By Laman Ismayilova
Azerbaijan’s First International Animation Festival ANIMAFILM, held in the capital in October 2018, attracted dozens of children and film enthusiasts with its multiple events.
Following its success, ANIMAFILM team is now busy with working on program for this year’s second edition of the festival.
In his interview with Azernews, Director of ANIMAFILM Rashid Aghamaliyev told about the history of the festival, its main goals and future prospects.
"Azerbaijan has a very rich history of animated films. Being a film scholar by profession, I studied the history of our animation for two years and together with my friends and colleagues we published the book “Azerbaijani Animation”. While working on the book, we realized that modern Azerbaijani animation is in a very difficult condition. Unfortunately, there are few animated films for children being made in our country," said Aghamaliyev.
The festival's director added that he is very worried about this problem, since animation plays a big role in the development of the child’s speech and self-awareness.
“Children are our future. That is why we decided to create ANIMAFILM Baku International Animation Festival, because we want this festival to become a platform for the development of this art in Azerbaijan. We want to please children and adults with high-quality animated films, to create the ground for the development of national animation," said Aghamaliyev.
He also outlined the main objectives of the festival that has already turned into a real festivity for children and their parents.
"We are confident that if there is such a regular international animation platform in the country, then the local specialists will have the opportunity to communicate with their foreign colleagues and share knowledge, which should give a positive result and bear fruit. In short, this will start stimulating local specialists to make animated films that our children will definitely watch," Aghamaliyev noted.
The first ANIMAFILM festival was a great success and it gained a lot of publicity. More than 495 applications were submitted from 63 countries, including France, the U.S., Iran, Germany, the Great Britain, Italy, Canada, Spain, Japan, etc.
"I admit, such attention of animation directors and writers to the festival pleasantly surprised us, because we didn’t have a big PR campaign due to lack of funds. And we were even more surprised by the results of the international competition - the winner of our festival, the Irish film "Late Afternoon", was later nominated for the Oscars," said the festival's director.
ANIMAFILM 2018 had a rich competition and non-competition program.
"Due to the fact that the first festival was dedicated to Azerbaijani animation, we decided to hold retrospective screenings of the best national animated films throughout the festival, starting with the 1950-1960s and ending with the present day. In addition to Azerbaijani animation, audience was also able to watch retrospectives of Russian, Georgian and Iranian animation," said Aghamaliyev.
The screenings were held with the participation of the authors themselves in Nizami Cinema Center, YARAT Contemporary Art Space, 20th-21st Century Azerbaijani Painting Museum and Center of Contemporary Art in Icherisheher.
Moreover, master classes of animation for children and presentation of the "Azerbaijani Animation" book were also held as part of the festival.
"In honor of the 120th anniversary of the national cinema, the guests were invited to the "ReAnimation" exhibition that covered history of the development of national animation. The original poster of our festival belongs to the brush of the honored artist of Azerbaijan Vugar Muradov," said Aghamaliyev.
The festival's director further stressed that interest in animation in Azerbaijan is growing.
"The festival was wonderful, but it takes time to evaluate its contribution. Now I see that the interest in animation in our country is growing. I am sure that such a festival is a great need for our country," he said.
Last year, the festival turned out to be a great success, attracting many visitors.
"There were many spectators, the venues were full. It turned out that our festival is very interesting to people. Children had the opportunity to watch the latest high-quality animated films from all around the world. In addition, we managed to create a real holiday – besides watching cartoons, there was a lot of interaction, a rich children's and music program," Aghamaliyev noted.
In his interview, the festival's director also shared his plans for future.
"This year, the 2nd ANIMAFILM festival will be held in Baku on October 8-20. Along with a professional jury, the Organizing Committee will form a Kids jury. A jury including five children will determine the winner in the nomination "Best Short Animated Film for Children" said Aghamaliyev. "Now we are holding a competition for the selection of children, in which every child aged 7-13 years can participate. The famous Azerbaijani animation director, honored cultural worker Elchin Hami Akhundov will select members for the Kids jury."
Meanwhile, the international jury of the festival will be headed by the winner of the Golden Ship Award, the author of the famous animated film "Tig-Tig Khanim" Masud Panachi. The full international jury will be announced very soon.
The applications should be sent until July 31, 2018. The festival’s director noted that 95 applications from 44 countries have already been submitted.
"The topic of the 2nd ANIMAFILM festival will be Czech animation. Famous animation directors will arrive from the Czech Republic and show the audience their films. We are planning a large exhibition about Czech animation and four blocks of retrospectives of Czech animation," said Aghamaliyev.
In conclusion, the festival's director spoke about different steps being taken to popularize the festival.
"We cooperate with leading Azerbaijani and foreign media and highly appreciate the work of journalists," he said, adding that the festival was also presented abroad.
"In 2018, we presented our festival at the world's largest animation festival in the city of Annecy, France. In March 2019, the echo of our festival was heard in Prague and at the end of October our festival will be a participant of the TOFUZI festival in Batumi, Georgia," Aghamaliyev said.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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