Czech animation has been a tradition for almost 100 years. Czech animators are considered pioneers in film animation. It began in 1920s and its "Golden Era" dates between 1950s and 1980s. Czech animators include Jiří Trnka, Karel Zeman, Břetislav Pojar, Jan Švankmajer, Vera Neubauer and Jiří Barta. Czech animators have employed cutout animation, puppet animation and clay animation. 3D animation is seldom used due to lack of finances and trained 3D animators. This led to downturn in the years after 1989.
There are opinions that Czech animated films undergo "revival." It is result of a new Generation of animators. Many of these young animators are still students. Creation of animated films is supported by some Czech universities such as Film and TV School of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Academy of Arts, Architecture and Design in Prague or University of West Bohemia.
Czech animation started in 1920s. Czech animated production from 1920s to 1945 focused mainly to advertisement for products but there were some experimental film such as Myšlenka hledající světlo (Thought looking for light). There were also some Child films. Most of the films were shorter than 10 minutes. Some animators who started their career during this period include Břetislav Pojar, Stanislav Látal and others.
The roots of Czech puppet animation began in the mid-1940s when puppet theater operators, Eduard Hofman and Jiří Trnka founded the poetic animation school, Bratři v triku. Since that time animation has expanded and flourished.
- 1945: Dědek zasadil řepu ("My grandfather planted a beet")
- 1946: Zvířátka to petrovstí ("Animals and bandits")
- 1946: Pérak SS ("The jumper and the men of the SS")
- 1946: Dárek ("The Gift")
- 1947: Špalíček ("The Czech Year")
- 1949: Román s basou ("Story of a bass")
- 1949: Čertuv mlýn ("The Devil's Mill")
- 1949: Arie prerie ("Song of the Prairie")
- 1949: Císařův Slavík ("The Emperor's Nightingale")
Czech animation experienced a boom following World War II. This was caused by nationalisation of Czechoslovak film industry and by Jiří Trnka's films. Czech animated film highlighted itself internationally when film Zvířátka a petrovští by Jiří Trnka won Prize at Cannes Film Festival in 1946. Animated films were produced in Atelier of Film Tricks (AFIT). AFIT later split in Studio of Puppet Films and Studio of Painted Films Brothers in Trick. Jiří Trnka was a part of Puppet Films Studio. He made 3 full-length and some short animated films in the end of 1940s and was one of the most productive animators in the world. His films in the 1950s such as Prince Bayaya, Old Czech Legends or A Midsummer Night's Dream earned him nickname "the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe". His final film The Hand was declared the 5th best animated picture in history. Another successful animator was Břetislav Pojar. His debut film One Glass Too Much was successful worldwide. Important figures of Brothers in Trick studio include Zdeněk Miler who created cartoon character Mole and Josef Kábrt who worked on co-production film Fantastic Planet.
Second animation studio was based in Zlín. Karel Zeman and Hermína Týrlová are considered the main figures of Zlín animators. Týrlová earned fame for her children's films. Her most famous film is The Revolt of Toys. Zeman's films mixed animation with live-action actors. His films drew inspiration from novels Jules Verne. His The Fabulous World of Jules Verne is considered the most successful Czech film ever made.
The Second generation of animators includes Jan Švankmajer, Jiří Barta, Vera Neubauer and Lubomír Beneš. Significant films of 1980s include The King and the Goblin by Lubomír Beneš, The Pied Piper by Jiří Barta and Alice by Jan Švankmajer. Animated films were funded by the State during Communism but were censored and many projects couldn't be realised as a result.
Film industry was privatised after 1989 which resulted in lack of finances for animated films and limitation of films produced by Czech animators. On the other hand, there are still successful films made. Jan Švankmajer made films such as Faust. Other successful animators include Aurel Klimt, Pavel Koutský, Tomasz Bagiński and Michaela Pavlátová.
Festivals of animated films
Anifest is an international festival of animated films held annually in the Czech Republic. It was established in 2002 and has attracted more than twenty-thousand guests per year. It is a specialized competition festival of animated production for film professionals, artists and animation lovers that builds on the famous tradition of Czech animated film and offers a unique opportunity to become familiar with the best of contemporary world and Czech animation work. In addition to the competitive and non-competitive film events, the festival includes various theatre performances, exhibitions, concerts and discussions, parties and other cultural and social events.
Anifilm is an International Festival of Animated Films held in Liberec, Czech Republic (until 2019 in Třeboň). It was founded in 2010. Festival features the most interesting films from the entire spectrum of animation, with awards in the categories of student work, design for television and made to order, and Best Film.
- The Czech Year
- The Fabulous World of Jules Verne
- The Hand
- Fantastic Planet
- The Pied Piper
- Alice (1988 film)
- Alois Nebel
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