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flecha  Animayo Gran Canaria 2023 celebrates its coming of age in its 18th edition with a programme brimming with talent and premieres 03-05-2023

Animayo, International Animation, Visual Effects and Video Games Festival, the first and only one in Spain to be designated as "Qualifying Festival" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Hollywood for the Oscar® Awards in the Animated Short Film category, and since last year, also the only festival of its kind to qualify for Best Animated Feature in Spanish, announced its 18th edition, which will be held from May 3rd to 6th, inclusive, as well as an online phase that will take place from August onwards.

The Festival is coming of age "with the same enthusiasm and the same energy" as it did at its inception in 2006, as stated by its director and producer Damián Perea. With "a great deal of hard work and effort that makes perfect sense when I bump into young people at airports, for example, who come up to me and tell me that thanks to Animayo they have discovered their vocation and are now attending major universities in this field, or the time when I met a young woman who started out as a little girl at Animayo and is now working for a major visual effects studio".

Also at the press conference, Antonio Morales, President of the Gran Canaria Island Council, Animayo's main sponsor, pointed out that “without a doubt, it is this visionary character, [that of Damián Perea], which has allowed Animayo to celebrate its 18th edition and become an indisputable benchmark both in the Canary Islands and Spain, as well as worldwide. Animayo is a true privilege for Gran Canaria. The greatest training and employment showcase for the international audiovisual sector. We usually call it an emerging sector, but the truth is that it is a consolidated and exponentially growing sector. It is one of the film industry events that provides the most visibility for our island.”

On the other hand, Fernando Fernández, General manager of the La Caja de Canarias Foundation, pointed out the " great satisfaction it represents that the CICCA will once again become the official and main venue for a new edition of the festival, which we will host by lending all our rooms free of charge to the production company and providing all the necessary technical services, both material and human, for the implementation of its activities. Animayo has already become an animation benchmark for training and leisure, with young people eager to learn; a cultural and educational platform, which is also offered as a socio-economic resource, with a central role in the leisure, audiovisual, cultural and tourist offer of Gran Canaria and the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, thus adding a remarkable economic impact that generates sustainable growth.”

Already “of age”, “very happy and glad”, Perea expressed his gratitude to his collaborators and main sponsors pointing out that “the CICCA is a special place for me. We take up 'all' the venue and the truth is that it is the ideal place for us”. In the same fashion, he thanked the sponsorship of the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria City Council to the Councilor of Culture Ms. Encarna Galván who “has also accompanied us throughout these years, helping the Festival”. And he continued: “but above all I want to thank Antonio Morales, President of this Island Council, for his support and, most importantly, because he is a man of his word. Eight years ago he told me 'don't worry, we are going to do it and we are going to make it grow', and indeed it did. This Festival's growth is also a part of you”, he pointed out.

As far as the programme is concerned, the Festival director gave a preview of the highlights of Animayo's eighteenth edition, in which, in line with its main theme, training continues to play a leading role; "if we don't train the talent, there's no point in bringing the industries in". And to do so, more than 40 guest stars and keynote speakers in a line-up of artists and creators from national and international studios will be sharing their knowledge at the CICCA Centre in 14 on-site master classes, of 90 minutes each, 3 debates on artificial intelligence, the use of new technologies and women in the VFX industry, plus 5 workshops, of 240 minutes each, focused on practical learning of skills and abilities in the areas of animation, visual effects, video games, art and videomapping.

Among these guests, coming from countries such as the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, the Czech Republic, Canada, the Philippines, Denmark and Ukraine, in addition to Spain, and which Animayo will be revealing in full shortly, for the first time at a Festival in Spain will be Disney's living legend Andreas Deja, the animator behind titles such as "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "The Lion King", "Aladdin", "Beauty and the Beast" and "The Little Mermaid", whose latest work, "Mushka", will be screened for the first time in Spain at the CICCA, with Las Palmas de Gran Canaria being the second city in the world where it will be screened. This half-hour hand-animated independent film is set in the Soviet Union in the 70s, and features an adorable couple formed by the little girl Sarah and Mushka, a Siberian tiger, a history about love and sacrifice located in Russia. It is produced by the former Disney animator responsible for unforgettable characters such as Scar, Jafar, King Triton and Lilo.
Tributes and Premieres to blow out the candles for the Festival's 18th birthday, which will open with a Tribute to Claudio Biern Boyd for his career and contribution to the Spanish and international animation industry. Biern, who passed away last October, was a Spanish producer, scriptwriter, businessman, film director and animator, founder of BRB Internacional and Apolo Films. Another of the premieres in Spain at Animayo, as mentioned above, is the screening of the film 'Mushka' by Andreas Deja, his first short film as a director. Furthermore, the national premiere of the animated children's film "Mice and Foxes. A friendship from another world" (Even mice belong in heaven) by Jan Bubenicek and Denisa Grimmova, a film about two deadly foes: a little mouse and a fox, each of whom, following an unfortunate accident, meet in animal paradise. Finally, the premiere in Spain of the Making of 'The Peasants' by Dorota Kobiela. This novel by Wladyslaw Reymont is brought to the screen in the form of an animation of realistic, pre-impressionist paintings in the style of 19th century Polish painting.
Likewise, according to Damián Perea, Animayo Gran Canaria 2023 will include among its outstanding guests Bobby Chiu and Kei Acereda, the artists responsible for projects such as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Alice Through the Looking Glass", who will also be the stars of the European premiere of their Concept Art exhibition (at the CICCA venue), featuring a selection of more than 60 works displaying the creativity, talent and originality of these two outstanding digital and illustration artists, whose fantastic characters seem to come to life inside magical worlds that will enthrall the viewer. The Festival will also feature VFX producer and artist manager Signe Vinther, ("Rogue one. A Star Wars Story", "Star Wars: The Last Jedi", "Walking Dead", "Star Trek" or "Black Panther", among others); Borja Montoro, character designer, ("Space Jam: New Legends); "Klaus", "The Return of Mary Poppins"), Carolina Jiménez, Layout TD for film VFX, CG Artist, ("Joker", "Game of Thrones", "The Hobbit Trilogy"); Kateryna Ocheredko, illustrator and animator ("Loving Vincent"); Albert Barba Cunill, animation director, ("Luck", "Pets" "Pets 2", "The Grinch", "Gru 3: My Favourite Villain"). According to Perea, "these are just some of the relevant animators, producers, directors, VFX supervisors of titles such as "Game of Thrones" or "The Lord of the Rings", from companies such as Disney, Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar or Dreamworks, guest stars who "come to share their knowledge, pass on their experiences in a friendly way, teach and motivate the new generations"; professionals who walk around and mingle with the public attending the Festival, also taking part in autograph signings".

As far as participating production companies is concerned, Animayo Gran Canaria 2023 will have leading names in the sector such as Skydance Animation, Axis Animation, Redefine, Ghost Fx, Fortiche, Studio Nowake, BWater Animation Studios, Atlantis Animation, 3 Doubles Producciones, Amuse Studios, Mondo TV Studio, BMCaff Studio, and Anima Kitchen. All of these will be taking part in yet another fundamental part of Animayo, which is to provide real opportunities with its 'Professional Meetings' involving face-to-face Recruitments, subject to prior registration, in order to scout for talent and professional profiles. There are already many applicants from all over the Canary Islands, but also from cities such as Madrid and Barcelona, who will be attending these interviews. A Networking Zone will also be available to encourage exchange and opportunities between audiovisual sector professionals; a meeting between production companies, entrepreneurs and potential investors through activities aimed at promoting companies and projects in the animation industry all over the world. In addition, as an exclusive activity for the press, there will be a meeting with guest speakers, collaborating production companies and collaborating schools, as well as the "Animated Breakfast", a chance to meet some of the guests from the international industry featured in this year's edition.

In order to access these professional opportunities, it is essential for young students, parents and legal guardians to learn first-hand about the educational options available at top national universities and to discover the professions of the future. To this end, Animayo will be welcoming the 'Decide your Future' programme, which includes a wide variety of presentations ranging from the most artistic to the most technological careers, and which you can register to attend, as an educational centre or student, parent or guardian, by sending an email to animayo@animayo.com. The universities and schools involved in this programme are: U-Tad, Centro Universitario de Tecnología y Arte Digital, The Core Entertainment Science School, L'idem Barcelona, La Salle Universidad Ramón Llull, Reboot Academy, IED Madrid, LCI Barcelona and Escuela Artediez. All of them collaborating with the Festival, as well as: University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, University of La Laguna, School of Art of Gran Canaria, School of Art of Tenerife and School of Art of Fuerteventura. In addition, and along with young students' portfolio reviews, the 'Animayo Talent Grants' programme will offer over €500,000 to promote online and on-site studies at top national and international schools and universities. The call for applications is open until June 30th and can be applied for online via the Animayo website.

At this point, it is worth mentioning the importance of some of these collaborating schools, universities and production companies with their involvement in the development of various actions programmed in the 18th edition Animayo Gran Canaria. Schools and universities such as: U-tad, Centro Universitario de Tecnología y Arte Digital sponsoring guest stars such as animator, director and producer Andreas Deja (2 master classes: 'Mushka. How it was made' and the animation class "Journey of a legend"); the director and animation director Abraham López (master class "Animate Dragons and live to tell the tale"), and the freelance Character Designer Borja Montoro (master class "What's Character Design" and workshop). U-tad, Madrid, (Spain), is a center with cutting-edge technology and high practical character. Created by the founder of Ilion Animation Studios, recently acquired by Skydance Animation, U-tad is the university with the most awarded students (more than 100 awards in the last 5 years) in animation and videogames. The artists Carolina Jimenez, Layout TD for film VFX, CG Artist, Scanline VFX, (masterclass "The professional journey of VFX: From The Hobbit, Guardians of the Galaxy and Game of Thrones to Andor"), Kei Acedera, illustrator and graphic artist co-founder of Imaginisim Studios and Schoolism, (masterclass "Captivating images for film and animation", and Monica Garcia, Nuke Compositor (Nuke - VFX workshop), come sponsored by The Core School, Madrid, (Spain), a school of higher studies in film and television high performance with an integrated vision of audiovisual content and entertainment to unwrap yourself in real working environments. For its part, La Salle Barcelona, Barcelona (Spain), international university campus in Digital Arts, and Animation (among others), makes possible the intervention of Xavier Bové, image and sound engineer specialized in videomapping, who participates in the debate in the Panel / Debate The Future to come "VR, Metaverse, robotics, what does the future hold for us? and gives the workshop "Art and Videomapping. La Salle Barcelona uses technology to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, betting on applied research. More outstanding presences as Signe Vinther, VFX Producer and Artist Manager (master class "VFX of a production"), sponsored by L'Idem Creative Arts School, Barcelona (Spain), which under a dynamic educational model of quality provides higher education courses and international masters in 2D/3D Animation and Video Games and Digital Design with a single objective: the professional training of students and their successful incorporation into the world of work.

As far as production companies are concerned, Skydance animation, (Madrid. Spain), which offers "a dynamic, inclusive and constantly evolving culture where innovative ideas are welcomed and growth is encouraged. The partnership between unique creativity and technological advances is demonstrated in every pillar of the company," is sponsoring the master class "An Amazing Journey" by animation director Albert Barba.

Axis studios, (Glasgow, London), is a multi-award winning animation and visual effects studio: "we have built a worldwide reputation for creating original and commissioned entertainment experiences in film, television, games and theme parks. We create narratively engaging works in animated entertainment and VFX, to create and deliver innovative content of the highest quality that appeals to audiences around the world." From his hand the sponsorship of the master class "Christmas Classic - Scrooge: A Christmas Carol", by Senior 3D Animator Laura MacMahamon.

ReDefine. Also based in Barcelona, Spain, and with an integrated network of eleven studios in North America, Europe and India "Redefining the art of visual effects and animation, ReDefine brings a fresh and dynamic approach to the art of visual effects and animation for feature films, episodic and multiplatform content. As part of the DNEG Group, ReDefine leverages an incredible legacy of creative and technical innovation to service projects that are tailored to the requirements of each show." Sponsors the virtual-face-to-face VFX panel "Women in Creativity and Technology: Building a Career in VFX and Animation" by Clara Lopez, Urte Olsauskaite, Sala L. Reddy, Sumira Dhawan and Julie Kubblilun.

Japan's Celsys, Inc. is introducing Clip Studio Paint at Animayo, one of the largest market share painting and drawing application in the graphics software market, compatible with any smartphone, tablet or PC, which helps artists and creative studios draw and color animations, illustrations, comics, manga, concept art, characters and more. This software offers various tools, such as brushes, vector layers, color palettes, multiple perspective rulers and 3D shapes. Clip Studio Paint sponsors Concept Artist and Character Design Bobby Chiu ("Mastering Creature Design: Ideas and Techniques from Bobby Chiu") and his first Concept Art exhibition in Spain.

The screenings occupy an important place in the Festival. As Animayo is the first and only Festival in Spain to be designated as "Qualifying Festival" by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences of Hollywood for the Oscar® Awards in the Animated Short Film category, and since last year, also the only one of its kind to qualify for Best Animated Feature in Spanish, thus granting a direct entry to the shortlist for the Oscars®, the Festival will be screening 5 Official Competition Sections from May 3rd to 6th at the Guiniguada Theatre, both for subscribers and the general public. A selection of 60 short films as a result of an annual competition of more than 2,000 works of 2D animation, 3D animation, visual effects, experimental cinema, advertising pieces, animation spots, videoclips, video game cinematics and virtual reality. These short films from countries such as Spain, the United States, Germany, Norway, France, Hong Kong, Poland, Argentina, Uruguay and Australia will be divided into 4 Official Sections that will give rise to the Animayo 2023 Official Awards following the deliberations of the International Jury, this year chaired by the aforementioned Andreas Deja, and which will be part of the Animayo touring project.
Rounding off the offer, and also for subscribers and the general public, are the so-called 'The Two Rhombuses Night' and 'The Comedy Night', which will screen a selection of more intellectual and arty humour short films with a 'spicy' touch by the talented independent director and animator Bill Plympton.

Not to forget "Animayo Experience" (CICCA), where you can get to know talent booths, experiences and enjoy games in virtual environments. And, of course, Animayo also puts the youngest members of the family in the spotlight, because, as Perea pointed out, "they already know that this is a Festival that teaches them to see, to do and to have a critical mind, in which we strive to train the future public from a very young age, among whom the talents of tomorrow will undoubtedly be found". To this end, the 'Children and Family District' has been created, in which 'My First Festival' (especially for families) will once again be held on Saturday 6th May at the Guiniguada Theatre, with free admission until full capacity is reached. Aimed at children from 5 years old, as well as young people and adults who will be able to vote for the best animated short film for this edition from a selection of 11 international animated short films where the dissemination of social values such as solidarity, friendship, respect for traditions, the pursuit of dreams or fun will be promoted. In addition, on the 5th and 6th, at the CICCA, there will be art and new technologies workshops for the whole family.

Moreover, 'Animayo for Schools' is back, from May 3rd to June 30th, to be held in the schools themselves, with free admission upon prior request from the schools. More than 3,500 schoolchildren will take part in activities that will include screenings for elementary, junior high, high school, arts and undergraduate students. In addition, this programme also includes school masterclasses given by independent artists and creators from production companies or top-level schools and universities. These masterclasses are aimed at students in 4th year of junior high school, high school, arts and degree courses.

All in all, the 18th edition of Animayo, International Festival of Animation, Visual Effects and Video Games, has come of age with the best of programmes, once again placing the island of Gran Canaria and its capital, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, at the heart of the industry with a programme that is already being displayed through the winning poster of the Animayo 2023 International Poster Competition. Once again this year, the competition has shown that art as a natural expression of the human being is enhanced by technology, and that talent and creativity know no bounds. The winning entry that is the image of the 18th edition of Animayo is: "Friends we made along the way" by Polish author Ida Piotrowska. The work tells the story of an unusual encounter between a traveller and some curious little sprites who offer him guidance.

A total of 705 entries from 626 authors from countries such as Taiwan, Spain, Mexico, India, China, Poland, Turkey, Indonesia, Hungary, the United States, Germany and France, among others, were submitted to the competition. There was a notable parity in the number of entries from men and women, with the difference being limited to just over 10%, with women accounting for 44.8% of the total number of entries compared to 55.2% of men who entered the International Poster Competition. Regarding techniques, most of the participants, almost 60%, chose to use digital drawing software (Photoshop, Illustrator, both from the Adobe® package, Procreate or similar). 3D also had its place in more than 10% of the projects. Some entries were discarded for not complying with the rules and exceeding the percentage allowed for the use of artificial inteligence in the terms and conditions. 2D and mixed techniques (watercolours, oil painting, graphite) were used by almost 15% of the contestants. Photography and digital collage, with a somewhat more timid presence, also had their place.

Animayo was founded in 2006 in Spain, directed by Spanish director and producer Damián Perea, who created it "to give those opportunities that I never had when I started here, so it's a kind of healing of that inner child through all these young people", as he said at the recent press conference. The festival is currently a benchmark in the field of animation, with 17 years of positioning. It is an inspirational and motivational event, with 75% of educational content aimed at boosting creative development and audiovisual production.

Animayo establishes a network of contacts between animation film, VFX and videogame professionals and promotes the formation of a pool of young local talent, offering training content, the latest techniques and audiovisual tools.

Gran Canaria is known as a miniature continent due to the diversity of landscapes and ecosystems it offers in a relatively small space. But what really distinguishes Gran Canaria as a tourist destination for film fans is its privileged climate, with more than 300 days of sunshine a year, and its ability to offer multiple scenarios in a relatively short radius. From exotic beaches to deserts, laurel forests to modern cities, Gran Canaria has everything it takes to become a unique film location. All this, combined with the open, cosmopolitan and, at the same time, warm spirit of its people, makes it a favorite European destination for millions of travelers. Gran Canaria offers a unique combination of natural beauty, first-class tourist infrastructure, specialized services and varied scenery, making it an ideal destination for film lovers and industry professionals.

Offering both on-site and online formats, Animayo, from Gran Canaria (Spain), extends its programme to other cities and countries, in its "Animayo Itinerant" version, held in Los Angeles, Madrid, Barcelona, Lanzarote, Portugal, Czech Republic, Brussels, Chicago, Mumbai, Prague, Colombia, Belgrade and Korea.

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