The Animateka International Animated Film Festival is a specialised competitive festival which focuses on Central and East European animated film production. It takes place annually since 2004 at the Kinodvor Cinema and at the Slovenian Cinematheque in Ljubljana during the second week of December. Animateka is organised by the 2 Reels – Association for Reanimation of Storytelling.
The festival includes several sections, depending on each year’s edition, and also a rich programme of retrospectives, additional screenings, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and other events. The call for eligible animated films is usually open from May till September.
Animateka’s roots go back to the 1990s when the Slovenian Cinematheque introduced a special monthly programme (curated by Igor Prassel, who later became the director and the main selector of the Animateka festival) focusing on animated film.
Among the sections, 3 are competitive: the Competition Programme; Elephant in Competition; and European Young Talents Competition. The Competition Programme’s focus on contemporary animated film production from Central and Eastern European countries garners Animateka a great deal of attention in the larger international context. The Elephant in Competition programme focuses on animated film production meant for young audiences and attracts huge international attention.
Each year, an international 5-member-jury, composed of artists, festival curators and/or scholars confers the main festival award and five special mentions (one from each member). The main festival award, the Animateka Grand Prix, goes to one or two selected works from the Competition Programme, whilst each member of the jury is able to confer a Special Mention to another film of his or her choice from the Competition Programme.
The jury composed of selected representatives from the audience bestows the Slovenian Animated Film Association Audience Award (to any film from the entire festival programme), while the children’s jury grants the Elephant Award for the selected work from the Elephant in Competition Children’s programme. A Special Mention is also given by a student jury.
As its first guest, the Animateka residency programme hosted and presented Danijel Žeželj (Croatia/USA) in 2004. During the years that followed artists in resident included: Lars Fiske (Norway); M. S. Bastian (Switzerland); Koji Yamamura (Japan); Georges Schwizgebel (Switzerland); Matti Hagelberg (Finland); Priit Pärn (Estonia); Max Andersson (Sweden), a filmmaker and comics author (contributing to Stripburger magazine since 1999); Julie Doucet (Canada); Theodore Ushev (Bulgaria/Canada); Akinori Oishi (Japan); Rosto (The Netherlands); Joni Männistö (Finland); Caroline Sury (France) and Edmunds Jansons (Latvia). The graphic design for festival editions has been usually created by the artists-in-residence.
Animateka also brings an abundant accompanying programme. It includes the AnimatekaPRO conference for professionals from the field, puppet performances, VR animations, concerts, workshops of animation, exhibitions of animation related drawings (at the premises of Kinodvor, sometimes also in cooperation and on the premises of the International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana). As Animateka hosts many authors of the films in competition as well as other guests, public talks, working breakfasts or midnight gatherings are organised mainly at Kinodvor Café.
Since 2015, Animateka has run also the so-called Poletna Animateka, a summer programme of animated film screenings at the Metelkova museums platform or on Gornji trg, and a series of workshops of flip-book creation and pixelation technique events around town.
In 2010, the Animateka festival initiated the Cartoon East project which connects six regional festivals: Animafest Zagreb (Croatia), Animateka Ljubljana (Slovenia), anim’est Bucarest (Romania), Balkanima Belgrade (Serbia), Banja Luka International Animation Film Festival (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and FestAnča Žilina (Slovakia). The East European Animation Award is bestowed to one of the short films, nominated by each participating country. The first award went to Croatian artists Veljko Popović and Svjetlan Junaković for the film My Way.