&T,  Inc.
“This year we have a special premiere of Paul and Sandra Fierlinger’s new feature film ‘Slocum at Sea at Himself’, a two hour feature about the sailor Johsua Slocum, who was the first man who sailed around the world on his own. And there is also a restored version of the famous puppet film Špalíček: Czech year by Jiří Trnka, which was restored by the National Film Archive.”