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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.

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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.

Mouse by Wojtek Wawszczyk (2001) plus a few words on being an animator in Poland

June 2, 2011 3 comments

I think Wojtek Wawszczyk is one of those animators on Polish scene who has proved both: his artistry and professionalism and in my eyes, as a viewer of his films, he doesn’t really have to prove it anymore. Hm.. that doesn’t sound good, does it? Well, I basically mean that he’s NOT as good as his last film as for some reason Wawszczyk’s name carries for me the whole package and even if any of his projects occurs to be weaker, it doesn’t make much difference to the way I see him as an artist.

There is a good book giving an insight in current situation in Polish animation, however it was published (as far as I am aware) only in Poland. It’s called 24 Frames per Second. Talks on Animation (24 klatki na sekunde. Rozmowy o animacji, 2009) and contains interviews carried out by Mariusz Frukacz with 21 fairly young Polish animators. For each interview the starting point seems to be each artist’s art plus the way he / she sees his / her artistic situation and circumstances in Poland. Conclusions are interesting but, here, I want to focus only on one aspect.

The aspect: If you want to be an animator in Poland, you can choose from the following options: 1. do commercial animation and perhaps loose your dignity as a former artist; 2. do artistic animation and do not make a penny out of it; or 3. do a bit of both and make descent money from / to fulfill your artistic ambitions. I can imagine that in many countries the situation looks somewhat similar. And I’m not even sure if, generally speaking, there are any other scenarios possible for a career as an animator. If you think of any other, feel free to let me know…

Anyway, getting back to Wawszczyk – he seems to be very much number 3. He has decent education from both Lodz Film School and the one in Ludwigsburg, Germany (for those who don’t know and also to simplify the subject as much as possible, it means he learnt classical  animation in Poland and 3D in Germany). He has good professional experience gained e.g. in Germany, USA, India, and now Poland. He makes good (technique-wise but also subject-wise) animated films that are watched by audiences with pleasure. And I think the latter places him in the same league as Tomasz Baginski.

For more information on Wojtek Wawszczyk, visit his website: http://www.wojwaw.com/. It is bilingual to make the access easier to other nations. You can also view quite a number of his films there.

And here comes the Mouse which is his last student film from 2001 (so we are pretty much getting back to the roots now). Enjoy! 🙂

Polish Cinema Now! Focus on Contemporary Polish Cinema

May 17, 2011 1 comment

I think it’s a very important book on English market, especially when you realise there’s so little on the subject. The funny thing is that when Poland was behind the iron curtain (up to 1989) and when state censorship tried to manipulate almost every aspect of people’s lives, including films, many of the productions were actually known worldwide. Everybody knew (and still does) names like Kieslowski or Wajda probably as much as the Polish School of Animation (the term used in the 60s of the last century). All that was good and valuable, inspirational and put high on intellectual heights. And I think it still plays an important role in Polish culture in general, even though it’s just (as some might say) a part of the past. 

However, and I do mean it, I may feel slightly fed up with that constant re-discovering Poland, its culture and artefacts in the context of Soviet domination as if there was nothing more on offer (which is, by the way, completely untrue). And that’s exactly why Polish Cinema Now! is so important – it creates a bridge between the past and the present. It identifies links between history and the present day while pointing out influences, sources but also opposites and changes that occurred as a consequence of replacing the socialist regime with the democratic one. And, above all, it shows that life goes on and, on a daily basis, the past does not have to be in the centre of attention.

Polish Cinema Now! is edited by Mateusz Werner, a Polish film critic and writer and contains of several essays from both Polish and English authors. Only one chapter is dedicated to animation but that’s, to be honest, perfectly fine. It’s informative (gives a number of names, titles and studios), yet well written and keeps you focused long enough to get you to the end in one go.

The book is also accompanied by 2 DVDs which are a selection of short films, among them – several animations: Franz Kafka (1991) by Piotr Dumala; DIM. (1992) by Marek Skrobecki; Hairdresser (Fryzjer, 1996) by Robert Sowa; Tuning the Instruments (Strojenie instrumentow, 2000) by Jerzy Kucia; and The Cathedral (Katedra, 2002) by Tomasz Baginski. The last one was nominated for the Academy Award for Animated Short Film in 2002. And even though it’s not really one of my favourites, this one I show you today:




***An interesting and quite informative review was published online in February this year: Polish Cinema Now! review. Enjoy!

Fresh Blood of Polish Animation (written by Mariusz Frukacz)

July 28, 2010 Leave a comment

To all those who would like to have a read something about the shape of contemporary Polish animation but do not really read in Polish, I present a piece of text written in English. Its author is Mariusz Frukacz, Polish film critic and promoter of animated film in Poland and abroad. The article has recently been published in Asifa Magazine (vol. 22 no. 2, Winter Issue 2009) and is one of the most interesting insight in the context of Polish new animation I have come across to date.

***

Fresh blood of Polish animation.

It has been quite a while now since Polish animated film was in as good shape as it is today. The year of 2008 seems to have been very generous. Polish animation finally got proper attention and bigger money. A lot of time was spent on revising its 60 year history, honoured authors, and distinguished film titles. However, I decided to have a closer look at what is happening here and now; I want to answer a question about the nature of the present moment in Polish animation. Above all I concentrated on those who are part of today’s Polish animated film industry, namely on animators of our young generation.

Since 1989 – a landmark in Polish history – throughout the next 15 years, there have not been many debuts in Polish animation. No one doubts, I guess, the reasons for the situation.  Production crisis – not only in animation but in the whole cinematography industry – limited possibilities for professional development, hence young authors graduating from four major Polish schools teaching animation were ignored by the animation market. Out of necessity they had to start looking for alternative occupations and engaged with television, advertisement and graphics… Undoubtedly the 1990s was the lost time for Polish animation; it was the time of a lost generation of young animators who did not have a chance to professionally develop their creative skills. The beginning of the 21st century and changes implemented in the production funding system, including the foundation of Polish Film Institute, gave Polish animators new perspectives. The dynamics of the processes is best visible through a prism of the competition at Polish National Festival of Author’s Animated Films OFAFA held in Cracow, which has reflected the state of Polish animation for many years. In 2002 the professionals’ competition presented only 2 out of 18 films in the competition made by animators born in the 70s and the 80s. Only one debut was shown to the festival audience – Cathedral by Tomek Baginski, nominated for the Academy Award half a year later. Five years passed by, eight debuts were competed at the festival and as many as 14 competition films were produced by authors born in the 70s and the 80s. In 2008 young animators’ productions amounted to 85 per cent of all professional animated films in the competition. If we added to it students’ works and amateurs’ films, we would come to a conclusion that some fresh blood has finally rushed into Polish animation veins. Read more…

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