Archive for May, 2011

Where did Frogs and Squash come from?

May 31, 2011 Leave a comment

Very recently somebody asked me where the name of my Frogs and Squash came from. To be honest it’s such an old name (used in my Polish blog in the first instance) that I can’t even remember if it was me or P. who had invented it. But I do know I love it, hence I still stick to it 😉

Have you noticed the funny way English pubs are given names? Pipe and Gannex… The Leg of Mutton and Cauliflower… Cow & Snuffers… or simply Fox and Hounds!… Is it really funny or is it just me being a foreigner?

When I googled frogs and squash for videos, the engine came up with this in the first place. But don’t expect too much – it doesn’t match anything either 😉


Marek Serafinski’s Race for a Good Looong Bank Holiday Weekend

May 30, 2011 Leave a comment

I am going on holiday soon but have already planned a few posts in advance, so I hope you won’t get bored with old, unchanging content of Frogs and Squash. And… today, despite the fact we still have a longer bank holiday weekend here and we should stay lazy both physically and intellectually, I decided to stick to experiment in animation. Ladies and gentlemen, let’s welcome Marek Serafinski!

Yes, he’s made quite a few films by now and got quite a few prestige awards for them, but I guess the most recognizable stays his Race from 1989. Race was awarded Grand Prix at festival in Lipsk and got a special award in Annecy. And actually it’s the only film by Marek that I have been able to find full online. An extract from one of his latest films, Idea (2007) is available on Serafinski studio website – with Malgorzata Bosek passing by as if accidentally (spot the lady in red!).

What characterises Marek’s style in animation is his combining photography, animation and graphics, where real pics of actors are a base for further picture processing and creating movement.

If you find any other Marek’s films online, do let me know. Also do keep in mind, Race is available on Anthology of Polish Animated Film (2 DVDs) along with other Polish productions from 1958 – 2005.

And in the meantime, let’s enjoy Race. Another funny piece – do you see the humour too? the way I do? 😉 And does it make you feel like going for a ride?

Piotr Kamler Gets Dragon of Dragons at 51st Krakow Film Festival (23 – 29th May 2011)

May 28, 2011 1 comment

Is it going to be too much for Saturday evening / night?, I asked myself when I thought of mentioning Piotr Kamler on Frogs and Squash. For some reason weekend is meant to be thoughtless, especially when it comes to browsing the net. Does anyone read blogs (or anything) during weekends at all?? The whole nation (here or there) is obviously jumping and drinking in pubs and clubs trying to forget before another Monday and getting back to reality as if weekend happened accidentally in a dream. Isn’t it a misunderstanding of what reality should be considered to be?

Anyway, maybe let’s talk animation now. It won’t be happy chilled out Saturday rabbit, no. It will be Piotr Kamler, a great Polish animator, whose films were produced mainly in France but who has always claimed he represents Poland. Funny enough, in Poland he’s not that widely known. Experimental animation, experimental music used in films created only with traditional (animation-wise) methods. After receiving awards worldwide (of course, including events in Poland), he’s now awarded the Dragon of Dragons, a life-achievement award given at Krakow Film Festival.

Below I decided to copy/paste fragments of press release published by the festival organisers on their website (this one opens as .pdf). But before we get there, let’s have a look at The Hole (Dziura, 1968). I myself find it extremely funny, so hope you enjoy it. However there is more films or extracts on the web if you want to see more – try on Youtube.

Here goes the press release:

(…) Kamler’s animations can be divided into two types – abstract and narrative.  Kamler’s films have many elements of science fiction, but irony applies – film critic Marcin Gizycki writes. – They are full of strange devices, weightless, flying disks, futuristic landscapes, unearthly civilization. But also magic and alchemy, the transmutation of matter, magic sticks. Even the very geometric forms, as in “Le pas” (Walk) or “Une mission Ă©phĂ©mĂšre” (One Ephemeral Mission), move in a magic or a telekinetic manner.  Despite all the uniqueness of Kamler’s vision, the spirit of Georges MĂ©liĂšs lives in his movies.

The music plays an important role in these works. Kamler cooperated with composers representing the elite of French contemporary music: Bernard Parmegiani (author of music for films by Walerian Borowczyk), François Bayle, Robert Cohen Solal.

In 1982, after five years of work, the artist completed his only feature film. Kamler’s biggest project and the most amazing sci-fi film in the history of cinema – “Chronopolis”. The history of the encounter of two civilizations at different  stages of development was completed with such a precision that the author was repeatedly asked about the use of the computer, however he consistently denies.

Piotr Kamler is the author of a dozen films, almost all produced in France. He, however, considers himself as Polish filmmaker. For his work the artist has won numerous awards including the prize for the best animated film of the last 30th years at Annecy International  Animated Film Festival for “Le pas” (1975). He received the Silver Dragon, main prize for animated films in Krakow three times – for “La planete vert” (1966), “Le trou” (1968) and “Coeur de secours” (1973). (…) 


I also found this on Cartoon Brew: Heart of Refuge by Piotr Kamler (with useful links) and this on Time Lost… Time Regained blog: Piotr Kamler – Coeur de secours (1973)

Let’s Sand Animate on a Cloudy Friday: Aleksandra Korejwo

May 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Aleksandra Korejwo is  a Polish animator who is well known for her sand animations. Beautiful, gentle, charismatic (I would say) to some point. The beauty of sand technique in animation lies in its elusiveness,  fragility and the fact that if you don’t film it, it will disappear like a sand castle on a beach covered with a bigger wave. 

Although Korejwo is known for her sand technique, she actually uses… coloured salt 🙂 Let’s have a look at two pieces today and I do hope you’ll enjoy them.

Good treat for any day: Castle of Cagliostro by Hayao Miyazaki (1979)

May 26, 2011 1 comment

I think some two days back or so, Film4 in the UK offered its viewers a great treat. I, personally, love I guess every work by Miyazaki so I was really happy when I found Castle of Cagliostro on the schedule.

To be honest I don’t normally watch that much TV and even if I start watching during the day, I usually end up with doing something else that is just more important. What happened this time? Well, halfway I had to switch to CBeebies as Waybaloo at 6pm occurs to be one of the everyday evening priorities… BUT! May the inventors of DVD and other home cinema systems stay blessed and happily live their lives in this or any other world (it seems my knowledge of them is very limited, to say the least) forever and ever.

A couple of years ago I met that wonderful lady, an anime expert who I was supposed to work with on a part of certain film festival programme. For many reasons the whole event did not work out which was a great shame but in fact it was she who had opened my eyes to Castle of Cagliostro. And I dare to say I am grateful.

OK, let’s talk about the film now. A flamboyant, international thief, Lupin III and his gang come to the smallest European country of Caliogstro, where he rescues a beautiful princess Clarice from a forced marriage to a count of Cagliostro and solves a mystery of a hidden treasure. Even though the princess is not that beautiful in her old-fashioned hair style… Well, that’s not really the point but I just had to make it… It’s Miyazaki’s feature debut from 1979 when the animator was already 38 and was well known for his work for TV. Here, he got a chance to prove his talent having more screen time to work on, bigger budget and higher production values.

Castle of Cagliostro is funny, witty, romantic, slapstick and adventures. I think only the fact that it’s based on good old series about Lupin III can justify his getaway from the princess at the end of Miyazaki’s film. (Oops, have I just given away the ending??…) Practically, he broke her heart and she didn’t even notice because she’s going to wait for him anyway!… Hm, I think I am just being pragmatic but it may be a matter of age, you know. It always changes one’s perspective, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I always try to recommend here a good source of deeper info on subjects my posts are about. So today I am not going into more details either and simply refer you to a good book on Miyazaki’s films if you are really interested. Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation: Films, Themes, Artistry by Helen McCarthy gives an overview, genesis and general analysis of 7 films from the animator plus discusses his career as well as the system of production Miyazaki works in. The book is from 2003, so the latest productions are not mentioned there. However, still worth checking for the master’s background 🙂

And below, we have the Castle of Cagliostro trailer. Enjoy!

Polish Film Festival Wisla in Moscow, Russia (15th April – 5th May 2011)

May 25, 2011 2 comments

The festival is over but I think it’s still worth mentioning. I am selective though as I am not going to write here about anything else than animated film. This year the event organisers dedicated a separate part of its programme to Polish animation with a special contribution from Se-Ma-For studio which screened some films but also gave a stop motion master class.

As a matter of fact, I think Se-Ma-For has been doing a pretty good job recently, at least PR-wise. They have been working hard to make sure everybody knows what the studio is about, what its history was, its achievements, and what films they currently work on. In the past it was widely known in Poland that the studio had had financial problems, and it changed its status from state organisation to private. Now it seems Se-Ma-For promotes their films everywhere – not only in Poland as they appear at festivals in Europe, America, Africa, now Russia. They have retrospective programmes but also their new productions get selected for competitions and get mentioned among winners. So all in all it looks great in the media, animated film is in the scope, which means Poland gets in the scope too. So, well done Se-Ma-For!

Yes, but getting back to the Moscow festival programme… The films shown in Moscow included a few titles from Marek Skrobecki but also Maska by Timothy Quay and Stephen Quay, Two Steps Behind… (Dwa kroki za…, 2010) by Paulina Majda and The Good, the Beauty and the Truth (Dobro, piekno, prawda, 2010) by Balbina Bruszewska (pretty interesting and very active animator who will get her own post here veeeery soooooon).

For more information (available in Polish and Russian), go first of all to the festival website or at least to a piece of news on Polish Television website.

Children’s Film Factory (Entropia Gallery)

May 24, 2011 1 comment

What I look for in animated films summarises well in a balanced combination of technique and subject. It’s not really rocket science that poor execution of the best subject will not win audience’s hearts, will not… win anything… actually. Innovative technique can possibly safe even the weakest subject, but how about something really simple for today?

Let’s have a look at the Children’s Film Factory (Entropia Gallery) and what they do. They are based in Wroclaw, Poland and since 1985 have been organising animated film workshops for children aged up to 14. The films are created in stop-motion technique and are based on original ideas as well as literature and other artefacts. Children work individually or in groups and their films win awards and distinctions at festivals and are often screened abroad too. What I like about them is that they seem fresh as much as a child’s mind can be. As simple as that.

Below is Scrap Raiders (Wojna zlomiarzy, 2010) by Mikolaj Golema and Lunchtime (Przerwa obiadowa, 2011) by Jan Popinski, of which the latter won the Jury’s Award at this year’s OFAFA Festival in Cracow.

For more information on Entropia Gallery, check out their web site where you can find more films too 🙂

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