A DIY animation film festival that began as a passion project for a Sydney man has taken off with hundreds of entries submitted from 77 different countries and resulting in screenings of 127 films.

Paolo Polimeni, a film classifier for TV and cinema, saw a gap in Sydney’s cultural landscape and decided to do something about it.

His AniMate Film Festival, which began in January 2020 with the aim of uniting animation lovers, students and professional filmmakers, shines a light on the medium’s offerings and provides a platform for the voices of up-and-coming artists.


“When I came to Sydney, I found, strangely, there was no animation film festival,” he told Central News.


“I had been waiting for years and years… waiting for someone to come up with an animated festival. Until I decided – I have to do it myself.”

In the past decade, there’s been a boom in adult animation in mainstream TV shows. Notable examples include BoJack Horseman, Love Death + Robots and Rick and Morty. A rise in animated films intended for adults has followed, such as Wendall & Wild and Entergalactic which were both released on Netflix this year. However, Australia remains behind when it comes to supporting independent, emerging animators.

It felt like there is an interest in the community, people are seeking this content.

Polimeni put $3,000 of his savings into Animate, as a passion project not to profit, and hoping to bring more attention to the genre and give encouragement to young animators.


“These [animation] students, even some from UTS are posting online their animated film, their shorts. How come I need to search online for these things? This content deserves to be screened,” he told us.


Unfortunately, soon after the project launched, the pandemic followed. Movie theatres were shut down, productions were halted and uncertainty loomed over the arts community. Despite this, AniMate Season 1 received 583 submissions and managed to sell out screenings between lockdowns at Redfern’s 107 Projects. Season 2 received 878 entries from 77 countries.


“It felt like there is an interest in the community, people are seeking this content,” Paolo said.


Their next event, AniMate – World Shorts Film Collection, will be screening at Dendy Cinemas, Newtown next Saturday (November 12). The selection includes Kapaemahu, a film that explores the legendary history of how four māhū (a traditional Hawaiian and Tahitian designation for people embodying the spirit of both men and women) brought the healing arts to Hawaii. Also showing is Müesli, a short about the adventures of a marmot and squirrel in the Swiss mountains. 


Screenings for Season 2 go until March 11, and include other categories such as World Student Films Collection (December 10), World Documentary Collection (January 14) as well as World and Australian Music Videos (March 11).



The selection process is largely focused on the originality of the animated shorts. Polimeni said he wants new ideas being expressed in animated content, and unique ways the medium can be used to express these thoughts.


“We look for original content. We like people to be bold and brave in the way they express their message and the message they bring forward,” he said.


“We bring up some ideas simply because they’re different, it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece in terms of technical skills.”


As entries for Season 3 of the festival are now open, Polimeni is hopeful the community of animation lovers in Sydney will continue growing. 


“AniMate is a very young and small reality, we hope it becomes big. Don’t be shy, we would love to see you at our events. We are always happy to find new people who are interested in animation,” he said.


If you’re a film lover, animation fan or just someone looking to learn more about the medium, you find can out more AniMate Film Festival here.


 Main images supplied by AniMate Film Festival.