While Ukraine was electing a new parliament, the international animated film festival Krok-2007 was electing winners from among the 157 productions submitted from 44 countries. The jury was headed by Igor Kovaliov, former resident of Kyiv, today a US citizen, who has won every kind of creative award.
There was an unusually warm, friendly, and inspiring atmosphere at this festival. Like in the theater saying that “everything begins in the cloakroom,” KROK began when the ship Taras Shevchenko was boarded. All the cabin doors were flung open hospitably, and downstairs at the reception desk old friends and festival newcomers were getting to know each other. Yurii Norstein, barefoot as usual whenever he’s on a ship, greeted Eduard Nazarov and his dachshund. While Kovaliov welcomed his former Pilot Studio colleagues, Yelena Kasavina was looking around for the kids with whom she will be appearing in Krok’s traditional animated production this year. A serious-looking Natalia Lukinykh and Valia Telegin good-humoredly introduced a new family member, a Shelton Sheepdog named Havryk. The tiny Japanese Sayoko Kinoshita was smiling and trying on this year’s Krok hat. The colorful Ivan Maksimov had his own multilingual audience of young people with whom he was discussing future discotheques.
A festival has no time to gain momentum gradually. In addition to the compulsory program of productions that lasted more than 20 hours, those on board the Taras Shevchenko had to screen the even longer Hors Concours program. It consisted of retro screenings, productions made by jury members, master classes, an ASIFA collection (Japan, no. 1), nine French cartoons, and several special events. Once again viewers were enchanted by Volodymyr Dakhno’s Cossack Games series and their favorite heroes created by Davyd Cherkasky, and smiled along with Yevhen Syvokin, the teacher of many of the festival participants. They enjoyed the animated productions of the famous Hubley Studio, a family affair, which are now become classics.
The special program consisted of two documentaries. In The Spirit of Genius Swiss director Otto Alden reverently addresses the creative work and complex destiny of Feodor Khitruk. The second documentary was the fourth film from Sergei Kapkov’s Miracle Factory series. Continuing the refined style of the previous three series, the director dwells on the secrets of the cartoonists’ profession, which probably has the lowest number of practitioners. The heroes of his film, masters of color, figures, pencils, and clay, share the secrets of their trade.
This time the resourceful Larysa Maliukova turned the traditional press conferences into coffee breaks with the film directors. The result was a livelier atmosphere, but there were no fewer questions. It turned out that it was simply easier to communicate and trade jokes over coffee.
But the guests also had to show their faces and mingle with others at the Re-Animation Club. Sightseeing tours were organized to ancient Chersonesos (Kherson), Rybalsky Island tucked away in the Chersonesos reed beds, and the famous Zaporozhian island of Khortytsia. Another must was creating a carnival costume and preparing a number. The Museum of Pictorial Arts was the theme of the Krok carnival, another opportunity to simply mingle.
A literary soiree took place spontaneously, much to the delight of the festival participants. Isaac Mageton recited his “almost Odesa- like” short stories; Ihor Irteniev read excerpts from his new book Alla Bosart, and Vadym Zhuk “sang” his version of Wedding with a Dowry.
The general sadness caused by the premature and unjust death of the Ukrainian film director Oleksandr Tatarsky turned into a warm, friendly tribute — with a touch of humor — during the memorial evening dedicated to his memory. This event was a great success, not only because many people offered affectionate and respectful tributes but also because the festival organizers launched a dialog among Tatarsky’s friends, supporters, colleagues, and other people who remembered and loved him. This is a dialog with no end. For little Mykhailo Tatarsky this was his first Krok festival experience, his first sea voyage, the first time he could swim in the sea, and his first visit to the country where his father was born. Mykhailo became a full-fledged member of the festival, where for the first time the boy approached the mystery of creating animated films as he took part in the production process and basked in the love and attention of the festival community. May he have many more opportunities to take part in the Krok festivals!