CEE Animation Forum 2021: Winners Revealed

The CEE Animation Forum, the leading regional pitching, financing  and co-production event, was held online from 26 April to 6 May 2021.  The award ceremony marked the grand finale of the 2021 extended  two-week edition showcasing 40 animated projects in 5 categories  — selected from 116 submissions. International juries composed of  globally renowned experts from the film industry awarded various  prizes in the total amount of EUR 15,000 in cash and free scholarships  or direct access to prestigious European events.  

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation, the CEE Animation Forum again  took place online but was expanded into a two-week event. “The  unchanging situation forced us to remain in the online environment.  Taking it as an advantage, we decided to bring our content to the  largest audience possible, and we live-streamed 80% of the  programme for free. This has turned out to be an excellent decision as  the first statistics surpassed all our expectations,” explains Matija  Sturm, Managing Director.

The public was able to follow the programme via Facebook Live. So far,  1 350 hours of video content have been played, engaging more than 1  300 people altogether. Pitching videos and selected sessions of the  industry programme (discussion panels, presentations, case studies)  will remain available to the public until 15 May.

Over 350 film professionals took advantage of having access to  exclusive content – such as the keynote by Wendy Bernfeld (Rights  Stuff) on VODs for animation or full access to the 1:1 meetings with the  attending industry professionals, authors and decision-makers. The  four days dedicated to this online networking registered an all-time  record of 846 online meetings realized.

This edition was rewarding for the whole team, scattered over several  countries. However, we were used to watching people come together  to connect and discuss exciting new work. The online environment  hasn’t prevented us from helping all these promising projects meet  new audiences,” adds Saša Bach, Project Manager.

The ninth edition also brought several innovations. In 2021, the pitching  floor was newly opened to students who showed an impressive range  of topics and animation techniques in the Rising Stars category. The  Out-of-competition section showcased five winning projects from the  leading regional events. All registered participants had a unique  opportunity for the preview of the CEE Animation Talents, a selection of  seven short films made by the most talented young animation  filmmakers from Central and Eastern Europe. The premiere is planned  at Anifilm IFAF 2021 (June 22 – 27, Liberec, CZ).

The winners of the CEE Animation Forum 2021 are as follows: 


Jury members: Anca Damian, Pierre Mazars, Tonje Skar Reiersen

Winner: Birds Don’t Look Back
d. Nadia Nackle, p. Sebastien Onomo, Special Touch Studios, France

Jury statement: The CEE Award goes to Birds Don’t Look Back in  recognition of the project’s poetic approach to a universal story that  will resonate internationally. The combination of a talented and original  female director supported by a well-established new generation  producer is a desirable and promising constellation.

Special Mention: Dreamworld
d. Veljko Popovic, Milivoj Popovic, p. Milivoj Popovic, Veljko Popovic,  Prime Render d.o.o., Croatia

Special Mention: Senior Crush
d. Orsolya Richolm, p. Andrea Ausztrics, ULab Kft, Hungary



Jury members: Claudia Cazzato, Albert Hanan Kaminski, Richard  Lutterbeck

Winner: The Olive Bunch
d. Magnus Kravik, p. Maria Pavlou, Pixel giants, Cyprus

Jury statement: From the first images, you want to be part of this gang:  Fresh designs – warm colours – emotional stories with a lot of fun  produced with precise animation timing. The Olive Bunch is a  promising 2D tale of friends and family with a sprinkle of magic taking  place in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. The content is a colourful  splash in the carefree childhood that has the potential to captivate the  young and young at heart. A well-delivered pitch and a strong,  committed team are the extra elements that make it impossible not to  fall for this project made in Cyprus.

Special Mention: What the Old Moon Tells
d. Eliza Plocieniak-Alvarez, p. Carol Ratajczak, Blaue Pampelmuse,  Germany

Jury statement: The project gives voice to a minority and has the  potential to travel across countries thanks to its unique storytelling and  visuals.

Special Mention: Starting with Hope
d. Sonia Velvien, p. Kèota Dengmanara, Moukda Production, France

Jury statement: An ambitious project with a developable media  concept that tackles a sensitive topic. It earns the special mention for  its mission to contribute to a delicate conversation through the  powerful language of animation.



Jury members: Nikki Loke, Richard Valk, Wim Vanacker

Winner: IBIS
d. Maria Burgues, Enric Sant, p. Maria Burgues, BLISS PICTURES, Spain

Jury statement: John Cale put it best, fear is a man’s best friend, and it  takes courage to confront those fears, especially as a teenager. What  starts off as a carefree afternoon in the sun, ends up being an  introspective, very idiosyncratic, vibrant journey into unchartered  territory. What draws us in is the humanity and the simplicity of the  setup. What we want to applaud is the gentle and imaginative hand  with which this has been tackled. Style is what it takes, and style is what  it’s got. The award for the best short animation project goes to IBIS by  Maria Burgues and Enric Sant. Congratulations!

Special Mention: Patrick in Town
d. Eszter Sandor, Valentina Huckova, p. Valentina Huckova, Young  Glass Noodle, Slovakia

Jury statement: We’re talking quirky here and over the top; we’re talking  politically incorrect and far fetched, but as we all know, a bit of crazy  takes us a long way, and so does a happy cow. When Patrick’s in town, fun and funky awaits and that we’ll gladly embrace. And the special  mention goes to Patrick in Town by Valentina Huckova and Eszter  Sandor! Congratulations and hail to all those vegans out there!



Jury members: Mike Jelinek, Zillah Watson, Xinran Yuan

Winner: Finding Frida
d. Hilde Kristin Kjøs, p. Bjørn-Morten Nerland, Stargate Media AS,  Norway

Jury statement: We are delighted to nominate Finding Frida for the XR  award, a project that highlights the life and work of artist Frida Hansen.  We were impressed by the imaginative VR native approach to  storytelling, which truly plays to the strengths of the medium.  Considerable thought had been given to the role of the audience in the  story and to incorporating meaningful interactivity to add to the magic.  Taking the aesthetic lead from Frida’s tapestries will allow people to  dive deep inside her art and mind. The strong team behind Frida have  come up with a way to tell this story that will have broad human appeal,  and we wish them success.



Jury members: Torben Meier, Lana Tankosa Nikolič, Joseph Wallace.

Winner: Desire to Win
d. Michaela Rezova, p. Zuzana Bukovinska, Academy of Arts,  Architecture & Design in Prague, Czech Republic

Jury statement: Here we witnessed a real filmmaker. Someone who  shows competence and skill in all aspects of the form: the use of  interview, archive footage, sound, image and motion. The director has  cleverly chosen animation to tackle this particular subject matter  about the renowned but also somewhat controversial artist. Michaela  shows great respect and empathy for the subject and passion for the  project, which is indeed needed in order to finalize this ambitious  project.

Special Mention: The Last Drop
d. Anna Tokes, p. Jozsef Fulop, Moholy-Nagy University of Art and  Design Budapest – MOME, Hungary

Jury statement: This project demonstrates beautiful and sensitive use  of animation to convey the duality of the aesthetic performance versus  physical and psychological hardship. With strong stylized visuals that  mirror the sport she is portraying, Anna tells a personal story rooted in  her own experiences.



The audience was also asked to vote. Over 1000 votes were registered  across all pitching categories. The animated feature project Vast Blue  Antarctica (d. Christos Panagos, p. Charalambos Margaritis, Kimonos  Animation Studio, Cyprus) has received 219 votes, the highest vote rate  surpassing 4.2 (out of 5) and wins the Audience Award of EUR 1,000.


CEE ANIMATION WORKSHOP – free scholarship 

Winner: Dreamworld
d. Veljko Popovic, Milivoj Popovic, p. Milivoj Popovic, Veljko Popovic,  Prime Render d.o.o., Croatia



Winner: director Miha Reja, Kurent (p. Bostjan Potokar, School of Arts – University of Nova Gorica, Slovenia)

Statement: We are delighted to announce that for the strong style and  interesting technical pipeline of his project, for the clear vision and very  good pitch and obvious personal dedication, we, the Animation Sans  Frontieres partners, are very happy to award Miha Reja the CEE  Animation Forum 2021 ASF prize, which will consist of a full scholarship  to the 2021/2022 programme, starting in October this year at the  Akademie Baden-Württemberg. Congratulations again Miha, we are  looking forward to meeting you and working with you together.


CARTOON MOVIE – direct access 

Winner: Dreamworld
d. Veljko Popovic, Milivoj Popovic, p. Milivoj Popovic, Veljko Popovic,  Prime Render d.o.o., Croatia

Winner: Vast Blue Antarctica
d. Christos Panagos, p. Charalambos Margaritis, Kimonos Animation  Studio, Cyprus


CARTOON FORUM – direct access  

Winner: Robot and the Martians
d. Tomasz Niedzwiedz, p. Tomasz Paziewski, Badi Badi, Poland


CARTOON SPRINGBOARD – direct access 

Winner: Rosie and Sapphire
d. Anna Katalin Lovrity, p. Balint Gelley, CUB Animation, Hungary

Winner: Senior Crush
d. Orsolya Richolm, p. Andrea Ausztrics, ULab Kft, Hungary



Winner: Electra. A Poem
d. Daria Kashcheeva, p. Zuzana Krivkova, FAMU, MAUR film, Czech  Republic

Statement: The pitch we would like to honour today served as evidence;  experience to dive into the deep feelings and memories of a young  woman who has to deal with relationships. The teaser was a promise  of poetry, complex narration, a brilliant sense of directing and a bright  combination of techniques. The prize goes to the film Electra. A Poem by Daria Kascheeva, produced by FAMU and MAUR film.



Winner: The Olive Bunch
. Magnus Kravik, p. Maria Pavlou, Pixel giants, Cyprus



Winner: The Olive Bunch
d. Magnus Kravik, p. Maria Pavlou, Pixel giants, Cyprus



Winner: The Icebreakers
d. Ignas Meilūnas, p. Justė Beniušytė, Kadru Skyrius, Lithuania

Statement: For a simple but not naive story about fundamental  values.

Winner: Desire to Win
d. Michaela Rezova, p. Zuzana Bukovinska, Academy of Arts,  Architecture & Design in Prague, Czech Republic

Statement: For an interesting approach, for documentary and  animation.

In addition to the cash prizes, all jury winners together with the  Audience awarded project will be presented at the special CEE  Animation pitching presentation, which will be part of the official MIFA  2021 programme.


CEE Animation is supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA  Programme of the European Union and co-funded by state funds and foundations and professional organisations from Slovenia (DSAF,  Slovene Animated Film Association), Czech Republic (ASAF, Association  of Czech Animation), Hungary (HAPA, Hungarian Animation Producers  Association), Poland (SPPA, Polish Animation Producers Association)  and Slovakia (APAF, Slovak Association of Animated Film Producers).  CEE Animation Forum is organized in co-operation with Eurimages. 


CEE Animation is supported by the Creative Europe – MEDIA Programme of the European Union and co-funded by state funds and foundations and professional organisations from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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