18 years of MONSTRA, on the loose in Lisbon and in the World!

“… there is no more painful longing than the longing for things that never were!!”
Fernando Pessoa – Bernardo Soares (The Book of Disquiet)

Following many actions, but especially an artistic installation at the 1998 Cerveira Biennial (20 years ago) which glossomed a water mil that moved with the force of blows of a giant zootrope, we thought about doing this festival, and with it celebrating creativity and artistic transversality.

And in May of 2000, we began to find people from different worlds, cultures and arts. A route that aims to transmit new artistic looks, based on the most pluri and transdisciplinary language we know, the only one that builds new movements, sensibilities and emotions from inert images, Animation Cinema.

MONSTRA is, for 18 years, our provocation, our meeting space for experimentation and dialogue between different languages. We have always been exploring the concept: animation cinema does not begin or end on the screen. It starts before the screen, in the exhibitions that represent the backstage and the artistic thought until the final creation. In the screens materializes the best cinema of animation that takes place in the world. Beyond the screen the animation explores new contemporary and avant-garde artistic dialogues between the art of animated image and all analog and digital arts, plastic, virtual and augmented. A meeting of worlds, cultures, technologies, knowledge and experimentation.

As the festival reaches its 18th year, we keep to this course, thus bringing a deep look into Estonia’s animation cinema to Lisbon and the partner cities of MONSTRA On the Run. The country reaches 100 years of existence in 2018. This retrospective will be marked by great works and masters, like Kaspar Jancis, Priit Tender, Chintis Ludgren, Rao Heidmets or Priit Parn, the latter being the author of the illustration on the MONSTRA 2018 poster. These authors and many others make the Estonian animation cinema one of the most acclaimed, appreciated and prized in the whole world, due to its experimentalism, difference and unique aesthetic.

Along with this great retrospective, containing about 150 films, we have the “escapes for freedom”. A program consisting of great works of art from the History of Animation Cinema of which we highlight; Belleville Rendez-Vous by Sylvain Chomet (who will be among us), René Laloux’s Wild Planet, and one of the greatest animation works of all time, George Dunning’s Yellow Submarine.

The program of the festival will also be marked by Early Man’s preview to the already-quadric Oscar nominee who will come to MONSTRA to talk about the film and its work.But high moments of MONSTRA 2018 will also be the presentation of the world premieres: The 4 States of Matter, the first film by Miguel Pires de Matos who, besides being a great friend of the festival, began his activity as a director at MONSTRA.

Another big premiere is The Origin of Sound, film of one of the most recognized, talented, innovative, awarded and Oscar nominees directors of all time, Paul Driessen. To these we joined Maria and the 7 Dwarfs, a production of the Nukufilm of Estonia, with realization of the master Riho Unt. All these premieres are attended by the authors who will do master classes, and there is as well an exhibition of unique images of Paul Driessen’s film.

In addition to these, other national and world premieres will take place in different competitions. An example of this is The Breadwinner (Emille Award winner) a current drama about a girl who goes from being a boy to becoming the head of the family while her father is in prison; La Gatta Cenerentolla, an Italian film where reality and fantasy give way to the raw truth, or Have a nice day of the Chinese director Jian Liu, China today, caught between tradition and a new beginning.

These are some examples of the diversity of the competition MONSTRA 2018, along with half a hundred great films in the Short Competition, more than 60 in the Student Competition and many more in the Supershorts and MONSTRINHA Schools and Family Program competition. The Portuguese Competition, this year with a record participation, presents a dozen works of great quality, assimilated to the best that we present in the international competitions, showing the vitality and quality of the national production.

In this edition, also not to be missed, the large and diversified retrospective of Japanese films. Mamoru Hosoda (already awarded in MONSTRA) and the debut in Portugal of Gauche de Cellist by master Isao Takahata (presented by producer Takashi Namiki) and by the retrospectives of the artists Kunio Kato and Koji Yamamura both present in this edition of MONSTRA.

The smaller ones also deserve the attention of our programming. MONSTRINHA, both in the school sessions and in the Family program sessions, presents the best of the world animation for kids and adults. In the relationship we keep anually with the “before the screen” we highlight the nine exhibitions to be held at the Museu da Marioneta, Fábrica do Braço de Prata, Cinemateca Portuguesa and Cinema São Jorge.

Originals of great Estonian authors and puppets and Portuguese films. The program; “Beyond the screen”, has as theme augmented reality (AR), with round tables, demonstrations and The MONSTRA on the loose throughout the city can be found with an application of AR. In the partnership between the Hot Club of Lisbon and MONSTRA we present two sound improvisational concerts, visual and movement, a dialogue between a Jazz Band and two animators who, live, will create sound and animation works.

The creation of difference will happen once again at this festival, in this MONSTRA.

We will, as always, give space to the creator and the observer. Freedom and creativity, sensations and emotions very diversified, because creation is the space of the transgression of emotion and because the Animation must be, in our opinion, a constant metaphor that goes beyond the mimetic or the simple copy of reality. We did not think, nor do we want, this festival (only) as a spare time or film presentation.

It will always be a space for dialogue, exchange, experimentation, rupture, transgression and subversion. Motivating and essential to avant-garde artistic creation. A humanist and meeting festival. From many to more and more. A Festival marked by the idea that Art is not only the mirror to reflect the world, but the essence for its transformation.

Fernando Galrito
(Artistic Director, MONSTRA)