More than a thousand guests watched the ceremony of the first year of the Emile European Animation Awards in Lille, France on the 8th of December 2017. This extraordinary event was attended by the top names in contemporary European animation – especially those from Western Europe. Czech films were represented in the audience by member of the Association of Animated Films Libor Nemeškal. However, none of our favourites were shortlisted.

A total of sixteen awards were presented in various categories. The award for best feature film was received by Claude Barras for his film “My Life as a Zucchini” (“Ma vie de Courgette“). Other significant works of European animation did not leave the ceremony empty-handed either, for instance: “Red Turtle” (La Tortue Rogue, dir.: Michael Dudok de Wit) won the awards for best character animation and best storyboard. The star of the TV series category was the special Revolting Rhymes (dir.: Jan Lachauer, Jakob Schuh); The Amazing World of Gumball received one award as well as the fifth series of the popular children’s show Shaun the Sheep. Richards Williams gained special recognition and a standing ovation when presented with the Lotte Reiniger Lifetime Achievement Award by Christophe Erbess, host of the night.

We’ve asked Libor Nemeškal (ASAF member, Kouzelná animace Studio) about the ceremony, the methods of nomination and the reasons behind it.

How was the gala evening?

Although this was only the first year of the award, one could see the immense effort behind it and the enormous budget that the organizers managed to gain this year, mostly from private sources. The evening had a truly grand feel to it.

Which Czech pictures were among the nominations?

We had several irons in the fire, and relatively strong ones, such as Michal Žabka’s short film Christmas Ballad or Kateřina Karhánková’s Plody mraků (“Fruits of Clouds”). The entry of internationally successful student films like Prebudzač (“The Awakener”) by Filip Diviak or the Oscar-nominated Happy End by director Jan Saska looked hopeful too. The feature film Lichožrouti (“The Oddsockeaters”) by Galina Miklínová had a certain chance of success as well, however the competition was truly strong in this category.

Why do you think our films were not shortlisted?

Only three films in each category went on to the finals from the pre-selection. It’s definitely due to the quantity of production – 90% of the contestants came from Western Europe, which produces many more animated works. Logically then, there is enough for them to choose from. Countries like France or the UK entered some 50 works into each category, while we had only one …

Then there are the budgets, which are on a completely different level in Western Europe. This is especially obvious with feature films, where the financial background is reflected in various elements like music, dramaturgy, editing and script.

Despite all that, can you still see hope for us succeeding next time?

The first year was very much focused on Western Europe; for the upcoming year there is an effort to change the situation and have not only more contestants from Central and Eastern Europe entering the competition, but also have their representatives sitting on the juries. In the CEE region, animation is still very much alive – we just need to strengthen awareness about our work. By involving it in the Emile Awards it should become a Europe-wide award. There should also be greater diversity in the proportion of male and female jury members; this year was really rather masculine and it showed in the selection of films, I’d say.

Did you find the unsuccessful Czech participation in the first year disappointing or inspiring?

It certainly did not take away our motivation for the following years – on the contrary! For the upcoming European Animation Awards (Emile) we’re preparing more intense collaboration and a more comprehensible selection of Czech nominations for each category. These activities are to be carried out by the newly established Czech Animation Council, an informal association initiated by ASAF and the Anifilm Festival. Its aim is to give interested professionals the opportunity to see and assess new Czech animated works and to make films available to the Czech community so that Czech producers know our current work. We believe that a similar selection system (4 categories copying the Emile Awards categories) will make the selection of Czech candidates easier, thus increasing their chances of success.

We will come back to this topic in more detail in one of our future contributions.

Official website:

Photographs from the Ceremony (Lycée Jean Rostand, Eva Sénéchal & Florine Maitre):

Article on the Ceremony in Variety:

Video footage of the winners‘ speeches: