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ANIMEST 2019

Mihai Mitrică • Festival director, Animest

“Diversity has always been one of the focuses of Animest”

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- We chatted with Animest festival director Mihai Mitrică about the 14th edition of the most popular film gathering in Bucharest

Mihai Mitrică  • Festival director, Animest

The Animest International Animation Film Festival (4-13 October) has become the most popular film festival in Bucharest over the course of its 13 previous editions. Its 14th iteration comes with a record-breaking selection, so we asked festival director Mihai Mitrică (his team may know him better as Mitrix) what the secret is behind this growth spurt. Here is what he had to say about the selection, animation in the Romanian film industry and the future of new technologies in the genre.

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Cineuropa: Animest is celebrating its 14th edition with a growth spurt. What caused it? Has this edition set any records?
Mihai Mitrică:
There is a simple reason for that: Animest has grown so much over the last year because there were people who have invested their trust in us and granted us financing. And by this, I mainly mean the Creative Europe programme of the European Union, which included Animest among the festivals it supports every year. As for the records, at this edition, we will screen 30 features and 400 short films, with 150 international guests in attendance.

The Romanian audience very rarely has access to truly innovative or auteur animations, as 99% of the films released in local cinemas are those made purely for profit in Hollywood. Where should the audience look in the Animest selection in order to see how diverse animation techniques are?
Diversity has always been one of the focuses of Animest. By diversity I mean not only the topics that animations may explore in their stories, but also the techniques they use to tell that story. There are so many ways out there to tell the same story. Creativity is of paramount importance. All of our sidebars consist of films made with a wide variety of techniques, and we tend to group the movies by their theme and not by a certain technique.

This edition kicked off with a special screening of Marona’s Fantastic Tale [+see also:
film review
trailer
film profile
]
by Anca Damian, the only animated feature to have been produced in Romania over the last few years, and made with substantial co-production support from abroad. Why do you think Romanian animators don’t get the chance to make more features? Would you say this is an institutional issue?
A Romanian animated feature is always cause for celebration. Over the last 15 years, Anca Damian has been the only one who has managed this on an international level. No funding institution covers the entire budget for a film project, which is very healthy, as it encourages co-productions. In the near future, at least, I doubt animated features will become a constant in Romania, no matter the available funding. On one hand, it is an institutional issue because a strategy dedicated to the genre is practically non-existent. On the other hand, it is a manpower issue. Even if, at present, one can’t do much in animation without computers and special software, the creative team is what counts.

Let’s talk about VR, as 2019 is Animest’s first year featuring a VR competition. Do you think it is the future of animation?
It was indeed a courageous decision to add a VR competition for this edition. VR is a perfect example of diversity: it is a new way, a new method to tell a story. Unfortunately, it has technical shortcomings, and this is why I doubt that, decades from now, we’ll have more VR animations in the selection than we do in 2019. But technology will surely bring surprises in the future. Since 2006, things have changed so much in the way animation is made, and over the last few years, the pace of change has been impressively fast.

Every year, Animest has sidebars or events intended for an adult audience. How naughty is this edition?
Our Trippy Animation Night and Creepy Animation Night thematic evenings will keep up the tradition of offering films one cannot see at other festivals, for various reasons. This year, we are programming a night of erotic animation for the first time, and we are doing this because at this edition, we have the honour of having Sara Koppel – a director and screenwriter of erotic animations par excellence – in attendance as a jury member.

Is there anything you wanted to do at this edition but had to postpone for the next?
We are never lacking in ideas, and jotting down plans is easy, but one cannot make them happen all at once. We left many for the next edition, including some big names in animation that we have been courting for years, waiting for the moment when their schedule matches ours. We have two or three strategic directions for the next few years, but nothing is set in stone yet. One thing I can tell you for sure is that the 2020 edition will be special because Animest will turn 15!

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