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Hairdresser by Robert Sowa (1996) and Why Hair Stylists Are Important in a Woman’s Life

June 30, 2011 1 comment

Generally speaking, I hate going to a hair stylist / hair dresser or just anyone who is supposed to do anything with my hair. I would say: they just DON’T understand my nor my hair’s needs! And that’s the main reason for me crying nights after another such experiment in hope that maybe this time everything is gonna be different. Actually, I did have a great hair stylist. Finding him was just a shot and it was a damn good shot, may I say. One day he just took off in an unknown direction and, as you can imagine, I was devastated (in the way only a woman can be!).

HOWEVER, let me share with you my joy as HE’S BACK and I have finally found a peace of mind 🙂 Yeay! 🙂

But let us talk animation now – I can imagine you wondering: what the hell your feminine story has to do with animation?? Well, I will say, assuming you are an intelligent reader (of course, you are!), you can find links everywhere. So, today a Polish animator has crossed my mind. Not only for the hair subject in one of his works but for a few other reasons too. Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s put our hands together for Robert Sowa!

He’s actually one of those Polish artists that you cannot really find much info about when you look online. His film from 1996, Hairdresser (Fryzjer) within 5 minutes shows the lonely main character who escapes into a fantasy world while we, the viewers, watch him and his actions from outside. It’s a stop-motion, plasticine animation and it got the main award at Polish OFAFA festival in 1997.

The hairdresser created by Robert is not the kind you’d like to meet and have a hair cut from, me thinks. In his films Robert explores the feelings and loneliness of his characters and the Hairdresser fits in perfectly. I am not sure if such an emotional outsider can create a good hair-do to satisfy his client’s needs. I suppose he would rather look for satisfying his own needs and desires in the first place – that’s how we, humans, are constructed and that’s what goes to the centre of our own attention when you keep repeating me, me, me… all day long. And, finally, that’s why we need to fulfill the sociable element of our nature, don’t we? Isn’t that what our mental health is all about?

This particular production can be found, however, on DVD’s included in Polish Cinema Now! package (reviewed here in May) and to be bought e.g. from Amazon. You can also have a look here for more detailed info on the book.

Robert Sowa graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow, Poland where he currently works in Jerzy Kucia‘s studio. His film Hairdresser is said to be a part of a permanent exhibition at National Museum in Cracow (source: 24 Frames per Second. Talks on Animation by Mariusz Frukacz, 2009). His other films got awards and mentions at festivals in Poland and abroad.

Watch Me Move: The Animation Show at Barbican (15th June – 11th September 2011)

June 28, 2011 2 comments

I am quite excited about an event that started last week at Barbican. I mentioned it in May, when tickets had just gone on sale and since it has already begun I decided to write a few words on it again – let’s say it’s a reminder (well, sort of, so better bear with me 😉 ). 

To be honest I was hoping to get to Polish School of Animation programme but have already realised what a bad timing is Thursday 14th July! Sure, you can say it’s going to last for the whole day and there are 4 sets of films to be seen, so better go and choose something for yourself! Well, sometimes one simply cannot do more than their diary and daily schedule allow. So, I’m saying it with regret but I won’t be there. However, if anyone is around, go and enjoy! And it’s a must for all of you (around!).

Anyway, yesterday I showed my 19 months old boy an animated film that is actually a part of Barbican event. To my surprise, I dare to say, it occurred to be a great fun for both of us to watch it – so great that we watched it 3 times laughing each time even louder. The film is going to be presented by Caroline Leaf at Live Animation on Thursday 7th July (7:30pm) along with other works of hers.

It’s called The Owl Who Married a Goose: An Eskimo Legend (1976)  and, to be honest, till that moment I had never thought it’s that funny 😀 So, in case, you’re not sure which parts of the film can make your children laugh, I am pointing you to the following moments with approximate timing: 1. the Goose feeds her little ones with fish at 3’25” and 2. the flock of birds takes off and flies at 4’55”.

Hope it gave you a good laugh too. And if you are slightly more mature and do not wish to be distracted from your noble maturity with silly laugh (other reasons will be appreciated as well), go to my post on Polish Frogs & Squash about Caroline Leaf (perhaps one day I will even translate it or just write something new here 😉 ) OR, for English speaking readers, I recommend an interview with the artist that was published at AWN last December: Caroline Leaf: Serious Game.

Annecy Cristal 2011: Pixels by Patrick Jean (2009)

June 24, 2011 2 comments

Even though my yesterday’s post had nothing to do with Annecy festival, I am still a bit in the mood… So today let’s have a look at what actually won hearts of this year festival Jury.

The Annecy Cristal went to Patrick Jean for his short Pixels (2009) which shows the invasion of New York by creatures of 8 bits. Pretty current subject, I guess, and with a few layers of meaning… Enjoy!

PIXELS by Patrick Jean from ONE MORE PRODUCTION on Vimeo.

Se-Ma-For Films at Festivals Worldwide (update)

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Se-Ma-For studio seems to be doing quite well recently in terms of attendance of their productions at various festivals worldwide.

This week studio announced on their website when and where you can see some of the titles, so let’s have a look:

Maska by Quay Brothers, Two Steps Behind… by Paulina Majda, as well as The Lost Town of Switez by Kamil Polak have been qualified to the 17th Palm Springs International ShortFest (21-27 June 2011). Also, Maska by Quay Brothers got into a competition at 19th International Animation Festival ANIMA MUNDI, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro (15-24 July 2011). (…)

If it’s not enough, three of Se-Ma-For productions have been accepted to Animator Festival competition in Poznan, Poland.

For more, visit this link: SE-MA-FOR AT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS.

Janek Koza: Painter and Animator

June 23, 2011 1 comment

I find Janek Koza remarkable and unconventional. He’s a painter, he’s an animator, so pretty much he’s an artist in a wider sense of the word. Born in 1972 and graduated in 1995 from Academy of Fine Arts in Wroclaw, Poland. He does comic books, animated films, ads and paintings and his style has a reputation of easily recognisable.  His drawings are simplistic and gruesome, disregarding the rules of perspective and proportion. And his characters are just.. ugly.

More info can be found when you follow these interesting links: Janek Koza: Unmasking Corruption, Janek KOza’s videos on VimeoJanek Koza’s bio and portfolio or the KURWS – Ani lepiej, ani gorzej | “Dziura w getcie” / “A hole in the ghetto” (2011).

And below I chose to paste a music video made for Krojc. Enjoy!

KROJC – Games from janek koza on Vimeo.

Paths of Hate Gets Jury Award at SIGGRAPH

June 22, 2011 1 comment

Thoughts After Annecy… (Paths of Hate, Luminaris and Stones)

June 21, 2011 4 comments

Probably everybody knows by now the official results of Annecy competitions. It was great to hear that 3 out of 7 Polish shorts selected in the competition actually got something. I even wonder if I can dare to say we smashed it! but perhaps that bit of national solidarity is out of place here?.. slightly?.. or is it really? 😉

OK, enough of coquetry and let’s name these awards: Jean-Luc Xiberras Award for a first film went to Switez by Kamil Polak, Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow got a Special Distinction and Maska by Quay Brothers won an award for original music. For more info, go to Annecy festival website: The 35th International Animation Film Festival Awards.

To be honest I am especially happy for Switez and Paths of Hate. The first one just deserves to be noticed – pure artistry. As for the second, after watching the trailer I wasn’t really sure what to expect. For some reason I was thinking it would be another 3D stunt – good technique but not much more than that. And I don’t consider it actually to be enough for a good film. I also don’t really fancy all those rage and hate topics that, in my humble opinion, are just extreme and outworn by now examples of human confusion; and for that reason do not have to be exposed too much. But I saw Paths of Hate at one of the screenings in Annecy and, despite my reservations, I let myself immerse in the story. I liked the way Nenow built tension. I liked the way the tension went to extremes fairly soon and I enjoyed the fact it stayed there almost till the end. I didn’t get tired, I didn’t get bored. I enjoyed the way the animator played with time, changed the dynamics in the picture from unbearably fast to.. unbearably slow when a second lasts at least a few. And I wasn’t distracted by the cross nor the sentimental photo of a lady-the-pilot’s-love-forever-whatever (or at least not too much). Paths of Hate appeared to be just a very good film, Ladies and Gentlemen.

I had been thinking of giving Maska some thought here too but I decided to it some other time…

Apart from Polish films there were a few others that drew my attention too. Let’s focus on two of them. First of all, Luminaris by Juan Pablo Zaramella (2011). The film got the audience award and it definitely was my choice too. I think there are often films in festival competitions that are witty, funny, with good concept, with nice narration, illustrated with good music, hence with good rhythm too. And such films are enjoyed by audiences but later on get only awards from… audiences. Don’t get me wrong here as obviously sometimes audience awards say much more about appreciation of the film than any other distinction. And I think it’s a very important type of award. It’s just that it does not come from the jury (sic!).

Luminaris is actually one of such films, me thinks. It got the longest ovation of any films I watched at the festival (sure, there could have been other, even longer but they must have happened in a screening room around the corner!). It uses animated objects, pixilation and photos. It seems that the combination of techniques is nothing unusual anymore, but the concept itself reminds me actually of nothing I have seen before. Of course, we have elements we can be familiar with, like the way the main character gets to work as if it was taken straight from The Jetsons. But still, I had that amazing feeling of freshness while watching it and I appreciate it so much! It doesn’t happen too often, does it? Can you think of any other (RECENTLY made!) animated film that showed you something you had never seen before?..

Below, you can see the film’s trailer. For more videos by Juan Pablo Zaramella, visit his channel on Youtube.

Summary: In a world controlled and timed by light , a common man has a plan that could change his destiny.

Stones (Kamene, 2010) by Katarina Kerekesova and Ivana Sebestova is another short I liked. It did not win anything but in my opinion it simply stood out. Stones is a puppet musical combining emotionally strong music, unconfined space, passion and fear – that’s how it’s described in the catalogue and from what I saw I can tell it’s true. It relies on a musical convention, tells a story of unfulfilled love, disappointment and shows how a woman can disturb a grey and simple life of quarry workers. What I liked in this particular film was actually the usage of conventions transferred to animation ground. Again, I have not really seen that type of puppet musical before. Perhaps I have not seen that much yet 😉

Here, you can find a few details on the film’s production and below is the film’s trailer. Enjoy!

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