Meet the members of our Grand Jury!
Meet this year’s Grand Jury, which decides the winners of the Main Competition Programme and the VR Competition Programme. This year we are again extremely proud of our jurors, Portuguese “animation poet” Alexandra Ramires, South African charcoal storytelling master Naomi van Niekerk, Austrian “sustainable animation” artist Nikki Schuster, South Korean animation star Dahee Jeong and Romanian Anim’est Festival Programme Director Mihai Mitrica.
What did the members of this year’s Grand Jury have to say about the role of the jurors?
More about this year’s jury members below.
Dahee Jeong is a South Korean animation director. After earning a degree in Communication Design in Seoul and a stint in advertising, she relocated to France to study animation at the ENSAD in Paris at the graduate level. Her first film, Man on the Chair (2014), was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival and won the Crystal Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. The Empty (2016) has been screened at over 100 film festivals around the world, and won 17 awards. Movements (2019) was presented at the Directors’ Fortnight of the Cannes Film Festival. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and teaches in the department of Visual Communication Design at Hongik University.
Mihai Mitrică is a co-founder and the director of Animest, an animation film festival based in Bucharest. Animest is the only Oscar-qualifying film festival in Romania, with follow-ups and special editions in various cities of Romania and the Republic of Moldova.
Mihai is a short film curator and programmer for various international festivals, his main areas being animation, Romanian short film and horror film in general. He curates animation programmes for international festivals, promotes Romanian cinema in markets such as Annecy and Clermont-Ferrand, and has been invited as a jury member in festivals around the world.
Since 2014, Mihai has been a freelance producer of animated short films, working with some of the best representatives of the new generation of local animators. His most recent production with Safe Frame Studios, Cradle (directed and animated by Paul Mureșan) has been selected in over 100 international festivals.
Naomi van Niekerk
Naomi van Niekerk is a visual artist, animation filmmaker and theatre director. Her filmography includes a series of short films of haunting poignancy and power based on sensitive interpretations of stark, South African poems that speak to her. Her films have been screened globally and received widespread international acclaim such as the ‘Jean-Luc Xiberras’ Award at the Annecy International Film Festival for An Ordinary Blue Monday. Her practice as a visual artist involves the reworking of images as etchings and linocuts as an attempt to prolong the experience of a film or theatre piece and to give a glimpse into the pre-production, a process that involves an elaborate exploration of visual elements to create narrative. She teaches workshops on puppet-making and animation during which she guides authors to manifest their ideas by breathing life into objects.
Alexandra Ramires has been working in animation since 2009. In 2013, she arrived in Porto to work in the animation studios of the production company Bando à Parte, which later became a cooperative – BAP Animation Studio – of which she is a founding member. In her professional career, she has worked on several international award-winning films. Água Mole (2017), co-directed with Laura Gonçalves, is her first animation film. Elo (2020) is her first film as a solo director. Both films have had a great national and international run at festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Animafest Zagreb, winning around 50 awards.
The animation film and sound artist Nikki Schuster, born in Austria 1974, lives and works in Berlin. In 2001 she found her animation label “Fiesfilm”. Her award-winning films have been screened at numerous international film festivals such as the Sundance Filmfestival 2019, Anifilm Třeboň (Best Non-narrative and Experimental Film), the 2017 Tricky Women (Best Austrian Animated Film), the Crossing Europe Linz 2019 (Innovative Award), the Berlinale Generation 2012, as well as in exhibitions. In addition to producing her own films, she works as a motion designer and conducts workshops for animated filmmaking. She received artistic scholarships to work in Paris and Buenos Aires (2010), in Taipei (2012), in Cochabamba, Bolivia (2014), in Mexico (2015, 2016, 2017, 2023), Havana, Cuba (2018) and Tehran (2019).