MONSTRA, the year of the centenaries, the year of Japan!
MONSTRA 2023 takes place under the sign of the centenaries.
Almost five centuries ago, 480 years to be precise, Portuguese sailors were the first Westerners to reach the coast of Japan by boat. Such an achievement was documented in various writings from history that eventually inspired many artists, including those in animation.
100 years ago, the illustrator Joaquim Guerreiro directed “O Pesadelo do António Maria”, the first known Portuguese animated film, and 100 years later, the first Portuguese nominated for the Oscars is an animated film.
100 years ago, Walt Disney Company was being created, and the American mastermind directed “Alice”, five years before introducing us to his most famous character, Mickey Mouse.
The arrival of our ancestors to the Land of the Rising Sun is the motto for MONSTRA to pay tribute this year to all the richness, emotion, fantasy and poetry of Japanese animation. A journey on screen that begins with the pioneers of animation in the country, from the beginning of the 20th century to the present day. There are 14 feature films and more than 50 shorts, with a highlight to the world premiere of a film made expressly for MONSTRA by Japanese youngsters, and presented with live music.
In this celebration, there is also room to meet the great Japanese masters: the Oscar-nominated Koji Yamamura, who, besides his films, will present an exhibition with 50 originals of four of his films and a masterclass; Maya Yonesho, who will come to MONSTRA to conduct an animation workshop; or the only Westerner to have a film produced by Ghibli Studios, the Oscar-winning Michaël Dudok de Witt, who, in addition to his “The Red Turtle”, presents a masterclass about the film and his work. To tell us about the history and magic of Japanese animation, we will also have the presence of the Japanese historian Ilan Nguyen, and Portuguese Cátia Peres, a specialist in Miyazaki. This adventure continues to contemporary times, with the new generation of Japanese animation and films from the universities of Tama and Tokyo.
And how can we not celebrate the centenary of national animation in a year when MONSTRA has the largest representation and highest number of Portuguese world premieres ever in the competitive sessions of the festival, a Summit dedicated to the history of national animation, and the animated film “Ice Merchants”, by João Gonzalez, being the first work by a Portuguese director chosen for the Oscars? In collaboration with Cinemateca Portuguesa, we celebrate this important moment in the festival’s programme and throughout all the months of 2023.
The tribute to the beautiful journey of animated cinema in Portugal extends beyond the screens through two exhibitions: one also at Cinemateca Portuguesa, dedicated to the beginnings of animation, with originals from the very first films, and of other masters; and another one at Museu da Marioneta, with the presentation of original puppets and sets from films in premiere: “The Time Keeping House”, by Joana Imaginário, “Pink Jacket”, by Mónica Santos, and the feature film “Nayola”, by José Miguel Ribeiro. These will be accompanied by originals of iconic films of Portuguese puppet animation, such as “A Suspeita”, “AXL Rose”, “Azeitonas”, “Das Gavetas Saem Sons”, among others.
The unique Portuguese language could not fail to be highlighted in this edition, with a special ANIMA CPLP programme: five programmes of short and feature films from six of the nine countries whose official language is Portuguese.
But MONSTRA is also competition: more than three hundred films are in the different competitive categories of MONSTRA and MONSTRINHA, with great films from almost a hundred countries — most of them national and world premieres.
There is also room in the programme for thematic sessions and retrospectives of great world authors, some with guaranteed presence for unique moments in masterclasses or workshops, such as Joan Gratz, Joanna Quinn, Les Mills, Michael Dudok de Wit, Koji Yamamura, Martin Smatana, Florence Miailhe, Maya Yonesho, João Gonzalez, José Miguel Ribeiro, Bruno Caetano, Nuno Beato, Lucija Mrzljak, Tal Kantor, among many others.
The German Raimmund Krumme is another of the guests coming to Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes to show originals of his films and intervene in the space with drawings made live on the gallery walls. Not to be missed!
The unmissable “Steamboat Willie”, where Walt Disney showed us Mickey Mouse for the first time, will be remembered in a MONSTRINHA session at Cinemateca Júnior.
As always, the relationship between moving images and enhanced reality is evoked, this time through the discovery of rhythm, sound and adventure in illustrations.
March is the month of MONSTRA. Once again with the best of Portuguese and world animation, and with the presence of the best directors and creators. A MONSTRA that celebrates centenaries but keeps its gaze on the future and an avant-garde programming as a manifest of moving images, thoughts and Art. And, my friends, Art is the best (perhaps the only) weapon that promotes encounter, construction, creativity, development, culture and knowledge.
For 12 days, which should inspire (at least) the next 100 years, we will celebrate Culture, and therefore Peace, through the art of Animated Cinema… join us!
Artistic Director of MONSTRA | Lisbon Animation Festival