AniMela: India's Inaugural AVGC-XR Festival Illuminates Talent with over 3,000 Attendees

Entertainment | January 25, 2024 | News

AniMela AVGC-XR festival

Mumbai’s National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) transformed into a haven of creativity and innovation with the debut edition of AniMela - India’s first-ever international Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming, Comics and Extended Reality (AVGC-XR) festival - brought forth by Aniverse & Visual Arts Foundation (AVAF). From January 19 2024 to 21 January 2024, AniMela was a unique stage for local and international artists, animation filmmakers, game developers, and storytellers to converge, collaborate, network, showcase their work and contribute to the growth of the dynamic AVGC-XR scene.

The AVAF partnered with the Government of India (Information & Broadcasting Ministry) and the Annecy International Animation Festival in France to bring AniMela to Mumbai. The festival witnessed an overwhelming 3000 attendees flock to the venues across the span of 3 days. Some of the biggest names in the AVGC-XR and other related spaces also graced the festival with their presence.

The festival kicked off with a grand opening ceremony that saw guests like Shariq Patel (Head of Zee Studios), Ashish Kulkarni (Chairman of FICCI for Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics Forum), Jaya Bachchan, Fernando Heredia Noguer (Consul General of Spain in Mumbai), JeanMarc Sere-Charlet (Consul General of France in Mumbai), Chaitanya Chinchlikar (VP, Whistling Woods International) and Saeed Akhtar Mirza in attendance. It commenced with its first day at the New Excelsior Theatre in Fort with the screening of Sultana’s Dream, an internationally acclaimed animated film.

Several workshops, panel discussions and masterclasses with Indian and international industry stalwarts provided glimpses of work-in-progress and behind-the-scenes of prominent animation and VFX projects like RRR and Bahubali, amongst many others. These included sessions on character designing, a phonotrope workshop, a pixilation masterclass, a workshop on navigating the animation film market, showrunners workshop (creating TV series in 30 minutes), a panel discussion on making indie VFX and animation films in India, and much more. Students from schools across India, like the NID, Ahmedabad, Srishti Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Bengaluru, Whistling Woods International, Mumbai, and Rubika Pune, participated in these sessions.

To truly celebrate the industry and give attendees a holistic, enriching experience, AniMela also screened an extraordinary array of international award-winning animation features and short films from across the globe - from the USA and Canada to France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland to Hungary, Slovakia to Japan. The world premiere of Lucky Dog was a house-full session with its director Ujwal Nair and producer Indou Theagrajan engaging in a post-screening Q&A, while Bart de Jong, Consul General of the Netherlands, presented a short film collection at the Diversity & Identity: Dutch Shorts Programme.

Accompanying this cinematic visual treat was the experiential zone, where attendees interacted with various immersive worlds through VR and AR. The attendees experienced watching films in an immersive 360-degree VR at the 360° Dome. The Indie Comix Fest x AniMela, a curation of Indian Indie comics with artist meets, was buzzing, with attendees crowding the booths and buying comics created by the artists. And for those who wanted to take a break from workshops and films, there was a PlayStation booth!

Kireet Khurana, Festival Director, AniMela said, “While many events exist that promote mainstream OTT or video gaming work, it is rare for them to give independent makers from the AVGCXR space a mainstream voice or a platform. However, AniMela is a platform for indie talent in the AVGCXR scene. And it was heartening to see how every artist was happy to be here because they were given a platform to showcase their talent. We need to raise awareness about India’s amazing talent, and I believe AniMela has managed to do just that over four days. I hope this continues.”

Neha Jain, Executive Director, AniMela said, “I definitely believe that AniMela 2024 has been a resounding success! We wanted the visitors to come and feel the energy of the place and participate in the various sessions, workshops and activities, alongside watching the films we screened throughout the day - and what we saw happening was just that! The sessions were full, the films were being talked about, there were new friendships made over chai and workshops! The support and response we received have been incredible, further reconfirming our vision and faith in AniMela. I am eagerly looking forward to its next edition, where we plan to have a lovely children’s section of cinema and masterclasses for our youngest visitors!”

Anne Doshi, Artistic Director, AniMela said, “So much learning happened at AniMela. The MIFA campus was an amazing learning experience for the participants as well as those present during the pitch. The energy in the room was incredible, with the participants’ efforts and passion behind their projects and their earnest desperation to reach out to a larger audience palpable for all to see. And what we saw was that there is an audience for their work! I believe this is just the beginning and will only grow bigger and bigger!”

AniMela was a unique stage for local & international artists, animation filmmakers, game developers & storytellers to converge, showcase their work & contribute to the growth of AVGC-XR scene.

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