The 20th edition of the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival: Overcoming crises and reason to celebrate

The 20th edition of the Fantoche International Animation Film Festival will run from 6-11 September 2022. Showing a total of 295 short films and feature films, it is looking back over the previous 19 festivals with an inquisitive eye – and a hint of pride. The topic of the anniversary festival is “Overcoming Crisis”, while its geographical focus offers insights into Balkan animation in the present and the past. As always, multimedia works, various workshops and cutting-edge feature films are on the agenda. One highlight is the combined film programme and walk “A Wall is a Screen” on Saturday evening, led by the Hamburg-based collective of the same name. During this event, the animated films will take over every corner of the city of Baden. The heart of Fantoche is and remains its International, Swiss and Kids Film Competitions, with the prize ceremony taking place at TRAFO in Baden from 6 pm onwards on 11 September.

Here’s some of the highlights 

CELEBRATING 20 EDITIONS

Tram, Michaela Pavlátová, CZ 2012

The first Fantoche took place in 1995, organised from a room with two desktop Macs, a phone, a fax machine and 400 rolls of film! To mark its 20th anniversary 27 years later, its four founders (Otto Alder, Frank Braun, Suzanne Buchan and Peter Hossli) and its subsequent directors Duscha Kistler (2006 – 2011) and Annette Schindler (2012 – 2021) have curated a total of four programmes composed of short films featuring unique techniques or impactful narratives from their time at the festival, along with their personal favourites.

The current Fantoche team has picked the Ghibli classic Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, 1997) as their joint favourite, while new director Ivana Kvesić has put together “Ivana’s Choice” to share a small selection of her favourite animated shorts with the Fantoche audience.

FOCUS THE BALKANS

Untravel Ana Nedeljković, Nikola Majdak, RS 2018

The festival’s geographical focus also has a lot to do with the new director’s personal background and experiences of film: “As I’m relatively new to the animated film sector, at Fantoche, I wanted to share the filmmaking that impacted me, my family, and a major proportion of the Swiss population – people with Balkan heritage.”

The five short film programmes and the children’s programme have been curated by Daniel Šuljić (Animafest Zagreb, Croatia), Petrit Gora (Anibar Animation Festival in Peja, Kosovo), Mina Sablić Papajić (from Belgrade, Serbia) and Croatian curator Branka Benčić.

“We’re focusing on countries that were formerly part of Yugoslavia, a country that brought together various religions, regions, languages and viewpoints from 1918 to 1991. After the war, the countries in this region developed their own national identities, but their cultural and geographical situation mean they are still closely linked. The Balkans is a complex region, which is why I don’t just want to concentrate on one single country. Art knows no borders – and that’ll also become clear through this series,” says Ivana Kvesić.

OVERCOMING CRISIS

Persepolis, Vincent Paronnaud, Marjane Satrapi, FR 2007

Overcoming Crisis curated by Doris Cleven and Oswald Iten shows how animated film grapples with topical issues in its own, refreshing way: how can we get over the impact of the pandemic? Or the impact of war? How can we respond to the trauma that impacts us as individuals or as a society? Alongside Persepolis (2007), the Oscar-nominated and Cannes Jury Prize-winning work by Iranian filmmaker Marjane Satrapi and French filmmaker Vincent Paronnaud on the Islamic revolution in Iran and its impact on a person’s life, the Renaissance short film programme offers insight from an array of different perspectives. Sometimes light, sometimes heavy; sometimes tied to current events, sometimes timelessly relevant.

The “Overcoming Biographies” exhibition plays witness to personal crises at Gluri Suter Huus Wettingen in collaboration with Edition Moderne, displaying a selection of graphic novels on crises and crisis management in people’s lives.

Current crises, in particular, highlight how important it is to enter into dialogue. Inspired by this, Fantoche is also offering a new discussion series that goes beyond these focal topics: “Let’s Talk”. Three topics came to the fore this year:

  • «Film & War»: With Dr. Rebecca Boguska, Daniel Šuljić, Christos Dimitriadis, Nora Naji, Mohammad Zaza & Jasmin Basic
  • «#metoo» (in Collaboration with Swiss Women’s Audiovisual Network (SWAN), L’institut DécadréE & Nous Prod): With Agota Lavoyer, Estelle Gattlen, Coline de Senarclens, Valérie Vuille, Clémence Bragard & Monika Schärer
  • «Immersive Technologies – New Realities»: Natasha Sebben, Maria Guta and Lauren Huret, Dr. phil. Björn Franke, Florian Bruggisser & Maike Thies

RECENT FEATURE FILMS

With 18 recent feature films and an extra surprise, there is something for everyone this year. The festival team are delighted to be showing two feature films with Swiss involvement in 2022: Yuku et la fleur d’Himalaya by Arnaud Demuynck and Rémi Durin, following the adventure of the little mouse Yuku on its way to find the Himalayan flower, and the opening film Interdit aux chiens et aux Italiens, the family history of director Alain Ughetto. “Luigi was my grandfather. He fought in two world wars – and he also fought hunger and fought for his family,” says the film’s director.

In Aurora’s Sunrise by Armenian director Inna Sahakyan, protagonist Aurora survives the Armenian genocide during the Ottoman Empire. The film blends animation with archive footage to tell a tragic story from contemporary history. The same goes for Silver Bird and Rainbow Fish by Chinese filmmaker Lei Lei, which explores China’s Cultural Revolution via his family’s history.

I Am What I Am (Haipeng Sun) also comes from China. This breathtakingly beautiful CG animation of a traditional lion dance tells the tale of an underdog and is suitable for children aged 8 and above. In addition, this year’s festival will also show five major Japanese productions: The House of the Lost on the Cape (Shinya Kawatsura), The Deer King (Masashi Ando, Masayuki Miyaji), The Girl From the Other Side (Yutaro Kubo, Satomi Maiya), Summer Ghost, a poignant coming-of-age drama that is the directorial debut of acclaimed illustrator loundraw, and Dozens of Norths, the feature film debut by renowned animation filmmaker Koji Yamamura which received an award in Annecy.

Fans of wacky films (generally only to be seen at festivals and far too rarely screened in cinemas) will be delighted with the programme this year, which features Unicorn Wars by Alberto Vázquez, a hypnotic, uncanny collage adaptation of Stephen King’s The Timekeepers of Eternity (Aristotelis Maragkos) and the post-apocalyptic Bob Spit – We Do Not Like People (Cesar Cabral). Director Cesar Cabral and producer Ivan Mielo will offer an insight into the stop-motion production of this latter film in their making-of session on Friday: a blend of documentary, comedy and road movie inspired by the life and work of Brazilian cartoonist Angeli.

With Interdit aux chiens et aux Italiens (Alain Ughetto), the chaotic piglet Oink (Mascha Halberstad), the generational tale Nayola (José Miguel Ribeiro) set against the backdrop of the civil war in Angola, a musical-inspired adaptation of Robinson Crusoe entitled The Island (Anca Damian) and the film version of Anne Frank’s diary, Where Is Anne Frank (Ari Folman), the festival will feature five films into whose creation process Fantoche has already gained an insight over the past few years, whether through Coming Soon screenings or the Masterclass given by Ari Folman.

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