Ruka (Die Hand), 1965, Jiří Trnka (Foto: Národní filmový archiv)

Animace / Animácia
100 years of Czechoslovak, Czech and Slovak Film Animation

September 3 to October 19, 2020
Historically, animation has often been treated as a precious article of cultural diplomacy, export and exchange in our countries: Slovakia, Czech Republic, and formerly Czechoslovakia. Thanks to the generosity of the Austrian Film Museum and the breadth and scale they have foreseen for this retrospective, we have been able to explore animation on a scope extending far beyond that of national treasure. With full respect for the canon, we have decided to tell the story of Czechoslovak animation in a heretofore unprecedented way.
As the title of our program suggests, the question of nationhood and statehood constitutes a crucial framework for this retrospective. While principally Czech both in origin and language, the most famous titles responsible for the legacy of animation were produced in Czechoslovakia. The country of production therefore necessarily plays an important part in our story. In addition to providing a theoretical and ideological background for the program, our attentiveness to this issue enables us to include authors generally identified as Slovak in the retrospective, as well as providing an openness towards the international aspects of animation in (former) Czechoslovakia, both historical and contemporary.
Another challenge is naturally posed by the definition of animation: It seems so self-explanatory that it has been consistently contested and questioned. If we think of it only as a technique, it doesn’t take long to arrive at the conlusion that in fact all film is animation by definition, which might well be true. At the same time, we often see animation film as a meta-genre or one of the varieties of cinema with its own infrastructure as well as its own modes of production and distribution. With this dichotomy in mind, we are consciously venturing into a field defined by a set of expectations and preconceptions.
In order to tap into these preconceptions in a productive way and grasp the idea of what animation actually is, we have decided to present the program in a variety of forms divided into several categories. These span from feature films, monographic profiles dedicated to selected artists and short film selections. As a tool for the audience to navigate the program, five thematic sections have been set up. Our story will therefore be told with the assistance of national mythology and collective dreams [A. FOLKLORE & SCI-FI & LEGENDS]; with a focus on animation techniques and the special place puppetry holds among them [B. PUPPET(S)]; as commentary on the freedom of expression and related traumas [E. POLITICS] and the potential of allegory [D. (NON)REALITY]; and finally also as an investigation of the medium itself and its surrealist aspirations [C. ANIMA(LAB)].
A final structuring principle worth mentioning is the diachronicity of the program, which stems mostly from our ambition to intertwine the canonical and the marginalized, the classical and the contemporary. By doing away with chronology, and by including titles made not only by professionals, but also amateurs and visual artists working with moving images, we hope to sketch out new trajectories of influence, legacy and tradition. For a film heritage institution like Národní filmový archiv, this is not only the preferred way of giving meaning to our collection, but also a necessity in our endeavour to think of heritage in its living, animated form. (Eliška Děcká, Martin Mazanec, Matěj Strnad for the Národní filmový archiv, Prague)
The retrospective is organized with the support of the Czech Center Vienna, the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Vienna, the Slovak Institute in Vienna, and the Slovak Embassy in Vienna. The program was developed in collaboration with the Slovak Film Institute which, together with the Národní filmový archiv, Prague, is providing the vast majority of film prints for the retrospective.
The principal curators would like to hereby express their gratitude to the following experts for their invaluable help in conceptualizing and assembling the program: Eva Šošková, Lea Pagáčová, Martin Kaňuch, Saša Gabriziová, Michaela Mertová, Pavel Horáček.
Most shorts in the retrospective are films with no dialogue. English or German subtitles (where necessary) are indicated in the respective program notes.

This program was originally scheduled to take place in April and May 2020, but was postponed due to Corona.
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