Canadian Short Film A Crab in the Pool Wins the Animest Trophy
A Crab in the Pool by Alexandra Myotte and Jean-Sébastien Hamel won the Animest Trophy in the 18th edition of our festival. The grand prize was awarded on Saturday, October 14, during the ceremony organized at Cinema Elvire Popesco, and automatically qualified the winning short to be eligible for the Oscar selection. Animest is the only Oscar-qualifying film festival in Romania, a status we’ve held since 2017. One of our biggest joys? At our 18th edition, over 15,000 animation lovers and creators participated in the screenings and special events lovingly curated for the 10-day festival.
Directors Marta Pajek (Poland), Britt Raes (Belgium) and producer Sabīne Andersone (Latvia), this year’s International Short Film Competition jurors, described Grand Prize winner A Crab in the Pool as “a touching story of brother and sister coping with loss, each in their own way. Great storytelling and authentic characters take us into a world of well-observed reality which blends with the imagination of a child.” The filmmakers also awarded a Special Mention to the film Nun or Never (directed by Heta Jäälinoja, Finland), saying that “everyone has their secrets. This witty and beautifully animated film takes us into the wild world of nuns.” Armat, directed by Elodie Dermange (Switzerland), won the Anidoc Prize for the best animated documentary short: “a personal story that tackles the weight of a family heritage carried through generations. A beautiful metaphor of a painted cabinet makes us wonder whether it is a gift or a burden.”
The three jurors also presided over the Student Film Competition. The section winner was the short Above the Clouds (by Vivien Hárshegyi, Hungary), “a memory of a love story gone wrong. Despite cringy and embarrassing moments, it gives us a warm feeling that allows us to relate to the girl with a broken heart,” while Dog, Bread and the Flowers from Tomorrow (directed by Mihaela Mîndru), a France-Republic of Moldova co-production, won the Special Mention for a story where “the simplicity and charm of folk art shows us a world as experienced by a child. We see the perspective of a little girl trying to understand the meaning of a ritual and tradition following a loved one’s death.”
The Spanish feature film Tender Metalheads, directed by Carlos Perez-Reche and Joan Francesc Tomas Monfort, was crowned the Best Feature Film at Animest.18. The jury – directors Ilze Burkovska Jacobsen (Latvia), José Miguel Ribeiro (Portugal) and Jean-Charles Mbotti Malolo (France) – was unanimous in its decision to choose this “film that achieves the power of animated storytelling with a skillful minimal graphic design and animation. The construction of deep characters with a strong human dimension and the clever use of humor to address emotional subjects takes us on a journey of growing up in an urban environment while discovering the deep values of humankind.”
The three filmmakers also designated the winners in the Romanian Competition. Zidane Roulette, directed by Emy Mirel Ivască, won Best Romanian Film, in recognition of “the value and the worth of the human dimension, the importance of the small details in the storytelling and the cleverness of the mise en scene." The jury also awarded a Special Mention to the animated documentary Devices (directed by Doru Mărgărit), “for the use of animation and humour to raise awareness about a contemporary and important subject,” that of electronic waste.
Some of the prizes awarded in this edition of Animest were provided by TVPaint and MyAirBridge.
Music artist and composer Benjamin Efrati (France), director and animator Sijia Luo (China-Japan), and Teodora Vamvu (Romania, Radio Guerrilla) were our Animusic jury this year. “The stylishness of the graphic style, the perfectly timed match of the animation to music/sound, and the overall artistic value of the approach to music video animation” won D'un Feu Secret (directed by Amanda Bonaiuto, USA) the Best Music Video Award. The jury also gave out two Special Mentions, to Wake Up (directed by Cossa, Mexico), “a beautiful depiction of surrealist animation, with a masterful color palette, great control of transitions and surprising plot elements that embody deep and meaningful metaphors. The video is a stylish, magical realism piece of art, with a great control of timing, graphic variety and skillful editing,” and to Doilies & Trinkets/Mileuri și bibelouri (directed by Adrian Cârciova, Romania), “a beautiful stop-motion animation with a strong storyline tied-in perfectly with the lyrics. The video evokes the nostalgia of a not-so-distant bygone Communist era whilst also celebrating the strength and beauty of family and friendship”.
In the section dedicated to Virtual Reality, the jury – artists Claudia Larcher (Austria), Mihai Grecu (Romania-France), and Ciprian Făcăeru (Romania) – chose the Taiwanese production Samsara, directed by Hish-Chien Huang, as the Best VR Film: “an innovative and captivating piece that beautifully expands the storytelling landscape. Through meaningful interaction and a poetic sense of spatial immersion, the work captivates its audience in a deeply immersive experience. Not content with mere spectacle, it aims higher: it creates awareness for the ethical problems of current society as well as pressing environmental issues. Yet, what distinguishes this work is its futuristic, positive vision. It suggests not just a critique but a pathway, inviting the viewer to partake in a journey towards a better, more sustainable future.” The Special Mention went to UK director Bambou Kenneth, creator of Kindred, thanks to its “good control of timing, enveloping the viewer in a beautiful rhythm that is both gentle and cozy. Beyond its aesthetic merits, it courageously delves into the politically overlooked topic of the adoption process of non-binary individuals. Through this lens, the film becomes not just a visual treat, but a meaningful experience that challenges us to think more deeply about identity and belonging. The convincing use of documentary footage and mixed media adds layers of authenticity and complexity, making it a poignant, multidimensional piece.”
Following Minimest tradition, the Best Short Film for Children Award was decided on by the youngest and perhaps most critical of the viewers. Lea Maria Grosu, Medeea Morăraș, and Sara Moisiu chose Harvey, directed by Janice Nadeau (France-Canada), saying they “liked the film because the boy didn't want to accept that his father could be forgotten. Throughout his life, the child tries to take his father with him. The film’s graphics were interesting and emotional.”
For the first time at Animest, a special prize was awarded by the Teen Jury, as part of an Animation Incubator project. Clara Amariței, Paula Benu, and Zena Pop-Cohuț chose the feature film Tender Metalheads for “the organic development of the story and the genuine characters, which have made the story very authentic. The visuals were simple, yet unique, and supported the atmosphere of the story. The cultural references and the humour were the criteria that differentiated this film and made it so relatable to us.”
Pitch, Please! – our program dedicated to supporting emerging animation filmmakers in Romania as they develop their early-stage productions – recognized The Shoebox as the winner, “a film with strong potential, highly personal but with universal themes, and visually appealing.” Director Cristina Pîrvu won a double director/producer accreditation for Rise & Shine Animation Pitching Lab 2024 – an international workshop for the development of animated films, organized in two modules in Croatia and Slovenia. Dave King (UK), Matea Milić (Croatia), and Bastien Martin (Belgium), the three specialists who reviewed this year’s pitches, also awarded two Special Mentions to the projects Sorry, I'm Late (directed by Eugen Munteanu), a story with “an important voice, one that deserves to be supported. Strong sense of design and confident narrative. Not so much a feel-good film, but rather a positive one, and animation is in need of positive stories.” – and Little Oak Tree/Stejărelul (by Nicoleta Miron and Liana Chiriță), for “striking and exceptionally well developed” visuals.
At the end of the 18th edition of Animest, which saw a new audience record, the winning films were presented with the edition’s trophies, crafted this year by artists Cristina Milea and Cătălina Moga. Audiences could also enjoy the winning films during additional dedicated screenings on Sunday, October 15.
What about Animest.18 numbers? Film lovers demonstrated once again, through their enthusiastic presence in cinemas, that animation holds a special place in the hearts of Bucharest residents of all ages. Among the most popular screenings of the edition were the nighttime events (Creepy, Trippy, Animusic, and Erotica), which together attracted over 1,500 viewers, as well as the Romanian Film Competition, closely followed by the anime on Japan Day and the short films in the International Competitions.
Over 150 guests representing the animation film industry participated in the 10 days of the festival, meeting Bucharest audiences during post-screening Q&A sessions or through the Animest+ program. The masterclasses that attracted the most participants were those by Japanese director Keiichi Hara, director and animator Marta Pajek, and music artist and composer Benjamin Efrati.
In total, around 15,000 spectators experienced the magic of animated film at the 18th edition of Animest. And we listened to their preferences too: the Audience Award went to Rosemary A.D. (After Dad), directed by Ethan Barrett (USA). Viewers who voted were automatically entered into a raffle for a full pass for Animest 2024, won by Theodora Chirica. See you next year in cinemas – until then, follow us for our educational and cultural programs throughout Romania – both online and in person!
The Animest Festival is a project of the Animest Association, co-financed by the MEDIA Program of the European Union and AFCN – the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.
The Animest.18 project is co-financed by the Bucharest Municipality through ARCUB. The project does not necessarily represent the official position of the Bucharest Municipality or of ARCUB.
Institutional partners: The French Institute and the Embassy of France, Instituto Cervantes, The Austrian Cultural Forum, Goethe-Institut, The Embassy of Japan, Japan Foundation, Liszt Institute – The Hungarian Cultural Centre, The Czech Centre, The National Film Centre of Latvia, IZANAGI – Japanese Film Festival, CNDB – The National Centre for Dance Bucharest, UNATC – the I.L. Caragiale National University of Theatre and Film, the Animation Festival Network.
Partners: Groupama, Aqua Carpatica, Sâmburești, BMW, TVPaint, MyAirBridge, Kafune, Crama de Piatra, AnaPan, FruFru, Arthub, Home.
Main media partner: Radio Guerrilla.
Media partners: Radio România Cultural, Itsy Bitsy FM, IQads, Zile și Nopți, Elle, Vice, Scena9, Observator Cultural, Agerpres, Ziarul Metropolis, Mindcraft Stories, Happ.ro, LiterNet, MovieNews, Cinefan, Cinefilia, AaRC.ro, SuntPărinte.ro, AIVImedia.hub, Munteanu.
Monitoring partner: mediaTRUST.