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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.

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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? ūüėČ

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 ūüėČ

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

Polish Films at MIAF (19-26th June 2011)

June 20, 2011 Leave a comment

And here I am – back from holiday, happy, relaxed and ready do face challenges of reality! I have a few things to post in the nearest future – especially that I managed to pay a visit at Annecy – but in the meantime let’s have a look at Australia, where Melbourne International Animation Festival¬†started just yesterday. And it’s a great chance – for all animation lovers – to see 3 amazing Polish sets too!

For details on those and other screenings, follow the link: MIAF 2011 Sneak Peak.

One of the Polish films included in the MIAF programme is Wywijas by Andrzej Sobczyk (2008).

Blind Date by Nigel Davies (2010)

June 10, 2011 Leave a comment

Let’s think local today – Blind Date by Nigel Davies from 2010. It’s one of the participants of competition screenings at Annecy this year. And Annecy is happening just now! ūüôā

I’ve never had a blind date. Have you?

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? ūüėČ And does it make you feel like going for a ride?

Polish shorts in Annecy

May 19, 2011 4 comments

I cannot remember another edition of Annecy animation festival (6 – 11th June 2011) where there were so many Polish short films allowed in competition. This year there are (including¬†co-productions) 7 of them and I find it extraordinary! However, the films in question do deserve to be there and fingers crossed for the results ūüôā

Let’s have a look at the Polish input:

1. The Lost Town of Switez (Switez, 2010) by Kamil Polak

Story: An accidental traveller, drawn by mysterious forces, discovers the secret of a ghostly town which lies at the bottom of a forgotten lake.

This film deserves attention for other reasons, too. It’s based on Adam Mickiewicz’s ballad Switez and it took goooood long years to finish this 20 mins animation. It is a combination of 3D animation with large scale oil paintings. Creators used two historical styles of painting: 19th century Slavonic realistic painting that you can find in works of Jozef Chelmonski or Aleksander Gierymski; and much more iconic painting of the Middle Ages¬†that used bright colours. For more information on The Lost Town of Switez as well as Kamil Polak, go to the film’s web site¬†(all content available in English). And the trailer below:

2. Paths of Hate (2010) by Damian Nenow

Story: A short tale about the demons that slumber deep in the human soul and have the power to push people into the abyss of blind hate, fury and rage.

Paths of Hate¬†is the third film made by Damian Nenow who is a specialist in various fields relating to computer graphics and the author of short animated films, illustrations and concept arts.¬†The film’s producer is Platige Image – a leading Polish post-production studio that specialises in creating computer graphics, 3D animation, special digital effects and image composition for advertising and feature-length productions.

3. Maska (2010) by Timothy Quay and Stephen Quay

Story:¬†Beautiful Duenna was created in order to carry out a certain mission. However, she will be forced to choose…

Although Quay brothers are not really Polish (Americans living and working in the UK), they decided to collaborate with Polish Se-Ma-For studio on this production. It’s the latest puppet animation from these artists with a screenplay based on Stanislaw Lem‘s novel of the same title.

As I’ve had some problems with copying and pasting the film’s trailer on to Frogs and Squash, please follow the like to Twitch Film site to see it: Maska (trailer)

4. Two Steps Behind (Dwa kroki za, 2010) by Paulina Majda

Story: The story of a boy who one day decides to leave his country house and embarks on a journey to a strange city.

The film’s trailer can be watched on Se-Ma-For web site as the studio appears once again as one of the film’s producers. Also,¬†Paulina has her own blog and I strongly recommend visiting it – all in English!

5. Millhaven (2010) by Bartek Kulas (the whole film is available in one of my previous posts on Frogs and Squash)

6. Zbigniev’s Cupboard (2010) by Magdalena Anna Osinska

Story:¬†Zbigniev and Henio have a difficult relationship. Zbigniev is more interested in hoarding items he collects on the black market than playing chess with his father. He is always after more space and more items to fill that space until he finally manages to purchase a precious cupboard on the black market of 1970s Poland, much to his father’s annoyance.

Zbigniev’s Cupboard from Magdalena Osinska on Vimeo.

7. Pl!ink (2011) by Anne Kristin Berge

Story: An abstract artist needs to loosen up. His toddler obliges by taking him on a white-knuckle ride inside his own paintings.

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