by Marineta MAK Kritikou*

And, then, suddenly this year, though we had talked about it time and again during the previous year, the AnimaSyros+Agora Festival celebrated its 10th event.

With a formal opening on September 28th, the surprise goes beyond an anniversary event -an event celebrating the festival’s 10th birthday in Syros, in exact proper fashion; amazing films, awards, visual arts, the National Opera, retrospectives, the Head of the European Commission Representation in Greece’s Press Office, Klimentini Diakomanoli, sending messages of encouragement for a United Europe, and a taped greeting from the European Committee spokesperson, Margaritis Schinas.

The surprise goes beyond even AnimaSpyros, the festival’s cycladic-film buff mascot, who appears to be everywhere: In commemorative prints, on collectable stamps and philatelic packages in cooperation with the Greek Post Office, on local wine labels. AnimaSpyros daily drew audiences into parties where exchanges of ideas, advice, and business cards opened up new creative paths for all.

The surprise also goes beyond the truly spectacular Miaoulis Square concert, in front of the lovely Town Hall, held on the night of Sunday, October 1, after the closing ceremony.

Photo by Dionysia Kosti

For me, having been an active part of the Festival for so many years, the surprise is about this sneaky game that time is plays with our brains. When we are released from reality and our minds live in the likelihood of future dream conditions, resulting in a feeling of real time contracting.

That’s exactly what happened to me with AnimaSyros. Time went by unpredictably quickly, though when I recall all that I have experienced; the people I have met (as coordinator of and presenter at the Professional Forum, which in 2015 turned into the Agora); the movies I have enjoyed, and the knowledge I have gained over a time of just 50 days (this is the Festival’s actual length over 10 years); then I realize how special AnimaSyros is, how effective it has been for all of us who either had the good luck of collaborating with it, or participating as spectators, or as the hospitable inhabitants of Syros.

A short (!!) article is very little to stress how important all these creators, producers, institutional representatives, schools and studios are, as they have been visiting the island, thanks to AnimaSyros, from all over the world, turning the Cyclades into a creative animation network, with a plethora of great Greek artists within it.

However, in this article I will only be referring to the international participants whose presence honored and highlighted the institution, as I am sincerely impressed by the Festival’s radiance and its resonance over the years, in the international community of cartoon animation.

I am in fact wondering if it is the same AnimaSyros Festival that, after so many Hollywood auteurs’ and major American studios representatives’ attendance over the years, inspired and drew the attention of screenwriter and director Steven Bernstein, the American producer in charge of the initiative to build a Film School and a large cinema studio in Syros, set up to the highest Hollywood standards.

In addition, the official opening of this year’s Festival was the site of the initial official announcement, by Cyclades Deputy Regional Governor, Giorgos Leontaritis, that a bill providing a frame for supporting private investments towards the production of audiovisual works in Greece was passed by the Greek Parliament.

Photo by Dionysia Kosti

Even the aforementioned project’s initial presentation by the American creators was also made, four days before the official press conference in Athens, at the 10th AnimaSyros Festival on Sunday, October 1, in the presence of G. Leontaritis, director Steven Berstein, artistic director (including pictures like the 11 Academy Award winner, Titanic) Charles Dwight Lee, and Martin Meunier, facial animation designer for Coraline (a pioneer in animation).

*This article is part of a greater work, written by Marineta MAK Kritikou for www.ert.gr (Greek edition of the ERT website), and has been translated for this platform. It will be publised in two parts, with the second to follow.

The original complete version, in Greek, can be found here.