A few years ago, I was at the Banja Luca Film Festival in Croatia, and I met Jurinko Rajic, the director of the Neum Animation Film Festival (NAFF). He invited me to his festival, and I was a bit indifferent. Then he showed me the brochure for the fest, and I noticed it was at a fantastic hotel at the beach of the lovely Adriatic Sea. I said, "Sign me up."
So, after the Moscow experience, I flew down to lovely Dubrovnic, and then onto Neum, "The Riviera of the Adriatic." I must say this festival is one of the most unique that I ever attended. The screenings take place on this lovely outdoor terrace, with a view of the stars, and a picture-perfect harbor. As the warm summer breeze blows by, you get to witness some of the region's best animation. Some of them are amazing!
The most endearing quality about the festival is that it's truly a family-run one. Jurinko and Sanja run the day-to-day operation, and his 2 daughters Rhinea and Aleta take care of hosting the attendees. Also, other cousins, nieces and uncles take care of other festival duties. Unfortunately, the town is quite small so that audiences are not as massive as Annecy, but the intimacy has its own special charm.
Every morning I'd go swimming in the delightfully clear and warm harbor, along with numerous tourists from Poland, Czech Republic, and France. There were wonderful daytime excursions to fascinating places: the ancient bridge at Mostar, the Catholic shrines for Pilgrims at Medjugorje (where 6 little girls saw The Virgin Mary in 1981), and of course Dubrovnic; a very charming a picaresque ancient fortress and harbor.
My former producer, Biljana Labovic, has been raving about this town for years, and I am happy to confirm her claims of this special place. I hope to return to this marvelous festival and I urge all of you animators to send your films there. By all means, try to attend; you'll have the time of your life. The hospitality can't be beat.
I give the Neum Animation Film Festival an A-.