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Posts Tagged ‘Barbican’

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!

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Polish School of Animation: Screenings Worldwide (update)

July 11, 2011 Leave a comment

As we all know by now, there’s going to be an exhibition at Barbican presenting films widely known as Polish School of Animation. That’s the 14th July 2011. HOWEVER, if you’re not living in London, you may still have a chance to see them…

Enough to say now that the screenings will take place in Beijing (China), Kiev (Ukraine), Berlin (Germany), and Tokyo (Japan). Now, let me just copy/paste an extract from an official announcement of the organisers and then follow the respective link to find out more (list of films included, dates, places and… more links 🙂 ).

The project “Polish School of Animation, its Observers and Continuators” aspires to give international recognition to the more-than-fifty-years-old output of Polish animation. “Polish School of Animation” – the validity of term application remains pending up to this day – came into being in the second half of the fifties as one of the most interesting artistic phenomena of Polish post-war culture, connected strongly – not only by personal ties – with the famous “Polish School of Poster”. We cannot disregard the fact that its emergence is included in the movement of “national schools” birth in animation, particularly intense in our part of Europe in late fifties and early sixties.
The movement was initiated and led by Jan Lenica and Walerian Borowczyk, cooperating at that time. Their jointly made films, like “Był sobie raz” (“Once Upon a Time”) (1957), “Nagrodzone uczucia” (“Love Requited”) (1957), “Dom” (“The House”) (1958), “Sztandar Młodych” (The Colours of Young”) (1958) contributed to the breakthrough in Polish animated film which became – as in other countries – treated as a message aimed at adult audience, taking up the most complicated subjects and issues, on high level of artistic communication. (Read more)


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.

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.

Polish School of Animation at Barbican (14th July 2011)

May 10, 2011 4 comments

I have just learnt that Barbican in London, UK scheduled a nice screening in collaboration with Etiuda&Anima Festival and the London International Animation Festival. As it is announced on the Barbican website, it is going to be world première retrospective of four film programmes that chart the history of Polish animation from the 1950s to the present day including seminal works by Jan Lenica, Walerian Borowcyzk, Józef Robakowski, Jerzy Kucia and Zbigniew Rybczyński. 

Tickets go on sale to the general public from 10th May 2011. Don’t miss it! For details visit Barbican web site.

Jerzy Kucia – Krag (The Ring, 1978). Enjoy this and the screenings in Barbican!

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