Tekst (smal)

Kaboom: Artistic director Aneta Ozorek

SEE NL talks to Aneta Ozorek about the Dutch animation festival that was recently designated Oscar-qualifying status.

Portrait: Aneta Ozorek (source: CEE Animation)

Kaboom? Don’t expect artistic director Aneta Ozorek to share the secrets behind the name of the Netherlands’ most important animation festival, running 5-14 April in Utrecht, Amsterdam and online.

“If you don’t mind, this is the only question I would like to keep really still open,” Ozorek parries inquiries about the secret meanings of ‘kaboom.’ “We like the different reactions to this name in different cultures and countries.”

It’s five years since Kaboom exploded onto the Dutch scene, evolving out of the old Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) and KLIK Animation Festival in 2019. It’s known for its eclectic and wildly adventurous approach, what Ozorek calls “the ecletic mixture of experimental, VR, expanded animation [and] the more traditional storytelling. This is something we really enjoy to do. If you think about animation, it has so many faces: this mainstream powerful industry represented by the big studios but, on the other hand, there are lots of micro studios developing interesting pieces. We really try to represent the diversity of animation as a medium.”

Kaboom has just been chosen for the first time as an Oscar-qualifying event.

The director believes that being recognised by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in this way is bound to boost the visibility and prestige of the festival.

“We are super proud of that…and we’ve also just received the confirmation that we have also become a partner festival of the Annie awards,” Ozorek says of the annual prizes for excellence in animation organised by ASIFA-Hollywood. (These are often nicknamed as the “animation Oscars“) 

“This would never have happened without the hard work of the whole team who made sure we are delivering on the programming level and the organisational level,” Ozarek says of the increasing international recognition.

One theme being explored throughout the 2024 programme is: “what does home mean to you?”

“This seems like a very interesting question not only for animators but for all artists,” reflects Ozorek. “With global warming, the migration crisis, for many people home in the future will mean something completely different than in the past.”

Films in the programme touching on “home” range from the terrifying Chilean animated feature The Wolf House to the warm and reassuring opening film Chicken For Linda! from husband-and-wife team Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta.

“I can officially announce it. The shorts are not short anymore!” Ozorek observes of the increasing length of the films shown in the short programmes. Some of these last for 20 minutes or more. That means there are fewer films, and some “diamonds” may have been left out, but the quality remains as high as ever.

The pandemic may thankfully be in the rear-view mirror but Kaboom is remaining a hybrid event. One key reason for screening a selection of titles [not features] online is to ensure that those not able to travel to the cinemas in Utrecht and Amsterdam for “health or medical” reasons can still see the films. It is all about making the festival more “inclusive.” 

Ozorek, though, still insists that for certain titles, among them, Chinese director Xiaopeng Tian’s “visually stunning” competition title Deep Sea, “watching them on the big screen is an absolute must.”

The Polish artistic director has had a colourful career working as a “multidisciplinary” curator in Sweden and Germany before coming to Kaboom. She has multiple interests but eventually decided to specialise in animation, her “passion.”

After a couple of Covid-affected editions, Kaboom posted strong audience figures last year. The hope now is that the momentum will continue but it’s not just the public who come to the festival - this is also now an important event for professionals and young talents who flock to the two-day industry programme.

“We are putting on the table the relevant questions that will help grow the Dutch animation industry,” Ozorek says of one of the main missions of Kaboom, the festival “where everybody is welcome.” 

Find more info on Kaboom here.