Taking place in July each year, Animafest is a festival which appeals to all ages, crosses all borders and speaks all languages. Since its inception in 2002, it’s grown in leaps and bounds: moving from one small village to a number of locations across the island; flourishing in terms of associated screenings, workshops and masterclasses; and enticing ever-larger audiences from ever-increasing destinations around the world. The subject? Animation. A genre which is mostly under-represented at festivals but which has become, over the past few years, a bit of a selling point for the island of Cyprus…
Now why, you wonder, are we hyping an event some four months distant? We’re not. Because this year, for the first time, Animafest organisers have created an event aimed specifically at future generations: Animafest Junior. Taking place at the Melina Merkouri Hall in Nicosia between March 14 and 17, the more correctly-titled Animafest Cyprus – Junior Edition is three days of animated delight, organised by the non-profit organisation Animafest Cyprus Views of the World under the auspices of the Municipality of Nicosia, supported by ASIFA, and sponsored by the Cultural Services of the ministry of education.
“We’re introducing this edition because we wanted to emphasise children’s films at a different period of the year,” explains Animafest artistic director Yiorgos Tsangaris. “After 17 years in the countryside focusing more on films for adults, we thought a centralised festival aimed at younger audiences was a must.”
Set to be an annual shindig which takes place in March and targets children, young people, educators and parents who are interested in expanding their knowledge in the art of animation, Junior Animafest boasts an extensive programme of events: a series of curated children’s animated films by independent artists and studios from all over the world (including work from local artists), along with lectures, tributes, exhibitions, a children’s competition programme, workshops and specialised masterclasses in new technologies. Focusing on education from preschool level through to professional training, the new iteration aims to “develop outreach programmes in the field of education and support the cultivation of animation in Cyprus, with screenings of animation films for children and families, exhibitions, educational programmes, creative workshops for students and professionals, seminars, lectures,” over the coming days, organisers explain.
The programme begins with an educational series for junior school children, “aimed at the cultivation of the children’s audience in Cyprus, as well as the introduction of educators to the art of animation, making use of existing collaborations with other international animation festivals around the world for the exchange of film programmes and for organising educational workshops.” This section boasts two programmes: the roughly hour-long international selection, in which audience members become the jury, and vote for their favourite animated film; and a selection of animation shorts which have already appeared in the adult festival but are unlikely to have been seen by younger viewers. Taking place on the first two days of the festival, the film programme runs from 4 to 8pm on March 14, and from 9 to 10am on March 15 – a time designed to allow schools and educators to take part in the festival. Importantly, a number of the films in the programme are the work of local animators: “There is a small community of excellent animators on the island,” Yiorgos reveals, “and we’re paying tribute to them with an exhibition of their work.”
While films such as The Swimming Lesson and Dragon Sledge will no doubt appeal to the younger audiences, a number of parallel events will also be taking place during the festival. Two workshops which will allow students and professionals the opportunity to actually use animation techniques (Character Design with Katerina Pandela and 3D Modelling with Andreas Rossides) have been designed to “help children communicate using a broad spectrum of visual messages, thus developing their creativity”, while a series of specialised masterclasses for professionals (taking place in collaboration with Graphic Stories Cyprus), will see experienced screenwriters, artists, animators, educators, producers and directors present a series of lectures, case studies and workshops promoting the visual arts, illustration and animation.
All in all, the three-day event is set to place Cyprus even more firmly on the animation map, and familiarise new, younger audiences with a genre for which we, as an island, are becoming renowned. “Animafest Cyprus – Junior Edition is essentially a panorama of wonderful animated films; a marathon of animation during which we hope to introduce younger audiences, as well as educators and parents, to this exciting genre,” Yiorgos concludes.
Animafest Cyprus – Junior Edition
At the Melina Merkouri Hall, Nicosia, from March 14 to 17. For more information visit www.animafest.com.cy