Animation festivals are and always have been a key part of the industry for professionals and fans alike. Getting your work seen is why we make films as animators and seeing new animation, networking and hearing from animators is super interesting. The perfect place to do any of this is at an animation festival.
There are so many that take place around the world that give an insight into animation in every form, from traditional 2D animation to stop-frame animation. So many different types of festival take place that it’s often hard to know which ones to enter your films into or better still, plan a trip to visit. Here is our list of ten of the best British and International animation festivals you might consider entering or visiting.
Annecy International Animated Film Festival
Probably the most famous of the animation festivals is that which takes place in Annecy. It is also the longest-running – first established in 1960. This huge festival in France is now held every year and features a who’s who of huge animation companies and films. Pixar is in regular attendance as well as other animation giants such as DreamWorks, Cartoon Network and Disney. The festival is a chance to brush shoulders with some legends in the animation industry as well as being able to see some preview releases of major motion picture animated films. Don’t be intimidated though as the festival caters to all levels of production from international studio to independent. Be aware that entering a film may not necessarily mean that you get it shown. The festival is best suited for those that have some experience in animation and who are trying to get a film idea shown to the world of animation. The festival takes place in June every year so keep an eye out for submissions before this.
Animasyros is the largest animation festival held in Greece and one our animation director Dan Richards visits every year! This boutique festival grows every year and is held on the beautiful and historic Greek island of Syros. Established in 2008, the event takes place every year around September. One of its most unique features is that the festival is built upon three main pillars of entry – the artistic programme, the education programme and the market section. As well as having your film screened in the artistic programme, the festival offers an opportunity to learn and see studio work through the other two pillars. Being a slightly smaller festival makes entry for those who have just left university perfect. It’s a festival our studio has had close links with for ten years, offering workshops, talks and collaborations.
Established in 1972 (making it the second oldest animation festival in the world), Animafest Zagreb originated from the Zagreb School of Animation. This pedigree holds the festival in high regard and shows that they truly have their roots in the medium. Covering every aspect of animation from exhibitions and seminars to workshops and screenings, their motto is ‘a festival by the filmmakers for the filmmakers’. This passion for the craft and those who create it makes Animafest Zagreb a perfect festival to enter no matter your level – be that just out of university or a professional animator finally putting their passion project out into the world. Even if you don’t have a finished film to submit, it is still a great place to go if you want some support and constructive criticism from industry professionals. The festival usually starts in June so check their website for details on submission.
Manchester Animation Festival
As Britain’s largest animation festival, Manchester Animation Festival has a lot to offer anyone even remotely interested in the art form. Their philosophy is that animation exists everywhere in today’s society, from phone screens to feature films and so its many forms should be celebrated. The focus for entrants to this festival is also placed mainly on students – from school age up to post-graduate. Having the film submissions mainly come from these categories makes the festival an exciting platform for new and up and coming talent and ideas. Consider entering this one as it could really be a great start for any young animator’s career. Manchester Animation Festival takes place yearly in November so put it on your calendars!
Festival Stop Motion Montreal
Next we’re heading over to Canada for this festival which has a unique twist that we at the studio love. Based in Montreal, Festival Stop Motion is special in that as the name suggests, it has a complete focus on stop-motion! Established in 2009, this festival is perfect for anyone with a passion for both creating and watching stop-motion animation. It takes place yearly in September and offers a wide range of workshops, talks and films which all show why stop motion is such a beautiful and unique art form. Featuring films from around the world, this is one to look into entering or visiting if you love stop motion. This is a festival on our wish list to visit in the next couple of years.
London International Animation Festival
Based in central London, this festival has it all – Gala premieres, retrospectives, Q&As with filmmakers, workshops, audience voting, and the ‘Best of the Festival’ screening are among the many things available to you at this powerhouse animation festival. This festival aims to dispel the misconception that cartoons are merely for children and that lots of thought-provoking and insightful ideas can be brought to life through the medium of animation. This makes the festival perfect for anyone with a film that has something to say. If you have a message that needs to be heard and the only way you can show it is through animation, this festival is perfect for you. Usually taking place in late November, London International Animation Festival last a whole ten days, giving film entrants plenty of time to enjoy everything that is put on offer.
Festival of Animation Berlin
Another great European animation festival is the Festival of Animation Berlin. Based in the German capital, this festival came about due to a lack of purely animation related events in the city. It may be a fairly recent festival, only having taken place for the past three years, but it still boasts a large following within Germany. One of the main draws of this festival is its embracing of national representation. A whole competition category has been added that is completely focused on German animation. This makes the festival perfect if you are a German-based animator. However this shouldn’t put you off if you’re not, because there is also emphasis placed international entries and entries aimed specifically at children. The festival takes place in October every year and features lots of opportunities to meet animation experts, as well as take part in various animation related events happening throughout the festival’s duration.
Imaginaria – International Animated Film Festival
This festival has one of the best beautiful locations of any on this list. Being the only purely animation-focussed festival in the Apulia region of Italy, Imaginaria transforms the town of Conversano into an animation haven. The festival curators say that it is ‘the festival of people and places’, cultivating a family atmosphere that both professionals and the public can enjoy. Each screening is held in open-air cinemas around the town, giving an amazing backdrop for any film that you wish to enter. The overall aim for Imaginaria is to get as many people to see animation as possible, and this can be done through the screening of independent animation. Taking place at the height of summer in August, keep an eye on their website for when entries open.
Kaboom Animation Festival
Kaboom Festival was started two years ago through the merging of two previous Amsterdam based festivals. The advertising and mission statement for the event oozes with a passion for animation, and they aim to show it off in any form possible. One of the major selling points for Kaboom is it’s split focus on the main festival and Kaboom Kids, each side of the festival focusing on animation for adults and children respectively. This gives you lots of options for the types of film you can enter into the festival. Whether your style is serious and poignant or silly and cartoony, there will be an audience for you. The festival also has a focus on showing off short films, showing them in screenings with other similar themed films and topics. This is again perfect for anyone of any position within animation to get something made that will be shown to hundreds. Look out for this one when it opens in August.
Finishing off this list with a fairly new festival, Lightbox puts a focus on developing a link between fans of animation and the professionals that make it. The show is made up of independent exhibitors screening their work and their films to anyone who wants to see. The festival is less focused on entering films, but more on helpful criticism from industry professionals as well as seeing what other animators have to offer. Having only started in 2019 the show is still finding its footing. However, the first expo appears to have been a huge success and will only grow as the years go on. Use this one as the perfect opportunity to show your work off to others before putting out onto the main festival circuit. Taking place in September, the festival is one to look forward to later in the year.
Although this is a long list, there are so many other amazing animation festivals available to enter, some with even more specific interests that you may connect with. We hope that this has given you some idea of the number of amazing ways that you can get out there and have your animation seen by the world no matter your place in the animation industry. If you have yet to make your masterpiece and have been inspired to start making your own short films from this list, why not check out our blog on getting started in stop-motion. We are looking forward to seeing some amazing animation out on the festival circuit very soon!