Lecture:Last Three Decades in Czech Animation
This year’s KuanDu International Animation Festival, it was an extreme honor for us to invite Pavel Horáček as our lecturer, who introduced the last thirty years of Czech animation’s development and evolution to the audience. As the program director of IFAF Anifilm, Pavel Horáček is also an initiator and dramaturge of the Internet platform, Anioint.com. This platform creates a place to share copyrighted animation works legally and without fee charging. Due to the fact that the lecture’s date was near to the 100th anniversary of Czech Republic’s National Day, Horáček said that he’s very happy to come here and give the speech. To most of the public, the classic golden era of Czech animation was around the 1950’s and the 60’s. Since 1945, Czech was ruled by the communist regime. Under this system, all of the film productions and photography industries were controlled by the authorities. Instead of being as private works, they became the country’s property, which meant stricter censorship and regulations were carried out at that time. This kind of regulations made lots of animators and artists can’t do their creation freely, due to the fact that their works would all be examined by the authorities first, just like a transformed mind-checkpoint. However, there were still advantages under this system—financial supplement. The government used its public authority to support all kinds of film works which passed the censorship, and this made the whole Czech animation industry stepped on a relatively stable path to keep on improving and experimenting new skills and equipment. Some clever artists would still try to hide anti-communism messages in their works, to express they were unsatisfied with the government. After the Velvet Revolution took over the communist government in 1989, the Czech animation industry became private again, leading to another huge variation of the topics and issues inside these films. Facing this sudden change, many small animation studios went to bankruptcy due to the financial lack. Without the government’s unconditional support, the survived studios had to learn to cooperate with capitalism, and try to strive for chances of commercial cooperation. However, most of them were still ended with failure. Talking about the animation long films, Horáček mentioned a famous Czech artist: Jan Švankmajer. He is one of the artists who runs his career well since the start of stepping into the capitalism era. He had already cooperated with many countries since the late period of communism era, and produced many famous long film works, such as Faust. However, Horáček thinks Jan Švankmajer leads out another path of filmmaking, which becomes more far and far from the original “pure animation” way, because his techniques in these films used more life-actors and real scenes than traditional animation. Horáček also introduced other significant animation works, from the first full-animation film Báječná show(The Amazing Show), to the recent 3D CGI film Harvine and the Magic Museum, we can see the striving path of Czech animation. Over these 30 years, they already made 17 long animation films, which is kind of a great number for a country which only has ten million populations on average. About animation short films, Horáček mentioned the Anifilm and Anioint.com, which provided a platform for great short films to keep standing out and be seen by the world. Though the short films lost their permission to play in the theater after the adjustment regulation in 1989, they’re still keep developing and let the world see how amazing creativity Czech animations can have through the power of Internet and the animation festivals hold by people who are passionate about animation. Today, Czech animation keeps its shine on the international stage, and it surely will keep glows along.