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Animated Documentary: Abuelas by Afarin Eghbal (2011)

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

I just found the below in my drafts. Started over a month ago, though I sincerely don’t remember what my point behind it was to be. So, I am not going to add anything to that and leave it as it is. Only because the film mentioned there deserves to be mentioned at all. Enjoy its trailer and pray for a chance to see it.

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In a small apartment in Buenos Aires, an old woman eagerly awaits the birth of her grandchild. However, horrific circumstances mean that she will be forced to wait for over 30 years. 

This short animated documentary was screened as a part of British Showcase at LIAF in the beginning of September 2011. It was made by an Iranian-born director, Afarin Eghbal, who moved to the UK as a baby with her family after the 1979 revolution.

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2 SE-MA-FOR FILM FESTIVAL – AWARDS

September 28, 2011 Leave a comment

On Saturday, 24th September awards and nominations for awards were announced at 2nd Se-Ma-For Film Festival. Winners of international competition for the best stop motion animation will be known at the 2nd part of this year event that will take place in Lugano, Switzerland in November 2011. 

Follow the link for the list of Se-Ma-For winners: 2nd Se-Ma-For Film Festival – awards.

Detailed Programme of 2. Se-Ma-For Film Festival (22-25 September 2011)

September 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Organisers of 2nd Se-Ma-For Film Festival in Lodz,  Poland have announced this year event programme.

Check this out as the festival starts in 2 days: Detailed Programme of 2. Se-Ma-For Film Festival.

World Premiere of The Flying Machine at Toronto Film Festival

August 17, 2011 2 comments

As announced recently on Polish Film Institute website, The Flying Machine (2011) is going to be premiered at 36th Toronto International Film Festival that takes place next month. 

The Flying Machine is an interesting project undertaken by producers and creators of an Oscar winner, Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton (2006). The film combines 3D stop-motion animation with live action (here they even got a star Heather Graham) and with Fryderyk Chopin music played by famous Chinese pianist, Lang Lang. Apart from Chopin himself, there is of course a huge Polish input in the production – from financial support from Polish Film Institute or Lodz Film Commission to my best liked Polish names, like Marek Skrobecki or Krzysztof Ptak (cinematography).

I am under impression that to find a full list of credits  you would have to check quite a few sources and actually compile it yourself. Or maybe one day Sight and Sound will publish it in full length – that’s a very good practice of the magazine! So, to avoid creating additional confusion I will just refer you to the website of the film’s British producer, Breakthru Films. It is said that The Flying Machine will reach Polish cinemas on 21st October 2011. And I only hope that it will be possible to see it in other parts of the world, too – not only at festivals…

You know, there was once a piece of text published in FilmPRO 1/2010 (a Polish film industry related magazine), entitled Preludium by Marta Luchacz and Jarek Somborski. Even though it got printed almost 1.5 year ago when The Flying Machine production was actually at the stage of preproduction I guess, I think it provides quite a nice insight into the film concept and the way the works were planned. And that’s exactly why I would like to refer to it a bit and give you some shadowy (sic!) facts. (Sure, if you ever happen to find anything more up-to-date, do drop me a line as I’ll be happy to learn about it myself.)

Anyway, The Flying Machine is supposed to be the first stop-motion puppet animation in Poland made with the use of stereoscopic technique (and, so far, I have not heard of any similar project, so my assumption is The Flying Machine still holds the title of a pioneer on Polish scene). However, the film will be screened in both: traditional and 3D cinemas. There were supposed to be two different scales for puppets created for the purpose of the film – a scale of 1:4.5 for 30-40cm puppets and 1:9 for those of 15-20cm. The film was to combine 50% of animation with the remaining 50% of live action. All that was to be filmed in a specially built studio with over 20 sets prepared by Marek Skrobecki.

In the initial phase of works on the film the crew made a lot of tests, first of all, based on reference material used by creators of Coraline (2006), in order to work out the best way of creating the stereoscopic effect. However, due to completely unsatisfying results and disparity in the depth of the picture in different frames, the crew decided to reject it and set up their own rules. The challenge seemed to be even bigger when you realise that what you actually get in the film is a mix of stop-motion animation, live action (sure, I already mentioned these) but also computer animation (was to be added in the postproduction process) along with both postproduction and compositing to have been done in stereo alike (if I’m making myself clear at all 😉 ).

I am not going to get into more technical details here as I am not that technical person myself nor it’s a post on meanders of stereoscopy. It’s definitely worth reading on that fascinating subject if you are not a specialist in the field and, to be honest, the mentioned issue of FilmPRO magazine gave me a good insight into the technical details as well as the historic aspects. For the purpose of this post, though, enough to say that stereoscopy is fascinating and if you’d like to learn more, this time from a critic’s point of view, check a post by Jasper Sharp on his blog: Cinematism, Realism, and Spectacle part 6: Changing our Focus – StreetDance 3D.

In the meantime, let’s watch The Flying Machine space and fingers crossed the final effect is worth the noise 😉

Below, as usual, is a bit of a moving picture…

Crulic – The Path to Beyond Gets A Special Mention at Locarno Festival

August 15, 2011 2 comments

The film festival in Locarno ended on Saturday and among this year laurels there is a special mention for a Polish-Romanian animated documentary. Is that the only reason I mention this particular film event here, on Frogs and Squash? Well, … 🙂

Anyway, Crulic – The Path to Beyond seems to be worth mentioning for at least a couple of reasons: the true story the plot is based on as well the mix of animated techniques the film uses to tell it. The film’s directed by Anca Damian (there is a nice interview with Anca Damian available from the Press section on Crulic website), produced by Aparte Film but also co-produced by Fundacja im. Ferdynanda Magellana and Romanian Ministry of Culture and the Romanian Heritage/ Editura Video, Krakow Festival Office.

Synopsis: Narrated from beyond the grave by its main protagonist, this animated feature-length documentary tells the life story of Crulic, a 33-year-old Romanian, who died in a Polish prison while on a hunger strike. On July 11, 2007, an important Polish judge is robbed and around 500 Euros are withdrawn using his credit cards. On September 10, Crulic is accused of the crime and brought to the Krakow Detention Centre, where he immediately starts a hunger strike. Claiming he was in Italy on the day of the theft, his demands are clear: he wants a meeting with a Romanian Consulate representative and another attorney. At the beginning of 2008, Crulic’s deteriorating health prompts the court to release him. But it is too late; the young man dies sixteen hours later. A strong visual style, the result of beautifully blending hand drawn, collage, stop-motion and cut-cut animation techniques, create a striking, surprisingly integrated and memorable film.

The true story: On the 11th of July 2007, a wallet belonging to an important Polish Judge, containing some credit cards, is stolen: on the same day, there are two withdrawals from the cards: total value, about 500 Euro. Crulic had previously been accused of another theft. On the 10th of September, he is accused of having stolen from the Judge on the 11th of July. Crulic is brought to the Krakow Detention Center Custody prison. He decided to start a hunger strike from the day he was arrested, asking for: a meeting with somebody from the Romanian Consulate, a change of the attorney. In exchange, the Consul writes an answer to Crulic, in which he advises him to put his trust in Polish justice. Crulic claimed he was in Italy at the day  of the theft, and not only the bus ticket, but also the record containing the passengers’ names, confirms his innocence. At the beginning of December, his detention  was lengthened by 3 months. In the first days of 2008, the man’s condition was already very bad. Finally, on the 11th of January the prison doctors, decided to force-feed him via a probe. A needle perforated Crulic’s pleura. That led to complications. Finally, the Court agreed to release the man so that he could be treated in a civilian hospital. The ambulance took Crulic to the Interior Ministry Hospital: he had muscular and tissue atrophy, and suffered from pneumothorax. He died after 16 hours. Press investigation started in both countries. The repercussions of the investigation have concluded with the resignation of the Minister of the Foreign Affairs, while in Poland, 3 doctors were officially accused of Crulic’s death.

Below, is the film’s trailer (others available from Crulic vimeo channel):

Crulic Trailer 1 from Crulic Movie on Vimeo.

Also, if you’d like to read even more on this interesting project, check these links out:

Screendaily review (which is also my source of the picture above)

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Polish Films at Ottawa Festival 2011

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Yep, Ottawa have announced their official selection today and here we have 5 Polish titles (in different categories and including co-productions). Let’s have a look:

1. Little Postman (Maly listonosz) by Dorota Kobiela (2011)

The film is an interesting production. It’s is made in 3D, however each frame is a piece of hand-painted 3 dimensional set.

Story: Set during the Warsaw Uprising, the Little Postman is a scout who is delivering mail around the war-torn city. Set to Chopin’s awe-inspiring revolutionary etude, Little Postman has our hearts beating fast as he shows his determination to deliver the mail whatever happens, with a little help from the Flying Machine…

2. Gallery (Galeria) by Robert Proch (2011)

This I mentioned in one of my previous posts.

Story: A pit bull’s patience is tested as his owner is drawn towards both the endless offerings in a surreal shopping centre and the affections of a classy dame. A seamless and artfully illustrative animation.

3. Night Island by Salvador Maldonado (2011)

Story: A merchant ship navigates through a terrible storm. Onboard a young girl tries to save her cat from being washed overboard. But a wave takes them both and they are swept into the sea. Waking up on a desolate beach, the girl encounters strange creatures that tempt her to stay on the mysterious island. In order to find her way back to her father’s ship she must liberate the music trapped in the undertow of the Night Island.

4. Underlife by Jaroslaw Konopka (2010)

A trailer of the film can be viewed here.

Story: Underlife is a film inspired by Lullaby directed by Krzysztof Komeda, which employs metaphor to show the destructive influence that ancestors have on man and poses a question if we are able to liberate from it. It raises the universal issue of subconscious determinants which condition and define our lives.

5. Plumm by Andrzej Dybowski, Pawel Blakala, Krzysztof Jedrzejek, Jakub Kosakowski & Przemyslaw Patyk (2011)

Story: Where the sky falls down on the ground and roofs of houses float above human heads, a little boy travels the world of children’s imagination. But, life is just a brief dream in the place where his dreams come true. At the end, a return to reality awaits, which will put the dreamer with a difficult choice. Although the decision the character makes exposes illusions of his childhood dreams, it also becomes an expression of devotion, a great friendship and hope that there is an ocean of miracles somewhere, of which we dreamed of when we were kids.

Ottawa Festival: Official Selection

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg’s award-winning The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, the new Pixar short La Luna directed by Enrico Casarosa, Bill Plympton’s Guard Dog Global Jam and Fernando Trueba & Javier Mariscal’s Spanish film Chico & Rita are some of the highlights of this year’s Ottawa International Animation Festival, it was announced today. (Read more)

For more, go to: Ottawa Festival: Selections

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