History of Azerbaijani animation

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The history of Azerbaijani animation is so far a nearly unexplored field for Western film theory and history. Most of Azerbaijan's production of animation for cinema and television was created during Soviet times. A lengthy history interlocks between the art, politics and the ever-changing economy.


Soviet era[edit]

Creation of animation film in Azerbaijan goes back to the early 1930s. In 1933, employees of Azerbaijanfilm studio purchased necessary materials from Moscow. The same year, they used technical animation in production of the documentaries Lokbatan and Oil Symphony’. In 1938, the educational film Jat was first full length work where animation fully used.[1]

In the late 1960s, Azerbaijanfilm studio was provided with facilities to make animation films. A group of 20 artists was created, a special course opened to learn secrets of the animation.[1] On February 28, 1969, production of animation film Jyrtdan motived by the same-titled folk story was completed. Jyrtdan was the first film made after restoration of the animation film shop at the film studio. In 1969, the animation was released and for long time was shown at the cinemas. The production of Jyrtdan started the second era of history of animation film in Azerbaijan.[1]

In the 1970s, over 20 animation films were produced in the at the animation film section of the Azerbaijanfilm studio. In 1970, animators made 3 animation films, two of which were microfilms Bear and mouse and Lion and bull. The latter was included in all-union anthology ‘Kaleidoscope-71’.[1]

In 1980s, production of animation films continued as animations such as Yaz oyunları (Spring games), Nar ağacının nağılı (Story of pomegranate tree), Xrizantema yarpağı (Chrysanthemum leaf) and Çətin məsələ (Difficult issue) were made. But the artistic quality of Azerbaijani animation films were not at the same level as in the west. There were several reasons for this, mostly due to lack of technical appliances, in particular color.[1]

Republic era[edit]

After the dissolution of the USSR, the situation for Azerbaijan animators changed dramatically. In the 90s, Azanfilm made 19 animation films, including Bir dəfə haradasa... (Once somewhere...), Oda (Ode), Göyçək Fatma (Lovely Fatma), Karvan (Caravan), Sohbatul-Esmar.[2][3]

In 1991, cell animation İthaf (Dedication), which was dedicated to the victims of Stalin repression was awarded the diploma of Oberhauzen International Film Festival, the most successful debut prize of Kiev KROK-91 International Animation Film Federation (ASIFA) Festival and the best animation film prize of Vision from East Baku International Film Festival.[2]

In 2000s, Azerbaijani animation entered a new crisis as all channels in Azerbaijan indefinitely postponed funding for all projects.[4][5] In 2008, Azerbaijani ministry of culture and tourism celebrated the 75th birthday of Azerbaijani animation.[6]


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