The 9th TAF took place from October 21st to October 30th 2023, both in live and digital formats, following the success of our previous hybrid festival. The in-person part of the festival was held at Warehouse D in the Thessaloniki Port from October 21st to October 24th, while the digital part was available from October 25th to October 30th. As always, admission to all screenings, talks, and festival activities was free for everyone.
This year, our festival received over 3,000 participation entries from all around the world. Out of these, we hosted 144 short animated films with various themes. Just like in previous years, the films that won in the competition section were selected by our jury, which consisted of distinguished guests from the international and domestic animation industry. Our goal, as always, was to make the festival more inclusive and diverse, and accordingly, we shaped our screening program. We want to thank the thousands of viewers who attended the film screenings and enjoyed a multicultural experience with works of art from international artists.
The first day (October 21st) started dynamically with screenings of competition films and the beginning of masterclasses, with a speech by Dimitris Savvidis, Co-Founder of Funny Tales Animation Studio and General Manager of Number 9 (Greece) VFX Studio and Dimitris Kazantzis, General Manager of Funny Tales Animation Studio, on the animation industry. This was followed by a presentation by Tim Allen, a renowned stop-motion animator, who talked about his two-decade journey in the industry and his involvement in major film projects like Wes Anderson's "Isle of Dogs" and Guillermo del Toro's "Pinocchio." Additionally, young artists had the opportunity to receive feedback from professionals from Funny Tales and Three Deers production companies. The evening concluded with our opening party!
On the morning of October 22nd, screenings of the "0-99" block took place, featuring films suitable for both children and adults. Additionally, the Balkan Animation Forum (BAF) was held for the fourth consecutive year, where artists from the Balkans competed for prizes to support their in-development projects. BAF brought emerging artists in contact with established professionals in the field.
The project that won first place was "Roxanda," directed by Dragan Jovicevic. The second place went to Pantelis Paradisis for his film "Sand of Shade," and the third place was awarded to the film "Cut the Tie," directed by Anna Oikonomou. An honorable mention was also given to the project "Atomic" by Iva Zahova.
After the competition, a networking event took place, allowing all TAF guests to get to know each other and discuss the industry's developments.
On Sunday evening, along with the screenings of the competitive section, a Festival Panel took place in which Dr. John Osborne (Associate Programmer of the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival [AmDocs]), Teddy Grouya (Founder and Director of the AmDocs Festival), Arba Hatashi (Managing Director of the Anibar International Animation Festival [Anibar]), and Stavros Savvidis (Director of the Thessaloniki Animation Festival) participated. The representatives of the festivals answered questions and discussed the progress of their events, the procedures they follow for the film selection process each year, and more. This was followed by a masterclass by Lazaros Anagnostopoulos, Managing Director of Three DEERS VFX Animation Studio, in which he presented the analysis of a 3D concept for the production of television commercials.
At the same evening on the same day, the 6th International Competitive Block "Greek Panorama" was screened, featuring films by Greek creators. We were more than happy for having some of the creators in the audience, who spoke about their works presented at the Festival!
On October 23rd, the first day of the two-day Tim Allen workshop was held at the AKTO College of Art and Design campus in Thessaloniki, with AKTO students and participants who were selected through an Instagram competition hosted by TAF. In the afternoon, alongside the screenings of the final segments of the competition block, Κleoniki Drouga, a screenplay professor at the School of Fine Arts at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, delivered a masterclass on animation screenplay lessons at the university. Furthermore, Konstantinos Kakarountas, President of ASIFA Hellas and founder of Dahouse Production Studio, talked about his recent involvement in the production of ERT's television series "The Fire Bracelet" and the representation of the great Thessaloniki fire of 1917 through special effects.
The awards ceremony for the films that participated in this year's event and the presentation of honorary awards for organizations and individuals who actively support TAF took place later. Vice- Governor of Tourism, Region of Central Macedonia, Olga – Christina Goula, and the Head of the Film Office- Central Macedonia, Lina Milonaki received their plaques while AmDocs and Anibar received awards for their collaboration. Additionally, Tim Allen, Dr. John Osborne, Konstantinos Kakarountas, and Dr. Eleni Mouri were recognized for their contribution to the animation industry. The closing party was held at the festival venue.
On the morning of Tuesday, October 24th, the last day of Tim Allen workshop took place at AKTO while at Warehouse D, we had the pleasure of welcoming the talented young creators from the 6th Intercultural School of Eleftherios-Kordelio, who, under the direction and supervision of their English Teacher, Mrs. Chrysa Nikolopoulou, presented their film "Elizabethan Theatre." The sixth-grade students had the opportunity to see their creation on the big screen and enjoy an unforgettable experience.
We are very proud to have had the honour of hosting two renowned festivals with a strong presence in the international animation industry. On Tuesday evening, a special tribute to AmDocs, the largest festival of its kind on the West Coast of the United States, was screened in collaboration with AmDocs Founder and Director Teddy Grouya, as well as a series of artists. In addition, a special tribute from the Anibar Animation Festival, one of the largest festivals in the Balkan Peninsula, based in Kosovo, aiming to empower the animation industry and promote social awareness through the art of animation, was presented. We were delighted to have Arba Hitashi, the Festival Director, present and speak to us about films that had been previously featured at Anibar and were screened at our event this year.
The series of lectures concluded first with a speech by Vasilis Eudokia and Lefteris Faidas, Creative Directors, Writers, and Designers at the Funny Tales animation studio. They presented in detail the steps for producing an episode of an animated TV series. This was followed by a speech from Eleni Mouri, a professor of Animation at the University of Western Attica, where she talked about the postgraduate animation program at the university and three narrative models in animation. Alongside her, Anna Oikonomou, a student of the department, presented her graduation film and the in-development project "Cut the Tie," for which TAF, as a leading festival (together with Anibar and the Balkan Film Food Festivals), secured the EFFEA 'Discovery' scholarship from the European Festivals Association for its completion.
The series of lectures concluded first with a speech by Vasilis Eudokia and Lefteris Faidas, Creative Directors, Writers, and Designers at the Funny Tales animation studio. They presented in detail theRegarding the digital part of the festival, our program this year was available from October 25th to October 30th. Similar to the previous three digital events, the films were categorized according to the blocks’ division of the physical festival. We count more than 20.000 views! Our audience had the opportunity to rate their favourite films and nominate the Audience Award.steps for producing an episode of an animated TV series. This was followed by a speech from Eleni Mouri, a professor of Animation at the University of Western Attica, where she talked about the postgraduate animation program at the university and three narrative models in animation. Alongside her, Anna Oikonomou, a student of the department, presented her graduation film and the in-development project "Cut the Tie," for which TAF, as a leading festival (together with Anibar and the Balkan Film Food Festivals), secured the EFFEA 'Discovery' scholarship from the European Festivals Association for its completion.