It was a pleasure to speak with Artistic Director of the Festival MONSTRA, Fernando Galrito, who is an expert in the field of Animation Cinema and started the festival 23 years ago. The festival will take place throughout the city of Lisbon, with the majority of the programme and film sessions related to the festival’s competitions taking place at Cinema São Jorge as well as having exhibitions at Museu da Marioneta, Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes and Cinemateca Portuguesa.

The festival is a celebration of Animation Cinema through its competition where more than 300 films from almost a hundred countries are competing in different categories. This includes feature and short films, films for children and families as well as retrospectives. Best of all, there is no need to be shy because the festival is open to everyone, with Fernando affirming that “You do not need to speak Portuguese fluently to attend”, further pointing out that “That is the advantage of Animation Cinema; there is no barrier when it comes to language, a lot of animated films do not have dialogue so everyone can enjoy it. When it comes to the competitions, I believe around 90% of the films have subtitles in English so everyone is welcome.”

An Unmissable Edition!

When asked what our readers can expect from MONSTRA and whether this is the best edition to date, Fernando told The Portugal News that “I hope so! We are always trying to bring novelties to the festival and we make sure to use the latest technologies. The importance of coming together in one space and meeting is very important to us.”

Additionally, “diversity is extremely important to us and we believe that it is so important to get to know one another and get to know different cultures. Other cultures share the same capacity as us to dream and create and the more we know one another, I hope less wars and violence comes from that.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: MONSTRA;

This editions programme focuses on the celebration of Animation Cinema’s Centenary in Portugal, with Fernando explaining “100 years ago, Joaquim Guerreiro who directed “O Pesadelo do António Maria” was the first known Portuguese animated film and now 100 years later the first Portuguese animated film Ice Merchants, directed by João Gonzalez has been nominated for an Oscar. We will be screening a fantastic selection of Portuguese animation films and this edition actually has the largest registration of Portuguese representation in the competition than ever before.

Guest Country

Fernando also revealed that every year we invite a country to be part of our programme and because this year we celebrate 480 years since the first Westerners, which were Portuguese sailors arrived at the coast of Japan we have chosen 97 Japanese feature films. “We pay homage to the richness, emotion, fantasy and poetry of Japanese animation.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: MONSTRA;

Adding that “We have selected prestigious names in Animation Cinema including the great masters which are Studio Ghibli, where we will show the “The Red Turtle” which is directed by Dutch animator and Oscar and BAFTA winner, Michaël Dudok de Wit, who is the first animator to do a film with Studio Ghibli. Most excitingly, Michael will be attending the festival as our honourable guest and doing a masterclass on creativity. There will also be Oscar-nominated Koji Yamamura who is our guest of honour, where we will have an exhibition of 50 originals of his films, and a masterclass about his latest film.


Fernando told The Portugal News that there are five exhibitions as part of its diverse offer, firstly they will have “Time Keeping Puppets – A journey into the world of Portuguese animation puppets” at Museu da Marioneta, at the Orient Museum there will be Koji Yamamura: Dozens of Drawings, then “Centenary of Portuguese Animation Cinema: 100 years, 100 films” at Cinemateca Portuguesa – Museu do Cinema, Raimund Krumme: Traces of Movement at the Sociedade Nacional de Belas Artes where he will show originals of films and also do drawings live on the gallery walls. Finally, there will be an exhibition of augmented reality posters that we will do at the Cinema São Jorge during the festival. The posters will come to life through visitors using their phones so it is something not to be missed.”

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: MONSTRA;

Workshops & Masterclasses

There will be masterclasses and workshops, with fantastic guests such as Joan Gratz, Joanna Quinn, Les Mills, Michael Dudok de Wit, Koji Yamamura, Martin Smatana, Florence Miailhe, Maya Yonesho, João Gonzalez, José Miguel Ribeiro, Bruno Caetano, Nuno Beato, Lucija Mrzljak, Tal Kantor, among many others. Fernando also told The Portugal News that there are workshops specifically for children and families so this edition’s programme is for everyone!

About the Artistic Director

Fernando Galrito told The Portugal News “I have a strong affinity with the festival because since I was a young boy and at only eight years old, I have always done cinema. I went on to study cinema and I feel it is key that Portuguese animation shares our story and our culture.” Asides from being the Artistic Director for MONSTRA, Fernando is also a teacher at the Escola Superior de Artes in Caldas da Rainha as well as being a guest speaker who does talks and conferences on animation, not only in Europe but also in America, Canada, Japan and China.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: MONSTRA;

To conclude, Fernando told The Portugal News that “The future is very bright for Portugal’s Animation Cinema. As a country we collect prizes from the whole world and Portuguese animation is well received by the world and it is a cinema that is internationally recognised. I believe if we maintain this dynamic and way of working Portuguese Animation Cinema will continue to be a dream and undoubtedly an important cinema.”

For more information and the full programme please visit or alternatively, visit @festivalmonstra on Facebook.


Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.

Cristina da Costa Brookes