Genesis and Growth of HAFF

Genesis and Growth of the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF): A Concise Survey of Critical Conditions

Peter Bosma - June 2015
What are the critical conditions for animation film festivals to be able to function as a key factor in the circulation of films and influencing the construction of reputations? Gi%u017Cycki (2012) answers this question in a case study of Animator International Festival of Animated Films(Pozna%u0144, Poland). Kinoshita (2012) gives a review on the origins and development of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival and Rüling (2009) discusses the history of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market.
These reflections are applied to a historical-institutional case study: the genesis and growth of the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF). This event has functioned already for three decades successfully in Dutch film culture and also gained early recognition in the international animation film festival circuit. Between 1985 and 2015 seventeen editions of the HAFF were held. Analysis of internal sources and external reviews connected to this trajectory reveals the existence of several curatorial choices and dilemmas for the festival staff, especially how to safeguard the artistic identity and simultaneously adapt their event to altering circumstances.

Animation film has dazzling many faces. It could be indicated as an autonomous domain of visual arts, but also as a peculiar niche in the cinema industry and a distinctive part of film art. The essays in Beckman (2014) give a historical and theoretical overview of the many aspects of animation film. In my view, the distinguishing feature is that each animation film actually starts from scratch, because every empty film frame is patiently filled with constructed images, either digitally or manually. Other filmmakers have to deal with recordings of live action, whereas animators have to face the intimidation of an empty canvas.
In the digital age, animation film has become a dynamic concept in transition. Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) made it possible that animation is widely applied on new presentation platforms, offering both a new challenging mode of expression and an entry to the booming business market of interactive audiovisual design. Wells and Hardstaff (2008) give an early overview of this ‘changing face of the moving image’. Animation has expanded into a multifunctional screen based art, widely applied in all kind of computer games and various apps. A new perspective is opened up by the progress of Virtual Reality technology (such as Occulus Rift, Project Morpheus, or Windows Holographic).
To start a film festival dedicated to precisely this small niche of very diverse film production is easily justified, but difficult to realize. To give such an initiative a stable continuity is an even more difficult task. In this article, I will sketch the genesis of the Holland Animation Film Festival, seen from a curatorial point of view.
1. A Program of Research
Each film festival is unique, with its own character and historical background. A film festival offers a dynamic meeting where the current state of affairs temporarily crystallizes. Festivals are key factors in the circulation of films and also influence the construction of reputations of directors and their films in a significant manner (De Valck 2008, 19). Reflection on critical conditions of the genesis and growth of film festivals is therefore essential to map the mechanisms of power in film culture. But how could we do this?
In my view, the concept of ‘art worlds’ offers a useful frameworkto analyze these lines of power relations. American sociologist Howard Becker combined the approach of philosopher George Dickie and art critic Arthur C. Danto to build the theoretical foundation for his now-classic book Art Worlds (1982). Becker argues that behind every artwork lies a layer of necessary conditions of assistance, support, collaboration and cooperation that allow it to come to fruition. This could be supplemented by also identifying a range of conflicts, constraints, rivalry and competition. Creating art involves a more or less coherent connection between many interacting parties and forces. Becker calls this complex configuration an ‘art world’.
Applied to our field of investigation, it means that a festival staff needs to foster a collaboration among a large network of stakeholders, consisting of funders, sponsors, politicians, filmmakers, sales agents, distributors, theater owners, programmers, film critics, volunteers and audience members. How can we evaluate this collaboration (and collusion) in the past, present and future? Recent academic research increasingly investigates the historical and contemporary institutional contexts of film festivals. The institutional context includes the various options and constraints within the areas of production, distribution and exhibition. You can translate these options into three different types of research questions: Which historical developments could be distinguished? What effect would these developments have on the film culture of today? Which perspectives are there to be discerned in times to come? In this article I focus on the specific question of what would be justified criteria to assess the curatorial policy of animation film festivals, specifically the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF). This is, in other words, an attempt to formulate an evaluative template for curatorial choices that could then be applied to other (animation) festivals.
Media historians face an alluring general research topic, when they explore diachronic developments in the network of international animation film festivals. Their research starts with assembling documentation about the details of these events and their environment. In the ideal case it leads to a plausible explanation of various decisions, reactions, evaluations, and impact connected to them. Following this line of thought, there are more detailed research questions to be posed: What are the specific characteristics of festival attendanceand audience experience through the years, within the conditions of social, cultural, political, economical and spatial contexts? Which different forms of presenting films at film festivals have existed and how did these curatorial practices function? What kind of changes, innovations or recurrent issues could be observed? Why is it that a certain festival becomes more famous, or has more social impact than others?
There are a lot more questions to pose, but for the sake of brevity I limit myself here to the exploration of the critical success factors of curatorial policies. My focus is to determine which artistic choices were made to compose the program of a film festival edition, and what response it evoked by professionals, peers, press and audience. This leads to the question in which way we can assess the artistic reputation of an animation film festival. In the growing corpus of publications in the field of ’film festival studies’ this specific research challenge has already received firm international attention. The research on animation film festivals started a long time ago rather timidly with incidental inventories such as Edera (1997), but got more volume and scope in recent years. Therefore, I first investigate the existing literature on programming animation film festivals. Thereafter I explore the case study of curating the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF).
2. The Arena of International Animation Film Festivals
In his contribution to Ruoff (2012), artistic director Marcin Gi%u017Cycki of Animator International Festival of Animated Films(Pozna%u0144, Poland) discusses the current state of affairs in the arena of animation festivals. He advocates a curatorship aimed at lining up an open-minded and artistically daring festival program. As a starting point of his argument he gives a brief and personal review of the history of animation festivals. He marks the year 1960 as the beginning, evidenced by the first edition of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, initially a program section of the Cannes Film Festival. More than fifty years later Annecy remains a big player in this field in his view, along with the International Animation Festival Hiroshima (Japan), Anima Mundi (Brazil) and Cinanima (Espinho, Portugal).
Gi%u017Cycki also identifies the emerging new animation festivals on the Internet, which have formed their own circuit. The established animation festivals traditionally focus on the presentation of screenings in movie theaters. Many international animation festivals limit their selection to a safe choice of traditional author movies. In this way they ignore the new developments in the field of experimental non-narrative films. According to Gi%u017Cycki, these traditional festivals lose sight of an innovative sector that stretches the definition of animation. As positive exceptions to this general trend he mentions the Melbourne International Animation Festival and Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF). I take this as an endorsement of my choice for HAFF as a worthwhile case study of best practices of reputed curatorship.
Critical Success Factors
To measure the intrinsic artistic value of any cultural event is a difficult task. As a consequence, the cautious identification of what could be considered as the critical success factors in the arena of animation film festivals is an essential issue. An insightful answer comes from festival director and producer Sayoko Kinoshita (2012), offering a review on the origins and development of the biennial International Animation Festival Hiroshima that already for a long time has been widely recognized as an event with a great international reputation. She and her husband Renzo Kinoshita started as idealistic filmmakers in the 1970s, gaining success with their animated documentary Pica Don (1978) about the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, among other films. Together they initiated the International Animation Festival Hiroshima in 1985. She starts her account of the critical success factors for an animated film festival with an external marker of recognition of quality, namely the formalized international recognition from ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d’Animation, founded in 1960). The first edition of the Hiroshima festival was the fifth international animation festival that was recognized by this institution. The other four festivals were the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, the Zagreb World Festival of Animated Film in former Yugoslavia, the Varna World Festival of Animated Film in Bulgaria and the Ottawa International Animation Festival in Canada. She cites as further success factors the reputation of the international jury and the status of the winners of various competitions. She also considers key figures such as the number of films submitted and the number of visitors as significant criteria.
Another approach of identifying critical success factors appears with Rüling (2009), who observes film festivals from an organization theory perspective using a mixture of concepts from management studies and sociology. He observes the major film festivals as ‘field-configuring events’. In other words, he focuses on analyzing film festivals as arenas of film professionals, to be considered as a dynamic forces that respond to external impulses, but also actively influence the film industry agenda. He summarizes the development of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market as follows: ‘From its initial role of contributing to the institutionalisation and recognition of artistically oriented animation, it has subsequently opened up to actors and contributions from other geographic regions [-]. It has welcomed new forms of distribution [-] and new technologies and business models [-]’. (2009, 50).
He substantiates and expands this general characterization by implementing a temporal segmentation, distinguishing three main development phases. In this way, he sketches a concise institutional history of the Annecy festival, indicating an evolution starting from a community focus, changing into a showcase event and ending as foremost an industry actor. Rüling (2011) further elaborates this historical overview of the Annecy festival.
My investigation of the analysis of two best practices of animation film festivals with a firmly established international reputation provides a provisional list of criteria for assessing the artistic value of animation film festivals. A short recap: Kinoshita (2012) indicates two quantitative factors (the number of films and number of visitors) and three qualitative factors (international recognition from ASIFA, the status of the international jury members and the award-winning directors). Rüling (2009) distinguishes five dimensions for an assessment of the success of an animation film festival: contribution to institutionalization and recognition of this subset of film art; exploring new geographic regions, new forms of distribution, new technologies and new business models within this specific field. Gi%u017Cycki (2012) underlines the importance of incorporating new technologies.
Below I explore the application of these critical success factors of curating international animation film festivals by sketching the outlines of a qualitative, historical institutional research of a specific case study: the genesis and growth of the Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF) in Utrecht. From the start, this event functioned successfully in Dutch film culture and also gained early recognition on the international film festival circuit. Between 1985 and 2015, 17 editions of the HAFF were held. Analysis of internal sources and external reviews connected to this trajectory reveals the existence of several choices and dilemmas for the festival staff. How could they justify their choices and safeguard the artistic identity they sought, and simultaneously respond appropriately to altering circumstances? To answer this question requires sketching in the basic historical facts of this trajectory in more detail. What choices did the festival staff make, which artistic identity did they seek, which altering circumstances did they confront?
3. The Development of Holland Animation Film Festival (HAFF)
In order to get a grip on the history of HAFF, the festival timeline can be divided into three periods. Roughly, this temporal bracketing includes a phase of starting up (1985-1992), growth (1994-2008) and the challenge to sustain continuity (2009 until today). I give a brief digression about the particular details of this segmentation, before I turn to a short discussion of the curatorial policy of HAFF.
The first period (1985-1992) can be called the pioneering years of HAFF. Initially a small event, HAFF took place every two years in the fall. It was started and carried out by among others animator Gerrit van Dijk and a young student, Gerben Schermer, who entered as a trainee and eventually became the festival director until today. From the beginning many animation filmmakers and artists participated in the production of festival leaders and festival posters, Dutch graphic designer and cartoonist Joost Swarte most prominent among them. There was also a close and friendly cooperation between HAFF and the Dutch professional organization Vereniging Holland Animation (Holland Animation Association). HAFF employees were involved in the management of this association and vice versa. Nevertheless, the festival succeeded throughout the years to be a balanced hybrid of a trade-oriented industry gathering and a public event.
In the pioneering years four festival editions took place – biennially in 1985, 1987, 1989 and, with a delay of one year, 1992. During these years, the festival occurred in just two screening rooms (49 and 80 seats) of a small non-commercial cultural center, ‘t Hoogt, located in a 17th-century building in the center of Utrecht. A third auditorium, initially used as a theater stage, was transformed in 1991 into a 126-seat cinema. In later years, HAFF also used additional screening rooms in a nearby commercial cinema.
For the first edition of 1985, the festival budget consisted of 25,000 guilders (11,344 €). Circa 200 films were screened, including a program of Chinese animation and a selection of 19 new animations from the Netherlands and Belgium. In the following years these figures increased steadily. In 1992, at the fourth edition, the count stood at more than 400 entries and 300 selected films. In that year, a contribution of the Prince Bernhard Fund made it possible to produce a professional festival catalogue. The pioneering years ended in 1992, because in 1993 HAFF became an independent foundation, responsible for its own administration and funding.
The Turn to Continuity
Almost from the beginning HAFF was connected to CARTOON, the support program of the European Union for the promotion of animation films. One of the results was the establishment in 1991 of the Cartoon d’Or, the European Film Award for animated short films. HAFF also strategically collaborated with other European festivals, for instance in 1992 with the animation festival of Stuttgart, Germany to present a survey program of animated films from the former Soviet Union.
Locally, HAFF collaborated with the Dutch Film Festival (established in 1981 and held each year in September). From the early 1990s onwards, good cooperation also existed with the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) and the Department of Theatre, Film and Television Studies at the University of Utrecht, with lectures on animation and many trainees of this discipline. Peters (1995) describes the pioneer phase and the turn to gaining a solid continuity of HAFF in more detail.
The second period (1994-2008) is characterized by a growing recognition of HAFF. In this time span eight biennial editions were organized between 1994 and 2008, in the fall. Reflecting on the 1994 edition, festival director Gerben Schermer stated: ‘The festival is a four-day-long party for animation fans, but for me, the party is only a success if it starts something rolling and has a concrete significance for animation film’ (Den Draak 1995, 47). In this way he made it clear that he firmly remained faithful to his initial aim of advocacy of animation in the broadest sense, both commercial and artistic. He continues to give animation filmmakers the opportunity to heighten their skills, meet fellow filmmakers and enhance their networks. In addition the festival provides animated films with an audience and enables visitors to immerse themselves in a concentrated overview of outstanding animation films. This intention was successfully realized. In response to the sixth edition in 1996, film critic and curator Edwin Carels endorsed the festival staff in positive terms:
After six editions, the HAFF has now clearly proven that an agreeable and successful animation film festival does not necessarily have to present its selection in pre-digested, interpretative categories. It can be primarily a purely informative event, where interested parties meet one another around a series of keywords which are grouped together in a consistent way (1997/1998, 23).
The recognition of HAFF also comes from the prestige of the members of the jury, who also were willing to present and discuss their own work. Animator Piet Kroon expressed an early appreciation for this aspect of the festival, ‘Schermer has a keen eye for the strategic importance of selecting a jury. International names add prestige to the competition and the festival’ (1991,18).
Inclusion in the four-yearly grant scheme of the Dutch national government provides another important indicator of official recognition. As a consequence, HAFF has been regularly assessed by the Raad voor Cultuur, the independent advisory board of the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OC&W). The reports of this advisory board contained in successive years repeated critical comments on the small numbers of visitors, but the support continued nevertheless. HAFF also received subsidies from the city of Utrecht; their advisory board similarly recommended growth in attendance. I would argue that this criticism is to be regarded as a potential fallacy and certainly as a reductive criterion. The use of rigorous quantitative criteria may give a distorted image. Each film festival has its limits to growth and especially animation film festivals because they represent a specialized niche, screening a relatively large percentage of short films, appealing to a specific target audience. Therefore, to assess the intrinsic value of animation film festivals one needs a more detailed and balanced approach of accountability than just some bare key figures.
Adjustments and Changes
The third period (from 2009 to the present) can be characterized as the period of new challenges and necessary adaptations to changes around the festival. HAFF started in an era where there were no computers yet, and cel animation remained the most common technique. Gradually, digitization of film production, distribution and exhibition altered the procedures and the power relations in the film industry. In a relatively early stage, the staff of HAFF considered the possibilities of animation on the Internet as an opportunity. A new competition was launched for web animation, featured on its own channel on YouTube (‘HAFF Tube’). In 2009 and 2010 HAFF presented a main program called ‘The Cutting Edge’, exploring the interplay between film, visual arts, games and digital motion graphics and other forms of entertainment on the Internet. In both years, also a selection of the best of Stash DVD Magazine was presentedand a review of the annual computer graphics conference SIGGRAPH Asia was given.
Also on an organizational level many changes were felt necessary and were implemented. Behind the scenes a sizeable and costly professionalization took place. Since 2004 it became possible to submit films digitally and in 2010 a new database and a new website went into operation. Other examples of adjustments include the 2008 decision to hold the festival annually and to present the complete catalogue as a free bilingual Dutch-English magazine, offering a handy overview during the festival which transforms into a collectors’ item afterwards. In 2011, the staff decided to shift the festival from October to March, motivated by the feeling that HAFF thus would fit better into the international festival calendar. HAFF also moved to a 4-screen art-house in the center of Utrecht, the Louis Hartlooper Complex. In 2011, the long-term cooperation with Utrecht University got a new dimension with the appointment of the British researcher Paul Ward as the first Centre for the Humanities-HAFF Festival Fellow.
Assessment of the Current Situation
If we take a snapshot in 2015, the year of the 18th edition of the festival, we can see that HAFF has acquired a stable position in the 21st century. The easiest measurable indicator of this would be to point out to the steady growing number of visitors (circa 10,000 at the turn of the century to currently around 17,000). As mentioned, these numbers were not considered sufficient by the governmental advisors, but apart from that I advocate the use of more nuanced criteria. To start with, a more relevant qualitative criterion would consist of the degree of recognition by leading film critics and prominent media platforms. HAFF has a convincing track record in this aspect. American writer and animator Jeanette Bonds for instance lists HAFF as one of her 11 ‘top animation festivals’. Her blogtext ‘Guide to Getting Seen’ was reprinted at the website of Animation World Network (Bonds 2014). Seven year earlier, Ottawa festival director, curator and historian Chris Robinson discusses approvingly the critical questions about programming animation festivals that were posed by guest curator Edwin Carels through his sidebar program ‘Not Done’ at HAFF 2002 (Robins, 2007, 161-163). Throughout time, various festival reports were published regularly; among others Sarto (2011) and Martin (2015). International animation expert Paul Wells has been guest lecturer at HAFF in several editions. These facts underpin that throughout the years, the reputation of HAFF has been steadily recognized internationally. A recent confirmation of this status was the presentation of a selection of the award winners of the Holland Animation Film Festival 2014 in September of that same year at the Indi-AniFest 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. This selection was also screened in February 2015 at EYE Film Institute Netherlands in Amsterdam.
But there are also constraining developments to observe. The festival budget remained very limited throughout the years and the festival staff remained therefore small. The lack of a business director was increasingly felt, but this job vacancy could not be fulfilled for a long time. The current standing of HAFF has been threatened by successive budget cuts, arising from the restrictive national and local cultural policy of the Dutch government. The budgets for support of culture are severely diminished and as a result many cultural organizations in the Netherlands have not been able to continue their activities. To boost their revenues, ambitions for increasing the number of visitors are high at HAFF. The current target is set to reach a total of 28,000 visits. However, it will be difficult to realize this. One of the main reasons is the growing competition of other platforms for animation.
The Loss of Monopoly
HAFF was initially the main hub for the Dutch premieres of major international animated feature films, such as The Secret Adventures of Tom Thumb (Dave Brothwick, UK, 1993), The Nightmare Before Christmas (Tim Burton and Henry Slick, U.S., 1993), Faust (Jan Svankmajer, Czech Republic/France/UK, 1993), and Institute Benjamenta (Brothers Quay, UK/Japan/Germany, 1996). This pattern changed in the 21th century. The Dutch international premieres of animated feature films are increasingly split between several different film festivals; partly depending on the release date, partly based on considerations of where the highest degree of impact regarding public attention may be realized, as a support for optimal box-office during the official release of the film. The struggle to attract animated feature films occurs internationally. Rüling observes that the same challenge exists for the Annecy festival, ‘With its historic image as an artistically oriented festival, its emphasis on short films and its idea of catering primarily to the animation field, Annecy has repeatedly encountered problems in attracting a high quality selection of international feature films into competition’ (Rüling 2009, 59).
HAFF is still an important actor in the Dutch film festival circuit, but it no longer has an exclusive monopoly to present animated feature films. Sometimes you win, as for instance with the international festival hit Waltz with Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel/France/Germany/U.S./Finland/Switzerland/Belgium/Australia, 2008), first shown as opening film of HAFF in 2008, followed by its Dutch release and a presentation at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam (IDFA). Sometimes you lose, as for instance with the Dutch premiere of another festival hit, Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, France/U.S., 2007), prominently presented at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) in February 2008 and released in Dutch cinemas in the same month. In October 2008 the film cropped up at HAFF as a revival. Some other examples: the major 3D blockbuster Up (Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, U.S., 2009) premiered in the Netherlands at the festival Film by the Sea in Vlissingen in September 2009. The Dutch premiere of Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, Australia, 2009) took place in 2010 at the short-lived International Film Festival Breda, followed a month later by a screening at the Imagine Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival.
Furthermore, HAFF is now no longer the only animation film festival in the Netherlands. The monopoly in this niche was broken by the arrival of smaller events such as KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival, which in 2007 moved from Ghent to Amsterdam (firstly to the Kriterion Cinema, later to EYE Film Institute Netherlands), and also the Zwols Animated Film Festival, a one-day festival that started in 2007 in Zwolle. In addition, there is since 2009 also Go Short, an international short film festival located in Nijmegen, where many films are screened. Outside the international animation film festival circuit, there are increasingly events in the field of creative industries worth highlighting, where animation enters among various cross media presentations. For example the Playgrounds Audiovisual Arts Festival in Tilburg, that exists since 2006 and characterizes itself as a festival for innovative and creative digital art (
4. The Curatorial Policy of HAFF in a Glance
From the beginning HAFF outlined a clear and specific strategy of curated content along the lines of three dichotomies. Firstly, the festival staff of HAFF highlights an international curatorial perspective together with a strong national selection, and secondly HAFF combines a contemporary focus with historical awareness. A third distinctive feature of HAFF remains the equal treatment of artistic and commercial animation films. A fourth dichotomy emerges at the level of HAFF’s outreach. The festival functions both as a networking platform for professionals and as a promotional platform for animation film in general. The common thread in this dual approach legitimizes animation as a mature art form, fighting the prejudice of animation as children’s entertainment.
HAFF focused in the early years explicitly on adults. Festival director Gerben Schermer explained his reasons in 1991: ‘Most people are biased. They think that animation is purely meant for children. You can only break through that by offering continuity in strong, interesting film programmes. That’s why I don’t show a children’s programme. It would boost the box office, but I just can’t afford throngs of children. It would only confirm the prejudice and you would risk losing the actual target group. (Kroon 1991,18).
This policy to exclude children’s films morphed in later years. In 2002, HAFF introduced the fringe program ‘Holland Animation Junior’ and four years later started a ‘Movie Squad HAFF Junior and
also developed a substantial supply of educational screenings. Still, only a very limited number of animation films for children and young adults screen at HAFF. This task remains the domain of the children’s film festival Cinekid that has presented from its start in 1987 a large scale of animation films in every edition, held in October in Amsterdam.
From the beginning the HAFF program contained a competition both for artistic films and commissioned films (commercials and corporate videos), both national and international. All kinds of seminars, master classes, lectures and talk shows, even inspirational breakfast sessions, supported this endeavor. The motivation behind this distinctive positioning was the intention to make high-quality connections with professional practice. In accordance with this, there was from the beginning a separate competition for student films from the Netherlands and Belgium. Young, emerging professional talents got the attention they needed.
Each program of HAFF includes a carefully curated competition of new, independently-made international animated films. Thematic ‘state of the art’ programs, featuring a well-curated choice of unique individual voices and authentic cosmopolitan cinema, supplement these panoramas. HAFF organized several sidebar programs with overviews of contemporary productions, for example from China (1985), England (1987), Japan (1989, 2006, 2009), the former Soviet Union (1992), Germany (1994), Poland (1996), or the U.S. (1998).
The historical component has always been well represented at HAFF. In 1992 for example, the festival screened German experimental animated films from the 1920s and 1930s. Other examples include the retrospective program around the Soviet studio Soyuzmultfilm in 1996 and the overviews of historical Soviet propaganda animation in the festival editions of 1992 and 2006. In 2007, HAFF cooperated with the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam presenting ‘Anima Docs’, an extensive program of historical animated documentaries. This program was also presented at Animafest Zagreb 2008. In 2009, a tribute was given to animation pioneers Emile Cohl from France (Carels 2008) and Arthur Melbourne-Cooper from Britain (De Vries and Mul 2009).
Notwithstanding the international scope of HAFF, national cinema inevitably enjoys special attention. In each edition, HAFF presents an overview of new Dutch animated films and offers retrospectives of various Dutch filmmakers. In addition, HAFF celebrated several anniversaries of Dutch institutions along the years. This curatorial perspective also provided the opportunity to mark its own jubilees, as with the 10th edition in 2004, and the 30th year in 2015. In cooperation with the national film archives, several milestones of Dutch film heritage were presented in various programs (Peters and Bosma 2011, 177-179; Ripmeester 2012). For more details about the line up of each festival edition, see the series of catalogues of HAFF (available online from 2010 onwards at
The festival participated in prestigious publications such as Glassman and Gloudemans’ monograph about the internationally acclaimed Dutch animator Paul Driessen (2002). In addition, HAFF gave attention to ‘Expanding Animation’ and organized several animation-related expositions as part of the festival. Examples include the installation Intra Muras of Rose Bond in the city hall of Utrecht (2008), the installation Handelingen of Maarten Isaak de Heer (2009), and the expositions of ‘Artist in Residence’ Sun Xun in 2010. Most recently HAFF participated in the exposition ‘Move on... 100 years of animation’, held in art gallery Kunsthal KAdE (Amersfoort), January-May 2015.
To Conclude: Evaluating the Curatorial Policy of HAFF
Inspired by Rüling (2009), Kinoshita (2012) and Gi%u017Cycki (2012), I have outlined a possible set of critical success factors to assess the quality of the curatorial policies of international animation film festivals and applied this to a case study of the Holland Animation Film Festival. HAFF generally scores rather well at my assessment of their curatorial policy. Naturally this conclusion can be tested by a thorough evaluation of each edition and by comparison with other best practices.
There is still a lot further research to do on the origins and growth of animation film festivals around the globe. This circuit is a world in motion, with an informal hierarchy. Annecy acquired a leading position in the 1960s and has retained this position throughout the years. The festivals of Ottawa, Zagreb and Hiroshima also have long-established prestige. If we limit ourselves to European examples, we can observe that the reputation of the Stuttgart Festival of Animated Film has grown over the years, and that there are also plenty of interesting newcomers such as Anifest in the Czech Republic (established in 2002), and the aforementioned KLIK! Amsterdam Animation Festival. For those who can read Dutch, my sketch of the trajectory of HAFF can be compared with that of the Anima Festival in Brussels (Menten 2012).
·       Becker, Howard. 1982. Art Worlds. Berkeley/ Los Angeles: University of California Press.
·       Beckman, Karen. 2014 (ed). Animating Film Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
·       Bonds, Jeanette. 2014. ‘Animation Festivals: The GLAS Animation Guide to Getting Seen - A comprehensive introduction to the process for submitting your short film to the world’s top animation festivals’. Blog post. Retrieved on 10 April 2015 at
·       Carels, Edwin. 2008. ‘Un bon sniff de Cohl’. In Libération 9-4-2008. Retrieved on 10 April 2015 at
·       ____. 1997/1998. ‘Holland Animation Film Festival: Business or Pleasure? Some Reflections on the Sixth Edition.’ In Holland Animation Bulletin, International Issue, 17-29.
·       Carroll, Noël. 1996. ‘Film History and Film Theory: An Outline for an Institutional Theory of Film’. In Theorizing the Moving Image, Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 375-391. Reprint of Film Reader 4 (1979), 81-96.
·       Den Draak, Huibert. 1995. ‘The Holland Animation Film Festival: The Party Lasts More Than Four Days - An Interview with Festival Director Gerben Schermer.’ In Holland Animation Bulletin, International Issue, 1995, 44-47.
·       De Valck, Marijke. 2008. ‘Screening the Future of Film Festivals? A Long Tale of Convergence and Digitization.’ In Film International 6 (4) 15-23.
·       De Vries, Tjitte and Ati Mul. 2009. ‘They Thought it was a Marvel’: Arthur Melbourne-Cooper (1874-1961), Pioneer of Puppet Animation. Amsterdam: Amsterdam UP.
·       Edera, Bruno. 1997. ‘Animation Festivals: A Brief History.’ In Animation World Magazine (January 1, 1997).
·       Gi%u017Cycki, Marcin. 2012. ‘Just What Is It That Makes Today’s Animation Festivals So Different, So Appealing?’ In Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals, edited by Jeffrey Ruoff, 41-58. St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies.
·       Glassman, Marc and Ton Gloudemans. 2002. Paul Driessen: Images and Reflections. Utrecht/Annecy: Holland Animation Film Festival/Centre International du Cinéma d’Animation.
·       Kinoshita, Sayoko. 2012. ‘The Spirit of the Hiroshima International Animation Festival, 1985-2010.’ In Coming Soon to a Festival Near You: Programming Film Festivals, edited by Jeffrey Ruoff, 201-214. St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies.
·       Kroon, Piet. 1991. ‘Holland Animation Film Festival: Animation Must Return to the Cinema.’ In Holland Animation Bulletin, International Issue 1991, 16-18.
·       Martin, Tess. 2015.’HAFF Report!’ Blog post in Tess Martin. Animator/Filmmaker. Retrieved 10 April at
·       Menten, Luk. 2012. ’31 jaar Anima: de geschiedenis van het Brusselse animatiefilmfestival.’ In Cinemagie, driemaandelijks filmstudietijdschrift, 51 (280), Autumn 2012, 66-77.
·       Loist, Skadi and Marijke De Valck (eds.). 2010. Film Festivals/Film Festival Research: Thematic, Annotated Bibliography (Second Edition).
·       Peters, Mette and Peter Bosma. 2011. ‘The Dutch Animation Collection: A Work in Progress.’ In Animation Practice, Process & Production 1 (1) (January 2011), 169-190.
·       Peters, Mette. 1995. ’Holland Animation Film Festival: The History.’ In Holland Animation Bulletin, International Issue, 1995, 47-50.
·       Ripmeester, Leenke. 2012. ‘Entertainment uit de Lage Landen: de Geesink collectie’. In Tijdschrift voor Media Geschiedenis (TMG) 15 (1), 63-73.
·       Robins, Chris. 2007. The Animation Pimp. Los Angeles: AWN Press.
·       Rüling, Charles-Clemens. 2011. ‘Event Institutionalization and Maintenance: The Annecy Animation Festival 1960-2010.’ In Negotiating Values in the Creative Industries: Fairs, Festivals and Competitive Events, edited by Brian Moeran and Jesper Strandgaard Pedersen, 197-223. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
·       Rüling, Charles-Clemens. 2009. ‘Festivals as Field-configuring Events: The Annecy International Animated Film Festival and Market.’ In Film Festival Yearbook 1: The Festival Circuit, edited by Dina Iordanova and Ragan Rhyne, 49-66. St. Andrews: St. Andrews Film Studies.
·       Sarto, Dan. 2011.’Holland Animation Film Festival 2012.’ Blog post in Animation World Network - Events. Retrieved at 10 April 2015 at
·       Wells, Paul and Johnny Hardstaff. 2008. Re-Imagining Animation: The Changing Face of the Moving Image. Lausanne: AVA Publishing SA.
Many thanks to my critical editors and supportive readers, who generously shared their expertise with me. Anet ter Horst and Gerben Schermer of Holland Animation Film Festival deserve special mention, and also my former colleagues of Netherlands Institute for Animation Film (NIAf) who introduced me to the fascinating world of animation films: Ton Crone, Mette Peters (University Utrecht and School of the Arts Utrecht), and Erik van Drunen (St. Lucas Art Academy Brussels and Klik! Amsterdam Animation Festival).
Author Bio
Peter Bosma (1960) is a freelance researcher, film programmer and lecturer. His research focuses on exploring the practice of cinema exhibition from an institutional perspective. Between 2012 and 2014 he was additional researcher for the project ‘The Dutch Animation Collection’ at the Netherlands Institute for Animation Film (NIAf, now merged with EYE Film Institute Netherlands). His most recent publication is Film Programming: Curating for Cinemas, Festivals, Archives (Wallflower Press, forthcoming June 2015). Website: