Japanese animation will have a strong presence at the 10th annual Anifest in Teplice, the Czech Republic. The festival runs this year from April 26th until May 1st. The festival will feature a retrospective of the career of Shinichiro Watanabe (渡辺 信一郎, b. 1965). Screenings will include Samurai Champloo (TV anime, 2004-5), Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2001), and the OAV collaborative anthology The Animatrix (2003).
Watanabe’s favoured composer, Yoko Kanno (菅野 よう子, b. 1964) will also be performing at the festival. In addition to Watanabe’s works she also works closely with directors like Yoshiyuki Tomino and Shoji Kawamori writing the scores for a wide variety of popular anime including Macross Plus (1994), Turn A Gundam (1999), Escaflowne: The Movie (2000), Wolf’s Rain (2003) and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (2002).
The festival will also be holding a special screening of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo (2008).
My favourite part of Anifest is the competition, which always brings out the best in world animation. Here are the Japanese shorts competing this year, as listed in the online programme:
In a Pig’s Eye (Atsushi Wada, 2010)
A giant pig is lying in front of a single-family house. Everyone in the family knows of its existence and the pig is aware of the family's life. Yet neither can understand the way the other perceives things. The film's dreamlike atmosphere combines with the characters' bizarre behaviour.
Two Tea Two (Hiroco Ichinose, 2010)
As the alarm rings, a woman wakes up and decides to enter into her own past. Yet becoming one with one's own former self is not the right solution. Indeed, there is a whole new image. This "fluid" felt-tip drawn animation reminds viewers of a dream just before an awakening.
Omokage/Remains (Maki Satake, 2010)
Grandfather died ten years ago and left a series of photos. Travelling to the places where they were taken, the film becomes a journey through time back to childhood. This film combines the pixilation of a real-life environment with old photographs.
Kuchao/The Gum Boy (Masaki Okuda, 2010)
Kuchao is a first grader, but he is not part of anything that goes on at school. He even stands aside while others go and have fun releasing balloons. But when he starts chewing gum, he enters the world of his own imagination and his balloon changes into anything he can think of.
Tatamp (Mirai Mizue, 2010)
This abstract animation visualizes the relationship between music and different shapes. Each shape produces a tone or a tune - the louder the sound gets, the greater the individual structures grow. Here comes chaos, hand in hand with astonishing musical tunes.