Culture / festival
54th International Puppet Theatre Festival
The 54th International Puppet Theatre Festival, named in Esperanto as Pupteatra Internacia Festivalo, PIF, was held in Zagreb from the 17th until the 23rd of September 2021. It presented puppet theatres from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Opened by the festival’s mascot Pifko, a colourful and cheerful parade was held throughout the streets of Zagreb.
Visitors enjoyed a total of 20 puppet shows, out of which 12 were taking part in a competition program.
A play ‘What if I’m not there?’ (Croatian: Ako me ne bude?) performed by the Academy of Arts and Culture Osijek won the competition following a unanimous vote by the festival’s children’s jury.
The festival was opened in Cultural Centre Travno, with the play ‘Beauty and the Beast’ performed by the Children’s Theatre Branko Mihaljević from Osijek and City Theatre Joza Ivakić from Vinkovci. The performance that opened the festival is based on the dramatisation of František Hrubin.
The festival’s competition winner ‘What if I’m not there?’ is an exam performance by Maja Lučić in her 2nd year of Puppetry Directing. Based on the story by Sergei Gregorievich Kozlov, it talks about the friendship between a bear and a hedgehog. The two of them sit together and observe the sky as the hedgehog asks the question that will change their lives forever.
The non-competitive program included the play ‘The next generation’ (Croatian: Oni koji dolaze), performed by students of the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek. It was another final exam in the third year of the undergraduate Acting and Puppetry program of the Academy. It is an emotional story about war and the horrors it brings, as it is based on the book ‘We too experienced war’, a collection of essays written by children in a war stricken Slavonski Brod.
The festival included interesting outdoor performances in Park Zrinjevac. Stop The Circus is a clown show without clowns but with Goethe, Mozart and Shakespeare. It is an interesting interpretation of dreams colliding between a nervous actress, busy theatre technician and frustrated pianist.
Another outdoor performance Thumb Sim, Thumb Tam is a quirky and creative story of Darko’s thumbs, told in an innovative form of body puppetry and body percussion.
History of the Festival
PIF was founded by the Student’s Esperanto Club (SEK) in 1968. The first year attracted many visitors and was quite popular, as the festival gained international publicity and was sponsored by the International Association of Puppeteers (UNIMA).
Until 1971, the festival grew in popularity quickly, and the International Centre took over its organisation for Services in Culture, today it is known as Cultural Centre Travno.
In 1988, awards given by the jury carried the name of Milan Čečuk, a writer, puppeteer and theatre critic. In 1990, the festival got its mascot, a huge puppet called PIFKO, created by the academic painter Mira Dulčić.
Since it was founded by the Esperanto Club, it was mostly attached to the language, but by 1994, one part of the organisational structure had abandoned the festival, and for the next two years, it was held in TromsØ, Norway.
Until 2006, the festival collaborated with another partner country each year, used to present specific puppeteer traditions of most European countries.
The festival has been held in Zagreb, Sisak, Varaždin and Velika Gorica and regularly has programs throughout Croatia.
Up until today, the festival has hosted over 900 puppet plays from all continents.
The festival is ideal for book promotions, workshops, puppet exhibitions, and charity funds, along with the main program.
It is sponsored by the City of Zagreb and the Ministry of Culture and Media.
1. LAZAR NOVKOV – for the music composing and sound design in the play CHRONO-DWARVES, performed by Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Slovak Republic.
2. MAJA LUČIĆ – for scenery and visual art design in the play WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE, performed by the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Republic of Croatia.
3. MAJA LUČIĆ, TAMARA KUČINOVIĆ and TONI LEAKOVIĆ – puppet making in the play WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE, performed by the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Republic of Croatia.
4. The ensemble of the play CHRONO-DWARVES– for dynamic, witty and precise animation and coordinated as well as permitting performance, performed by
Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Slovak Republic.
5. UROŠ KAURIN – for convincing and energetic acting and animation in the play THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES, performed by Maribor Puppet Theatre, Republic of Slovenia.
6. TILEN KOŽAMELJ – for convincing and energetic acting and animation in the play THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES, performed by Maribor Puppet Theatre, Republic of Slovenia.
7. TONI LEAKOVIĆ, – for the role of the Bear, subtle and precise characterization of a character with strong emotion in the play WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE performed by the Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Republic of Croatia.
8. ANDRIJA KRIŠTOF – for the role of the Hedgehog, subtle and precise characterization of a character with strong emotion in the play WHAT IF I’M NOT THERE performed by Academy of Arts and Culture in Osijek, Republic of Croatia.
9. JAN POPELA – for witty and dynamic animation of the Evil Witch in the play SLEEPING BEAUTY, performed by DRAK Theatre and The International Institute of Figurative Theatre, Czech Republic.
10. JAKUB MAKSYMOV – for directing the play CHRONO-DWARVES, performed by Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Slovak Republic.
THE “TIBOR SEKELJ” PRIZE for the production with the most humane message was awarded to Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, Republic of Slovenia, THE SKY ABOVE.
The MILAN ČEČUK GRAND PRIX for the best overall production was awarded to the Bratislava Puppet Theatre, Slovak Republic, for its production CHRONO-DWARVES.
The Tibor Sekelj prize was awarded to Ljubljana Puppet Theatre, the Republic of Slovenia for the production of The sky Above, for the production with the most humane message.