ASIFA International – A short history
ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film d'Animation) was founded in 1960 in Annecy, France. Renowned Canadian animator Norman McLaren was elected the first president of ASIFA. McLaren, John Halas and our other founding members envisioned a world of peace and dialogue to settle our differences, with the art of animation serving as a bridge between different cultures and ideologies.
“Animation is not a religion; neither is it a political movement in any sense. It remains a true contemporary art form which has been unrecognized for what it can achieve… we consider animation as a universal expression which is capable of immense contribution if given a chance.” John Halas, President’s Letter 1979
Working with UNESCO, ASIFA strived to unite the animation world in peace by trying to find ways for animators from both sides of the Iron Curtain to meet in person. The main goal of ASIFA was to share animation films and develop lasting international friendships.
“I was sometimes asked to help out at international board meetings, sometimes taking minutes, sometimes (inexpertly) interpreting, and thus witnessing Cold War relationships up close. Despite mutual suspicion and frequent high drama, agreements were slowly thrashed out, film exchanges, visiting delegations and new festivals organized.” Clare Kitson, ASIFA Member
The development of the ASIFA-China group in 1984 helped open Chinese animation to the world and encouraged the Shanghai Animation Festival. Other chapters soon followed in Iran, South Korea, India, and Egypt, expanding the global reach of ASIFA. Recently, ASIFA has welcomed new chapters in Germany, Thailand, China-Xiamen and Lithuania. Now, with more than 40 chapters worldwide this spirit of peace, love and tolerance continues to guide ASIFA.
“Sharing a common interest with a friend on the other side of the world will build bridges to a far-off community and give you the ability to talk through ideas and work together with someone who may have a completely different perspective on life. ASIFA wants you to find that friend and form the bonds that build strong communities within a global society.” Ed Desroches, ASIFA President