Eastern European Animation Showcase

Eastern European Animation Showcase

In collaboration with Samizdat Film Festival, we present eight shorts from the past 60 years of eastern European animation. From Estonia to Yugoslavia, Hungary to Czechoslovakia, these miniature masterpieces capture the surreal, otherworldly, and often fiercely political tradition of drawn and stop motion cinema in both the socialist and post-socialist periods. Animation was a world of imagination and allegory within the state censorship machine, but it was also a pure expression of artistic intent. Featuring famous masters of the craft like Jan Švankmajer and Jiří Trnka, as well as neglected figures like Estonia’s Rein Raamat and Hungary’s Ottó Foky.

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Eastern European Animation Showcase
  • Tyll the Giant

    Directed by Rein Raamat • 1980 • USSR/Estonia

    Rein Raamat’s reimagination of an old Estonian folk legend is a strikingly beautiful and harsh vision. The titular hero is king of the island of Saaremaa, which he protects from invaders and natural disasters – but his strength proves no match for th...

  • Dimensions of Dialogue

    Directed by Jan Švankmajer • 1982 • Czechoslovakia

    Jan Švankmajer, the Czech maestro of the absurdist and the grotesque, is at his visceral best in this allegorical short. Featuring three takes on the concept of communication, Dimensions of Dialogue showcases Švankmajer’s perverse fascination wi...

  • The Masque of the Red Death

    Directed by Pavao Štalter and Branko Ranitović • 1971 • Yugoslavia

    This eerie Yugoslav adaptation transforms Poe’s classic Gothic tale into a disturbing cautionary tale about the dangers of sexual temptation. Capturing the castle of Prince Prospero in moody ochre tones, directors Pavao Štalter a...

  • Scenes With Beans

    Directed by Ottó Foky • 1976 • Hungary

    A miniature oddball classic from Hungary’s celebrated Pannónia studio, one of eastern Europe’s great hotbeds of animation. Written by József Nepp, himself a master of stop motion film, Scenes with Beans is Ottó Foky’s absurdist allegory about the irrational...

  • The Hand

    Directed by Jiří Trnka • 1965 • Czechoslovakia

    “The Walt Disney of Eastern Europe”, Jiří Trnka was one of the most influential figures in Czech animation history. This subversive allegorical short, one of his most poignant creations, was banned in communist Czechoslovakia for two decades. What b...

  • ...And Plays Tricks

    Directed by Priit Pärn • 1978 • USSR/Estonia

    A celebration of the anarchic potential of animation, Estonian writer-director Priit Pärn throws the kitchen sink at this wildly inventive short. The “plot” involves a cast of grotesquely realised animal characters who are tormented by a shapeshifting...

  • Jirtdan

    Directed by Aghanaghi Akhundov and Yalchin Efendiyev • 1969 • USSR/Azerbaijan

    Produced at the start of the golden age of Azerbaijani animation, Akhundov and Efendiyev’s Jirtdan (meaning “small” or “dwarf”) is a magical little treat in which the titular tiny hero and his brothers must outwit the ...

  • Money and Happiness

    Directed by Nikola Majdak Jr. and Ana Nedeljković • 2022 • Serbia

    A post-socialist update on the rich tradition of eastern European stop motion animation, Nikola Majdak Jr. and Ana Nedeljković’s Money and Happiness is a delightful, doleful takedown of capitalist credos. The workers of Hamsterlan...

  • Scholar Adam Whybray on the hidden history of Czech animation

    Samizdat Film Festival co-curator Ilia Ryzhenko speaks to Adam Whybray about the strange and subversive history of Czech animation, providing fascinating insight into the festival’s showcase of Eastern European animation. Adam Whybray is a lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Suffolk and...

  • Notes on Samizdat’s Eastern European Animation Showcase

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