The STOPTRIK International Film Festival joined the ranks of animated film showcases in Krakow this weekend. A Slovenian-Polish project, STIFF opened its doors on October 5 at the Małopolska Center of Sound and Word (Małopolskie Centrum Dźwięku i Słowa) in Niepołomice, 25km east of the city.
This is STIFF’s second edition, but its first time in Poland, after launching in August 2011 in Maribor, Slovenia with over 50 multi-award winning stop motion films. For the Polish event, the festival organisers opted to offer a selection of works from the opening edition in Slovenia.
“We put together a three-day festival focused on stop motion animation alone. We believe this form of artistic expression deserves more than just the few slots it is usually given at run-of-the-mill events,” STIFF’s artistic director, Olga Bielańska, told the Krakow Post.
Compared to other animation festivals, the admission requirements for STIFF are relatively strict. Computer generated animation shorts are ineligible to participate – only films made using ‘traditional’ stop motion techniques are allowed to enter the competition. STIFF offers hand-crafted cinema a chance to shine in an arena increasingly dominated by the digital.
This year, the festival’s organisers chose a sizeable collection of films from animation studios across the Balkans and Poland. Animation Across Borders, a distribution company specialising in Polish animated films, made its catalogue available to STIFF, and the festival selected the best samples of locally produced stop motion animation featuring puppets.
“Animated film has always played a major role in the Polish film industry. Nevertheless, it hasn’t yet achieved the recognition at home that it has abroad,” said Ms. Bielańska, who has also organised a review of Polish animation with the Etiuda&Anima Film Festival that is now a regular calendar event for animation aficionados in Krakow.
Selected works from Polish and Soviet animation schools of all periods were screened as part of the Slavic Panorama section, including shorts by the doyen of Ukrainian animated film, Yevhen Syvokin, and a mid-length documentary The Bug Trainer (2008) about the life of puppet animation pioneer Ladislas Starevich.