Interview with Expert Jury for Short Animations: “Octopuses are definitely more interesting than carps”
Why is it that interviews with animation juries often end up in wildlife discussions? Featuring in this interview are several deep see animals, horses, dinosaurs, “a remarkably high number of birds”, and of course Vassilis Karamitsanis (president of Animasyros festival in Greece), Tomas Danay (animator, programme director for BAB festival in Slovakia) and Alexandra Majova (animator, Czech Republic).
Let’s find out how good you got to know each other this week. Which one of you has been drinking the most?
Tomas Danay: That must have been Alexandra.
Alexandra: Yes, for sure! I’ve been here the whole week with my one-year-old kid.
Vassilis: Probably Tomas.
Who has been talking the most?
Tomas: There is no question about it. That must have been Vassilis.
Vassilis: I accept without objection.
Who has been most often falling asleep during screenings?
Vassilis: We needed to be awake every morning at 9:00.
Tomas: Unfortunately we were watching shorts. After every film the applause would wake us up.
If you as a festival organiser could steal one thing from the Zlin festival and take it home with you, what would that be?
Tomas: The budget.
Vassilis: I would steal the three girls, Marketa, Jaroslava and Mila, and their special energy. Everything runs smoothly and efficiently on the level of organisation. They have a great chemistry among them and with the guests.
What was your favourite animal so far in this week’s film selection?
Tomas: The little tiger in TOWN HALL SQUARE was so cute.
Alexandra: We had a remarkably high number of birds. And bears. And pigs.
Vassilis: The human bird in the Canadian film CORVINE, about a boy dressed up as a crow.
Any impressions you want to share about the city of Zlin?
Tomas: We admired the atmosphere in the park. All those kids playing, it elevated the festival to another level. And the city felt really welcoming.
Vassilis: Coming from a Southern country where this kind of lush vegetation is scarce, I was surprised by the urban greenery, well taken care of and really refreshing, like an intermission when moving from building to building.
Since we’re talking about Zlin, we should talk about shoes. Does anyone have an opinion about shoes? We’re having at least one spectacular pair of shoes around the table.
Tomas: We’re all wearing a rather basic type of shoes so I guess this question is for Vassilis.
Vassilis: I’ve been wearing those quality Bata shoes, but I didn’t know they were Czech. In Greece they might be marketed as Italian. This time I came with a more extravagant choice.
Alexandra: Well euh…
Tomas: Crocs maybe?
Tomas: Actually I have a pair of crocs. They’re very practical…
The fact that you have them doesn’t mean you need to promote them. We’ve had several confessions in jury interviews, but never this one. And talking about intimate confessions: Which mature character from last week’s films would you like to get to know better and maybe even ask out on a date? I emphasised the word ‘mature’!
Vassilis: I would go for the sailor in MIDDLE WATCH; he is Czech.
Alexandra: I am here with my husband so this is a very tricky question. I liked the funny guys in MY NAME IS EDGAR AND I HAVE A COW and the guy in APOCALYPSE DOG was funny but not my type.
Which director should have made an animated film at least once in his / her life.
Vassilis: Quentin Tarantino, making an animated splatter movie.
Tomas: Christopher Nolan could be interesting, as many of his ideas came from animation. INCEPTION, for example, was inspired by an anime named PAPRIKA. Other directors who like animation already include it a little bit in their work, like Wes Andersen.
Which animal is the most difficult to animate?
Alexandra: Horses have a special walk; I was always bad at drawing horses.
Tomas: Dinosaurs have a very different bone structure and you have no reference; nobody knows how they actually looked or moved.
What about animation in your country today?
Alexandra: It’s growing bigger and faster all the time. It’s great that now we have good funding, we find many new talented directors. I’m all the time curious to find out what is coming up next, and it’s often surprising.
Tomas: The Czech and Slovak markets are well connected; I guess we have a similar situation. The new president of the Audiovisual Fund has a background in animation; we have high hopes for things to shift in the future.
Vassilis: Greek animation is growing. It didn’t exist 20 years ago, but with the support of the Greek Animation Association (ASIFA) and the Greek state, a lot of new works are coming, culminating in the Greek presence in the Annecy festival.
Could you imagine yourself having a parallel career that has nothing to do with cinema?
Vassilis: This is my life! I am a lawyer and in my free time - which is not so free anymore - I am organising the festival and I have a small animation production studio.
Tomas: When I was young, I wanted to be a footballer. Later I wanted to become a psychologist. Actually direction and psychology seem to be strongly connected. You need to understand the mind of your characters to write a good script.
Alexandra: I would like to be a sea explorer. We don’t even have a sea in the Czech Republic, only lakes. But I would like to explore the deep and see giant octopuses, more than a dirty pond full of carps. Referring to your earlier question, maybe octopuses are the hardest to animate, but definitely more interesting than carps.
Tomas: In POND we met various interesting underwater species.
Which animals are missed the most in today’s animation?
Alexandra: That’s definitely the octopus and other deep sea fishes.
Vassilis: Some endangered species. Animation can help our society get more sensitive about it.
Do you have any advice for the programming committee?
Tomas: Art is always subjective. Each one of us would pick a totally different festival selection. But maybe the first screenings could start 2 hours later.
Alexandra: For kids 9 AM is fine.
Vassilis: Not for older kids like us.
Imagine you’re a festival programmer with 100% carte blanche and an unlimited budget, what would your festival look like?
Tomas: This is very hard to imagine in a place like Slovakia.
Alexandra: Outdoor cinemas are not common here. Maybe…
Vassilis: They are common in Southern and Mediterranean countries. In Athens for instance we have 40 operational commercial outdoor cinemas. Even on the island where we organise our festival, for 11,000 inhabitants we have 1,5 outdoor cinemas, screening 50% blockbusters and 50% alternative programmes. But even in the South sometimes the weather can be bad. In our festival in late September, we already had hurricanes and heavy rain during outdoor screenings.
What is the last film you’ve seen that made you laugh or cry out loud?
Tomas: The first time I watch a movie, I do it from a professional perspective so I don’t get attached that much to a story and I look more at the techniques and special effects. If then you’d start laughing or crying, it means that something is seriously wrong with this movie!
Alexandra: I had a lot of fun with the Dutch short animation PIG. And there was a very sad Holocaust movie from Sweden.
Vassilis: It was called THE STORY OF BODRI and it almost made me cry.
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