Out of tragedy, there came light.
The Hiroshima International Animation Festival, of which the 2020 edition was held August 20-24, was first organized in 1985 – the year Hiroshima observed the 40th anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on the city – as a way to turn the solemn occasion into a chance to bring people joy.
The biennial event, held primarily at Hiroshima City and the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation (ASIFA), has since grown into one of the most important animated festivals in the world, without ever losing sight of its original goals. With that in mind, this year’s festival was held at a reduced scale due to the coronavirus outbreak, though the festival’s mission remained intact.
“The Hiroshima International Animation Festival has been a gateway to success for young animation artists. This is also reflected in the festival’s activities,” said HIAF Secretariat representative Ayumi Yokotake, who has been involved with the festival for the past five years.
“For the fifth edition, we created the Frame In initiative for young people aiming to become professionals to workshop and present their works. Then for the 11th edition, we started the Educational Film Market to connect animation schools with students and industries hoping to nurture young talent. We have a long history of expanding the festival to involve and help as many creators as possible.”
Over the years, the people involved with the festival included some of the biggest names in animation, like the Disney and Pixar luminary John Lasseter, who served on the festival’s International Jury in 1990, and the Russian “paint on glass” animator Alexander Petrov, winner of the 1990 HIAF Grand Prize for his short, “The Cow.”
“Alexander Petrov is a renowned director who won the American Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film and the Grand Prix of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival,” said Yokotake. “He is also the International Honorary President of this year’s festival.”
Osamu Tezuka’s short film, “Broken Down Film,” won the Grand Prize at the very first Hiroshima International Animation Festival. Considered a Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, Tezuka advanced not only the art of Japanese comic books but also of animation.
The winners of this year’s festival have been announced, and they represent some of Japan’s most important names in animation. Grand Prize winner for the 18th Hiroshima International Animation Festival was “Daughter” by Daria Kashcheeva, while Amir Houshang Moein won the Hiroshima Prize for “Am I a Wolf.” Vasily Efremov’s “Beetle in the Anthill” won the Debut Prize and Anna Kuzina won the Renzo Kinoshita Prize for “Warm star.”
The next festival is scheduled to be held in 2022 and will be renewed. The Hiroshima International Animation Festival is one component of Hiroshima city’s comprehensive art and culture event that encompasses the media arts of animation, manga, movies and more, as well as music, so keep an eye on this flourishing scene.
Find out more about the Hiroshima International Animation Festival at eng.hiroanim.org