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The metamorphosis of the Czech animation industry

posted on 2017-01-16, 04:11 authored by Joschko, Lucie
The overthrow of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in 1989 led to an extensive transformation of many industries, including Czech cinematography and its famous animation sector. The aim of this research is to investigate how the development of Czech animation was impacted by the major post-1989 changes in production technology, political censorship and the economic transformation of animation studios. Although animation studies have begun to attract scholarly interest as a valid area of academic research, the researcher has identified gaps in the existing body of knowledge pertaining to the post-communist changes in Czech animation. An inter-disciplinary inquiry into the impact of multifaceted issues on the Czech animation tradition, such as the advancements of the technology of production, the removal of political censorship and changes in the funding and ownership of animation studios represents a rich topic that has not yet been explored to its full potential. Publications on this subject are not only sparse; they are typically limited to discussing individual issues rather than examining them from a more holistic perspective. The Czech animation tradition constitutes a significant element of the country’s cultural heritage as well as its national identity and it is therefore important to know how a confluence of the major socio-political factors has contributed to the metamorphosis of the Czech animation industry. Therefore, the researcher examines the conditions under which Czech animation flourished and under which the volume and/or quality of animated films was said to decrease. The year 1989 represents an especially significant milestone, associated with the removal of importation embargos and the subsequent accessibility of digital technologies by Czech animation studios. Furthermore, the removal of the Communist regime in 1989 meant that artists lost the need to disguise political messages through subversive metaphors. Fragmentation of the animation studios due to the post-1989 privatisation of the film and animation industry together with the introduction of economic censorship, which pressured artists and producers to seek financial profits, also exemplify some of the challenges affecting Czech animation production since the political changeover. The thesis presents the viewpoints of industry insiders on the past and current issues affecting the Czech animation industry and evaluates how the main post-1989 changes were experienced and perceived by those closest to the sector. Face to face interviews with animators, studio managers and animation historians offer a wealth of material that represents an authentic source of information. The research follows a qualitative methodology paradigm, designed to obtain rich data, while adhering to ethical requirements in conducting qualitative interviewing. Experiences, opinions and suggestions made by the research participants shed light on the current problems animation studios are facing. The insiders’ views are especially significant in challenging the assumptions made by outsiders to the industry and in providing ideas concerning ways in which the stagnating Czech animation sector could be assisted to ensure its future viability. Among other findings, interview data revealed strong support for the formation of a national film centre that would incorporate the animation sector and carry out multiple functions associated with funding allocation, film promotion and distribution activities. The majority of interviewed animators stated that their working conditions were far more acceptable during the pre-1989 period and that animation was then duly recognised as an artistic endeavour. They also agreed that the Golden Era of Czech animation might have already faded into the past. However, while its complete revival may not be conceivable, the preservation of the Czech animation tradition and its long-standing reputation may still be possible.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Michael Morgan

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Information Technology (Monash University Berwick)


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Information Technology