Auteur Animation As Art

The Auteur Animation As Art PROJECT INSPIRES ALL-ROUND NON-STOP POSITIVE ATTITUDE and continues its journey…
The Auteur Animation As Art project (Avtorskaya Animatsiya Kak Iskusstvo, AAKI) was conceived at Khitruk Animation Art Academy two years ago as a way to popularize and innovatively promote Russian Auteur Animation. During this time, over thirty-seven thousand leading and young animators, viewers of all ages, friends and fans of animation from 20 regions of Russia have participated in the project. And still AAKI continues to move forward, transforming the country’s art spaces into cross-cultural Auteur Animation Art Presence Centres.

This joint effort resulted in the birth of an ever-evolving, unique, cross-cultural, socially significant living organism under the codename AAKI. It is impossible to give this phenomenon a strict definition. This is not a Festival, or a Forum, or a Club, or a Creative Workshop, it doesn’t just mean Exhibitions, or Performances, or Teleconferences, or Residencies, or Clusters, or Podcasts — it’s all of those together in the vast creative space of our massive country. AAKI’s geography is expanding every day, and the more remote regions are the most willing to join, because their young residents see AAKI as an open door to the world of real animation.

The success of AAKI lies in its cross-cultural scale and diversity of creative programs. Never before have so many focus areas been combined in one project, supported by an incredible number of Russian cultural luminaries. This symbiosis was created by the Academy in order to tell the Next generation about the vital things, the meanings, to share knowledge, and, among other things, to help young Russian animators enter the future of Auteur Animation.

Key focus areas of the project:
AAKI’s main (professional) line of focus is holding Art Residencies. An Art-Residency of the Academy is a one of a kind inspirational creative space where young talented animators who have passed a preliminary selection are given several days to jointly create a work of Art – an animated film – under the mentorship of master animators.
It all started in the summer of 2021 in the lovely town of Tarusa. Master Yura Boguslavsky led the FIRST Residency called Stop-Motion with the assistance of directors and teachers/mentors Vasily Chirkov, Ilya Yudovich, as well as composer and sound engineer Aleksandr Chirkov.
This joint creative process resulted in the creation of the world’s first mosaic film THE SKY HAS NO EDGE which subsequently received a Special Diploma at the XXVII Open Animated Film Festival in Suzdal (2022) in the Best Student Film category, inscribed “for poetry in stone”. The festival history of the film continues: in November 2022, it participated in two festivals at once: the Big Animation Festival (BFM) and Luchezarny Angel Festival.

The THIRD Residency, TOCHKA SBORKI (assemblage point), was held in September of 2022 in the Graphics House of the Union of Artists of Russia in suburban Moscow (Chelyuskinskaya Train Station). This Residency was hosted by the director Liza Skvortsova with assistance from Ivan Bondarenko (director, scriptwriter, graduate of School-Studio SHAR), Maria Savenkova (artist, graduate of Gerasimov institute of Cinematography), Viktoria Malechkina (graduate of School-Studio SHAR), and Aleksandr Chirkov (composer, sound engineer, AnimaTseh).
As Liza Skvortsova said in an interview: “I called the Residency ‘Assemblage Point’ so that, while creating an animated film together, both young animators and mentors could try to put themselves together from the inside, and maybe rethink something in their lives.”
The participants of the Residency created a 7-minute film Assemblage Point executed in a variety of techniques: graphics, etching, diatyping – pastel drawing, collage, combined with some virtuoso sound and light work. Two full-house premieres of the film were held in Moscow at the beginning of October.

The FOURTH Residency of the Academy was held at the end of October in Khanty-Mansiysk at the Arts Centre for Gifted Children of the North – a unique vocational boarding school which celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. The participants of the Residency were students of the Art Department of the school. The Residency was led by Oksana Cherkasova, a co-founder of Khitruk Academy, with the assistance of teachers/mentors A. Shipulin (director, animator, photography artist), D. Strizhov, and I. Khanzhin (directors, artists, graduates of the Ural State University of Architecture and Art).
Working together, the young artists and Ural animators created a film comprising two techniques (object and plasticine animation) unified by the common theme: an Animated Congratulatory Message on the Anniversary of the Arts Centre for Gifted Children of the North.

The Residency included premiere screenings of films by the Ural School of Animation, Open Creative Workshops and an interactive photo exhibition called the Masters’ Gallery. In total, over 600 students of the Arts Centre for Gifted Children of the North took part in the Residency.
The main focus area of the Auteur Animation As Art project for schoolchildren is establishing creative clusters that unite animation Schools and Studios, leading and young animators, friends and fans of animation. Hundreds of meetings have been successfully held by the Club in the cozy auditoriums of libraries, cinemas, museums, art schools, gathering thousands of grateful viewers who had a unique chance to see real animated films on a big screen. But the meetings of the Friends Clubs are not limited to watching and discussing films, there are also quizzes, flash mobs, and, of course, the beloved CHILDREN’S POSTMAN game giving each participant an opportunity to write a letter to the creators. The Academy receives hundreds of grateful letters in children’s handwriting. All letters have reached their addressees. Video responses of the creators to the kids (for whom this whole enterprise had been conceived in the first place) were recorded and sent to the Clubs.

The MUSEEMANIA interactive program, providing virtual tours of museums that hold the most interest for children, is being met with great excitement throughout the country. In dozens of libraries and children’s art schools in the most remote corners of the country, the kids were able to learn how characters come to life, as well as what and why is being showcased in various museums.
Another important branch of the AAKI project is the OPEN Creative Workshop (Otkrytaya Tvorcheskaya Masterskaya, OTM), which is (mainly) designed for those who may enter the world of professional animation in the near future, for students of Painting and Art Schools.

Open creative workshops have been held in the ART-spaces of Moscow and other Russian cities: the Engineering Building of the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian State Children’s Library, the Institute of Business and Design, the Palace of Culture of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, the House of Cinema in Yekaterinburg, the Arts School for Gifted Children of the North in Khanty-Mansiysk, etc. These were held by acclaimed animation directors: O. Cherkasova, M. Kurchevskaya, M. Aldashin, I. Kovalyov, M. Muat, A. Dyomin, E. Zhirkova, V. Olshvang, S. Andrianova, L. Skvortsova, N. Berezovaya, G. Golubeva, A. Karavaev, S. Merinov, D. Geller, and others.
A special video program about the Art of Animation, the Masters, and Animation Schools has been developed for Children’s Art Schools. Now young artists have the opportunity to communicate with famous Masters across several thousand kilometers, gain invaluable knowledge and recharge their creative optimism.

A separate branch of the AAKI activity is the cooperation of the Academy with the Russian State Children’s Library and the subsequent participation in all significant all-Russian projects and movements. It all started in December 2021 with the SNOW SHOW, at a meeting with children’s writer Elena Usacheva and director Maria Muat, the creator of the PCHELA animation studio who held an interactive masterclass and showed the children how puppet animation is created.

In June 2022, AAKI participated in the RED SQUARE Book Festival much beloved by Muscovites and guests of the capital. In a special pavilion of the Russian State Children’s Library, Aleksandr Tatarsky’s PILOT Studio masters N. Sokolova and the unsurpassed Master of plasticine animation S. Merinov held the BREATHING LIFE INTO FAIRY TALES workshop, where they talked to the audience about the styles, color schemes, techniques, music, images that combine a multitude of details, and the peculiarities of adapting Russian folk tales for the screen.

In August, the artistic director of the creative programs of the project, director Natalya Berezovaya, together with director Vladimir Zaitsev held an Open Creative Workshop titled WHO AND HOW CREATS CARTOONS TODAY at the second interregional book festival KITOVRAS in Vladimir.

The project also included AUTEUR ANIMATION PERFORMANCES which were timed to coincide with the celebration of the 110th anniversary of Russian Animation and took place in April 2022 in several Cultural Centres in Moscow. The viewers had the opportunity to watch auteur animation premieres on the big screen for 5 hours, discuss them, and converse with the Creators.
In October and November, a similar format of events for viewers of all ages titled “both DAY and NIGHT – ANIMATION – 5 hours of animation in one day” is taking place at Culture Houses and ART spaces throughout Russia. We invite amateur creative teams, youth associations, parents with children to participate in this program, because everyone needs to watch good cartoons. Animation has the ability to help and even to save!
In August of 2022, an exclusive MUSIC AND ANIMATION JAZZ PERFORMANCE event was held in the courtyard of the Ural Branch of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Yekaterinburg. The guests enjoyed the performance of selected pieces for toy piano by Alina Ezhakova accompanied by real-time animation from Anastasia Melikhova. Pieces by John Cage, Joseph Pearson, Eric Griswold, Jerome Kitzke were performed. Animated videos by Ural directors were shown on the screen. Vadim Chikuro – DJ, musician, vinyl collector – performed selected funk, soul, and disco compositions from classics to the present day, accompanied by real-time animation from Vadim Badyanov. The final treat came in the form of Anton Gutsal’s project DobroyNochi! and its ‘soft urban’ music – a warm, kind rock-n-roll with Russian lyrics. The enchanting sounds of jazz complemented the open-air big screen showing films by nation-famous children’s animation studios of Yekaterinburg; videos and cartoons by graduates and students of the USUAA, young directors Pasha Nikiforov, Valya Arkhipova, Vanya Khanzhin, Danil Strizhov, Anya Budanova, Natasha Chernysheva, Pasha Pogudin, Vadim Badyanov; All the films made at the Art Residencies of the Academy over the two years.

In the summer of 2022, AAKI took part in INSOMNIA – the X Open-Air Auteur Animation Festival. In the animation tent, guests and participants of the festival were shown films created during the Academy Residences. A Friends’ Club Contest was held in the children’s meadow – a cartoon intros competition specially prepared for the festival by the students of the Ural State University of Architecture and Art.

The MASTERS’ GALLERY, a unique interactive photo exhibition dedicated to the 110th anniversary of Russian Animation, comprised a major part of the project. The MultiExhibition has a convenient interactive format that allows you to go to the Academy’s website via QR codes, where you can not only check out the filmography of the authors, but also watch their animated films. In total, 45 Authors, 45 Filmographies, 45 Animated Films were presented. Norshteyn, Khitruk, Bardin, Tatarsky are all beloved parts of our childhood, but few of us know the faces of the creators of The Hedgehog In the Fog or the sleuthing Kolobki (the Pilot brothers)… And what about Fyodor Savelyevich Khitruk, who created our Winnie-the-Pooh and Boniface the Lion?
The photo exhibition introduces the audience to the Creators, talks about prizes and awards received at International Film Festivals. Truly honourable achievements!

Masters’ Gallery
From the beginning, the key part of the project was the creation of a permanent FORUM OF ANIMATION SCHOOLS and Children’s Studios, where important animation issues can be discussed. The Forum was initiated by the legendary School-Studio SHAR, founded almost 30 years ago by the classics of Russian animation F.S. Khitruk, E.V. Nazarov, Y.B. Norshteyn, and A.Y. Khrzhanovsky.
The large-scale cross-cultural project AUTEUR ANIMATION AS ART has already gathered over 37 thousand viewers in 20 regions of Russia; over a thousand creative meetings, film screenings, performances, and photo exhibitions have been held.

Studios participating in the project:
Master Film, SNEGA, Animos, Pilot, Pchela, School-Studio SHAR, A-Film, Ural Cinema.
Geography of the Auteur Animation As ART Movement:
Republic of Komi; Altai, Transbaikal, Krasnoyarsk, Primorsk, Stavropol, Khabarovsk Krais (Territories); Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug; Kursk, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Samara, Saratov, Sverdlovsk, Tomsk, Ulyanovsk, Chelyabinsk, Moscow Oblasts (Regions); Moscow