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  • Drawn together: Highlights of the Berlin Animation Festival from founder Pia Djukic


Drawn together: Highlights of the Berlin Animation Festival from founder Pia Djukic

We sat down with founder of the Berlin Animation Festival, Pia Djukic, to talk curiosity, transformation and the importance of collaborative thinking.

Photo: Damaris Becker / Preesents

Now on its 7th edition, the festival offers the Berlin Animation Hub for the first time this year, connecting animators with industry leaders. Djukic, originally from Stuttgart and now a high school teacher in Weißensee, tells us about this year’s premier animation collaboration event.

Tell us about the origins of the festival, when did it start?

FAB was founded by Daniel Demele and myself in 2017, and started as a one-night event at Villa Neukölln. Our first festival trailer, designed by dyrdee Media, went viral and the event was sold out. We presented animated short films by artists from the Berlin comic scene.

Blue Dream, directed by Malte Stein, won the audience award. The crowning finale of the evening was the audiovisual live concert, where “A New Beginning” made its premiere on stage. FAB has transformed since then into three full festival days with competitions in six categories and a diverse range of events, like our exhibition FAB Dimensional presenting space-based animation.

FAB 2021 masterclass. Photo: Mervi Terzi

What is it about Berlin that makes it a major animation hub?

Berlin is the best place to host a festival dedicated to the art and craft of animation. On the one hand, there is the proximity to Germany’s oldest film academy, the Filmuniversität Konrad Wolf in Potsdam-Babelsberg and its teachers, students of the animation course, and the alumni association. On the other hand, Berlin is home to numerous artists, animators and filmmakers from all over the world, and many animation, special effects or motion graphic studios have settled in this city as well as collectives that deal with the medium of animated film.

Where did your relationship with animated film begin?

As a child, I was fascinated by cartoons by Tex Avery, Hayao Miyazaki and John Kricfalusi. As a teenager, I regularly attended the ITFS [Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film]. So I decided to train as an animator right after school. Then I completed art studies at the ABK Stuttgart and animation studies at the Film University in Potsdam-Babelsberg, before I went on to found the FAB.

FAB 2021. Photo: Monira Kamal

The festival programme includes an array of events alongside the screenings. Could you tell us more about the importance of bringing different aspects of the animation community together?

We are convinced we need animation and that animators, both local and international, need us as well. Filmmaking is, by nature, a collaborative process – animated filmmaking specifically is perhaps the most collaborative of all. Aware of this spirit, we’ll host the Berlin Animation Hub within the festival for the very first time, which enables all members of the animation industry to get inspired, to speak up, learn and connect.

FAB 2021. Photo: Florian Böhm

Could you tell us about any special highlights this year?

We have a particularly exciting selection of short films again this year. For example, in our International Competition we are showing Letter to a Pig by Tal Kantor and Holy Holocaust by Osi Wald and Noa Berman-Herzberg on the theme of remembrance. Many films also revolve around relationships within the family, such as Cuddle by Margot Reumont, Wild and Woolly by Alan Jennings, Fly by Patty Stenger and Rosemary A.D. (After Dad) by Ethan Barrett.

For those who would rather see a feature-length film, we recommend Art College 1994 by Liu Liang with an introduction by the art historian Ursula Panhans-Bühler. In our free FAB Dimensional exhibition, we will show works by Ulu Braun and Motomichi Nakamura, among others. And if you want to be more active and get into the flow, you can join the dance workshop “The Animator’s Body” by Camilla Przystawski and Johanna Jörns to improve your creativity through dance and movement.

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