John Musker Named Animayo 2024 Guest Star, Will Head the Fest’s Oscar-Qualifying Competition Jury (EXCLUSIVE)

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Spain’s Canary Island-based Animayo Gran Canaria animation festival has revealed that longtime Disney and now indie filmmaker John Musker will be this year’s guest star. Among his responsibilities at the fest, Musker will head Animayo’s Oscar-qualifying animated short competition jury and host the Spanish premiere of his short film “I’m Hip.”

Musker is a living animation legend, best known as the writer and director (with Ron Clements) of several Disney Renaissance hits, including “The Little Mermaid,” “Aladdin,” “Hercules,” and “Moana.”

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Musker’s participation at Animayo follows an example set last year by fellow Disney legend Andres Deja, who attended the festival with his debut short film “Mushka.”

Over 30 guest speakers will attend Animayo 2024 to discuss the latest developments in animation, VFX, and video games. Festival director and producer Damián Perea told Variety that the speakers will “come to share their knowledge, transmit their experiences in a close way, to teach and motivate new generations, professionals who mingle and interact with the public at the Festival, participating in autograph signings.”

This will be the Musker’s first time at Animayo, or any Spanish animation festival for that matter, and the first time “I’m Hip” will be officially screened in the country. The short will make its Spanish debut on Wednesday, May 8, at 6:00 p.m. in the Cicca Cultural Center, the heart of Animayo. Admission to the screening will be free until the venue has reached capacity.

After debuting “I’m Hip,” Musker will host a making-of presentation on Wednesday, May 8 at 6:00 p.m. CET. He will also lead a four-hour drawing workshop on Thursday, May 9, from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, May 11, at 10:00 a.m., he will present a master class focused on writing and directing animated features.

Musker will further contribute to this year’s event by chairing Animayo’s international jury. This is a vital role, as the top short film at Animayo qualifies for the Academy Awards. Last year’s Animayo winner, Yegane Moghaddam’s Iranian stop-motion/2D hybrid short “Our Uniform,” not only qualified but eventually received an Oscar nomination. It was the first Iranian animated short to do so.

Other members of Animayo’s 2024 international jury include Polygon Pictures president and CEO Shuzo Shiota (“Transformers Prime”), Romanian-Danish producer Elena ø Alexa (“Song of the Sea”), Annie-winning “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse” production designer Patrick O’Keefe, and Danish animator/director Sara Koppel (“Little Vulvah & Her Clitoral Awareness”).

Animayo is held each year thanks to the support of many local and national entities, including the Cabildo de Gran Canaria, the Society for the Promotion of the City of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Turismo Gran Canaria, the Foundation of La Caja de Canarias, the Government of the Canary Islands, and ICEX-Invest in Spain. The festival also relies heavily on participation from numerous production companies, studios, schools, and universities.

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