C.J. Lazaretti's directorial debut Cosmico first screened in Hamburg in 2014. Nine months later, it undertook its second coming to Germany for the birth of a new event in Dresden: the International Noncommercial Animation Festival BEAR.

Created by Russian animator Olga Guse, the festival offers a platform for expressive, personal animated films made independently from major cartoon studios. Out of more than 500 submissions from 55 countries, the festival selected 40 films, competing for awards in the categories Animation, Animation for Kids and Experimental Animation. Cosmico was nominated for the latter, together with nine other films from countries like Japan, France, Israel and the US.

In addition to Guse, the panel of judges included multimedia artist Elena Pagel and actor-director Wladimir Tschurikow. Out of competition, Pagel also premiered her experimental film Circle of Silence, a poetic exploration of female identity under the adverse effects of patriarchal traditions, inspired by interviews with women from the city of Gyumri, Armenia.

Attendance to all dates in the festival was free of charge. Catering to Dresden's substantial community of Russian expatriates, the screenings were hosted in German and Russian.

"Grassroots events like BEAR are of key importance for independent animation and film," says C.J. Lazaretti. "We can now make films like Cosmico for a fraction of what pioneers like Terry Gilliam and Jan Svankmajer spent on their projects, but that's the easy part. Bringing films to audiences is still the most formidable challenge for independent filmmakers. Pairing an international focus with a local scope, BEAR creates casual bridges between artists and viewers across borders, languages and cultures. We need more events like it."

The International Noncommercial Animation Festival BEAR experimental showcase was the first of three international screenings of Cosmico in March, 2015. After Dresden, Duke Cosmico headed to Berlin for the 23rd Contravision Film Festival before winning its first award at the 10th Athens Animfest.


Selected photos from the 2015 International Noncommercial Animation Festival BEAR

The International Noncommercial Animation Festival BEAR took place at Dresden arts venue ZMO-Jugend e.V. (photo: Olga Guse) "Cosmico" director C.J. Lazaretti and festival judge Elena Pagel await the screening of the experimental animation showcase of the International Noncommercial Animation Festival BEAR (photo: Olga Guse) The VIP crowd: festival judge Elena Pagel and painter/curator Narine Zolyan (photo: Olga Guse)


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