Animation – what’s not to love? It appeals to all ages, crosses all borders and speaks all languages. And yet it’s a genre which – unlike documentary, features and shorts – is often under-represented at festivals and frequently criticised by short-sighted members of the film industry. However, all that is slowly changing and, as constantly developing technology allows for animators to push the boundaries of possibility, the genre is growing in popularity the world over. Not least in Cyprus where, for the past 15 years, animation has been both promoted and celebrated under the auspices of the Countryside Animafest Cyprus.
Since 2002, the festival has been celebrating animation with a series of screenings, workshops, masterclasses, concerts and competitions, growing from a documentary festival in one village (called the Small Documentary Festival) into the Countryside Animafest Cyprus – Views of the World, which now focuses exclusively on the art of Animated Film. And, as audiences have grown significantly in recent years – both in terms of number and diversity – the festival now takes place in several locations around the island…
Since its inception, one of the founding goals of the festival has been the decentralisation of contemporary art – a concept which has paved the way for a number of other significant ‘countryside’ festivals on the island – and it now boasts activities in four locations lauded for their “traditional, historic and cultural value”: the Medieval Agrepavlis in Hambis Printmaking Museum in Platanisteia; the cultural space next to the Archaeological Palepaphos space in Kouklia; Technopolis 20 in Paphos; and TEPAK in Limassol.
Billed as “the Festival which has placed Cyprus on the world map of animation art”, this year’s theme, Aspects of the World, is presented under the auspices of the International Organisation of UNESCO for the Animation ASIFA and Hambis Printmaking Museum, sponsored by the Cultural Services of the Ministry of Education and Culture, and included in the official programme of the European City of Culture Pafos2017. “For another year,” say organisers, “we will be screening a selection of the best films of independent cinema animation from around the world, awarding both local and international films, and presenting exhibitions, workshops and masterclasses from international animation personalities.”
As part of this rich and diverse programme – which includes both a competition section and a ‘sidebar programme’ of related events – films are divided into the International Competition Section (animated films of no more than 30 minutes in length which are distinguished by originality of idea, story, visual design or execution, made by professionals and final year students) and the National Competition (to which all Cypriot directors are entitled to submit their work, providing it is in one of the two official languages of the Republic of Cyprus and contains at least 50 per cent Greek or Turkish dialogue).
But there’s a great deal more to the programme than the competition and the screenings, and it’s this that has made the Countryside Animafest Cyprus such a major player in the animation world: along with the animated feature films, the festival includes a Tributes and Retrospectives section (which, each year, focuses on an internationally acclaimed artist/filmmaker/animator, and features an exhibition of their work and a screening of a selection of their films), a Guest Programmer section (during which a distinguished filmmaker, festival programmer or festival director is asked to present a programme of their choice, especially curated for local audiences) and an Aspects of the Fantastic section, which sees the creation of a mobile animation film package of “the best of the fest” which will travel throughout the year.
Last, but not least, this is a festival that is always looking to the future, innovating and inspiring a new generation of animators. Animation conferences, an Animation Panorama (showcasing a wide range of techniques and thematic overviews), workshops, residencies and masterclasses, and a Children’s’ Animation Programme (a year-round project devoted to the promotion of children’s animation) round out what is one of the most cutting-edge and exciting festivals on the island. Making the 15th Countryside Animafest Cyprus – Views of the World this summer’s must-see event.
The 15th International Festival of the Countryside AnimaFest Cyprus
In a variety of locations between July 21 and 23. The full programme of screenings can be found on the website www.animafest.com.cy or the Facebook page ‘AnimaFest Cyprus’, email [email protected] or call 99 220809. Although there are no tickets, a €5 donation for those attending any of the screenings can be made on the night