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In the Mood for Winter… by Anna Blaszczyk

December 20, 2011 Leave a comment

WINTER from Anna Blaszczyk on Vimeo.

 

direction/aimation/artdesign……….Anna Błaszczyk
music………..Aleksandra Siemieniuk
camera……….Piotr Gorszczyński, Anna Błaszczyk

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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.

***

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.

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 On July 11, 2007, an important Polish judge is robbed and around 500 Euros are withdrawn using his credit cards.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)

Facebook fanpage

A Bit of DIY For a Good Start of the Week

August 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Polish Films at LIAF 2011 (26th August – 4th September)

August 1, 2011 Leave a comment

London International Animation Festival is coming back to town! The 8th edition of the event, that is said to be the biggest of its kind in the UK, is moving to a new venue this year (which is our beloved Barbican). The festival programme sounds exciting for quite a number of reasons but let me mention here only one: Polish animation! Yeay!… 🙂

Yep, as announced on LIAF website, we’ll be able to see what’s best in the latest Polish animation and by the latest I’d say I mean the first decade of 21st century. Some of the films have been mentioned on Frogs and Squash, so there is a chance you already got the feeling. Among others, there are such jewels as Dokumanimo by Malgorzata Bosek (2007), Gallery by Robert Proch (2009), Paths of Hate by Damian Nenow (2010), Danny Boy by Marek Skrobecki (2010), Millhaven by Bartek Kulas (2010) or The Lost Town of Switez by Kamil Polak (2010).  For full details of the two sets of films, go to: Focus on Poland 1 and Focus on Poland 2.

Another exciting thing in the programme is 2 master classes that are supposed to be led by (one of my faves, I must admit) Wojtek Wawszczyk. For details, again, follow the link: Wojtek Wawszczyk Master Class 1 & 2. These will be followed by George the Hedgehog screening (Wojtek’s latest feature) and Q&A with the director.

Also, there is a few Polish productions in the competition!

For info I refer you to the LIAF website. All bookings to be made through Barbican website.

Should Animated Films Be Widely Available Online

July 20, 2011 2 comments

Yes, that’s a good question. Is that the question? Will an answer to it change the Earth’s shape from spherical to, let’s say, the one of banana? Well, not necessarily. And sometimes I even think this question has risen so many times that asking it again feels like a broken record…

However, two weeks ago I attended an amazing meeting / lecture / workshop (all included, I would say) with Caroline Leaf. It was within Barbican animation season. I went there with a friend who I hadn’t seen for quite a while, so we both thought it would be great to meet up on, let me put it this way, the occasion of Caroline Leaf. The funny bit was in the very beginning when we tried to enter the gallery 7 minutes before the event and were told it would be open exactly at 7:30pm. So we came back exactly at 7:30pm just to realise the gallery was already full with no free seats whatsoever (my poor back, I’m tellin’ ya!…).

Anyway, the whole event with Leaf-animator-artist was an amazing thing to experience. She went through her biography, explaining tricks of her animation techniques, presenting a number of her films but also she, literally, showed the way she worked with sand in order to animate it. It was all fascinating but for me the best part was to be able to watch this very fine lady and the way she considered herself as an artist. There was no buffoonery nor arrogance. Instead, we could see a very modest and wise lady who patiently answered all questions that she must have heard thousands of times. Somehow I like meeting such women – it builds respect and maybe even gives a good example to follow in forming the right shape of one’s femininity if you know what I mean…

Oh yes, there was one question in particular that has become the title for this post. Interestingly enough… when you ask them, all artists usually say they want to protect their copyrights, their right to gain profit from their work which they, obviously, worked on really hard. Nevertheless, the films are available on Youtube or some other Vimeo channels. Sometimes the artists claim profit from clicks on ads appearing along with the films. Very often, however, complete strangers upload the films and, without any permission, make them available to the world. And here comes what Caroline Leaf said – she doesn’t mind her films to be available as it means a wide audience is able to find them and get to know her, the artist. And she doesn’t get any royalties from showing the films anyway as they were produced while at NFB of Canada, so it’s not a matter of profit for her.

Well, perhaps this is just an individual case and an individual point of view that should not be considered as a general rule. Still, I think it’s good to know the variety of opinions on this matter. If you want to think of other views (or have your own! please share!), I recommend that you follow Animated Shorts: Sell or Give Away for Free? link where Amid and his readers discuss the subject through the prism of Bob Godfrey’s films. At some point in time the films were available on a VOD site but somehow I cannot find the website now nor any info on what might have happened to it. Perhaps the rights owners have tried a number of ways to make the films widely available but none of them actually worked they way they had expected?… So instead I am giving you a link to… wikipedia 😉

And below, is wonderful The Street by Caroline Leaf from 1976. Enjoy!

This week at Barbican: Animator Bretislav Pojar

July 7, 2011 2 comments

I sort of have a feeling that East European animation is trendy nowadays, esp. when you think of a number of screenings in the West that you can attend recently. I’m not saying it’s bad. Actually, completely the opposite. And even though Poland or Czech Republic are geographically much closer to the UK than let’s say Japan or Australia, these countries are still considered a bit exotic, me thinks. Sure, we all know the historic background attached to such view… (and if not, Google it, please or go to the nearest library… before it’s shut forever… 😉 )

Anyway, speaking of Czech Republic… This week on Tuesday, there was a nice screening organised by Barbican with a Q&A session afterwards led by acclaimed Clare Kitson. She was once a speaker guest at ReAnimacja festival, that I used to co-organise, so I had a pleasure to meet her and work with her on a part of the festival programme. And despite the fact I didn’t have a chance to talk to her this time, it was good to see this very fine lady in action again.

Bretislav Pojar (check this link for a few other useful links too!), as he was the one the screening was dedicated to, is a Czech animator, puppeteer and director of animated shorts and features. He was a close colleague of Jiri Trnka and he worked on a number of his films. Although his professional connection to Trnka is indisputable, Pojar himself stresses the difference between the films of the two animators and doesn’t really want to look at his own productions through the prism of Trnka’s. Enough to say Trnka was above all a painter, while Pojar – as he says – already knew the language of film as well as was very much inspired by Italian neorealism when he started making his own shorts. He thinks animation is similar to hypnotism: When someone isn’t much of an animator, the puppet moves. When he is good, the puppet lives his life like each of us.

Pojar’s films screened at Barbican gave an overview of changes in the animator’s style as they were presented chronologically. I cannot find any of them online, so am not able to show you any of them either. However, this makes my Tuesday evening even more special and I’m really happy for… myself! 😉 Anyway, it’s really amazing how I can admire basically all of the films shown at the screening (well, maybe apart from one…) and don’t know which to choose to describe here! Especially that I think I am a very picky person…

I guess I’ll go with all of them, one by one then 😉 So, first of all, I didn’t like A Drop Too Much (1953) shown as the first from the queue. It was sort of light and witty and it’s a good thing. But it was also an educational film about tragic consequences of combining drinking and driving (or rather riding as we’re actually talking here about riding a motorcycle). Too moralistic in its overall message and I didn’t find the year of production to be a good excuse.

I loved The Lion and the Song from 1959 that was awarded, among others, Grand Prix at 1960 Annecy festival. A story of travelling harlequin that faces a lion in the desert. It’s said to be an allegory for the struggle of art against power but for some reason the film didn’t have any censorship problems at the time of release. As Pojar admitted at the Q&A session, the problems started after the release of his next film, Bomb Mania, and it had its effect on The Lion and the Song rather retrospectively.

A Few Words of Introduction from (1962) is a great pastiche on the way natural born speech makers consider themselves, prepare their speeches but also the way they THINK their listeners appreciate their words. And not much more matters than keeping the appearances. How current is that, ha? And how current is the way Pojar shows a coquettish young lady looking for love and/or money who is finally left with nothing? Oh, as a matter of fact she’s left with a puppy that somehow had not found a replacement for her charms while she was gone and chasing whatever she was actually looking for. And that was Romance from 1962.

Darwin/Anti-Darwin or What the Rain Worm Didn’t Suspect is a cut-out animation from 1969. Although Pojar’s films are mainly animated with puppets, this one proves that if you have a good idea for a story, you can use whatever technique you want and the film will be good anyway. It’s a funny idea of a worm evolving into a human and then… wishes it hadn’t 🙂 Another funny thing is that this film, as Pojar said, did not have problems with censorship either. Perhaps as the censors didn’t know who Darwin was. 

And last but not least – Nightangel made in 1986. Ladies and Gentlemen, this film is very interesting for a couple of reasons. First of all, it’s a story of a blind man in which Pojar shows us the way the main character experiences his very own reality. Secondly, the film combines two techniques: puppets and pinscreen, while adding colour to the latter (new thing at the time of production). All that creates a film that is hard to forget.

Below, you can find one of Pojar’s shorts that is actually not puppet animation at all. It’s funny though and that’s the reason for me presenting it to you.

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