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Danny Boy by Marek Skrobecki (2010)

May 20, 2011 5 comments

Today, let’s say, it is going to be a bit reflective day. Plus a bit of puppet mastery with a bit of post-production tricks. A bit of puppet animation history. And a bit of Fryderyk Chopin lookalike  in Danny Boy himself. 

Danny Boy is a film by Marek Skrobecki who wrote the script as well as directed it. It’s a story about human imperfection which can actually be called losing one’s head. You can lose presence of mind or good judgement through your crazy, insane emotions, etc. In this story almost everybody literally has lost their head. With one exception: Danny Boy, who, being a misfit, feels strongly alienated from the headless society. The film deals with the problem of loneliness of an individual and poses a question if one should level down standards in the name of social adjustment.

It has been selected for Academy Awards© 2011 in Best Animated Short category, so we’ll see what happens next. Just as a reminder (or to those who don’t know), Marek Skrobecki collaborates with a Polish renowned studio, Se-Ma-For, that appears as one of Danny Boy‘s producers alike. It’s also Se-Ma-For studio that was one of co-producers of an Oscar winner,  Peter and the Wolf by Suzie Templeton (2006).

Among Skrobecki’s films are such amazing pieces, like: D.I.M. (1992) or Ichtys (2005).

To sum it up shortly, let’s have a look at the making of Danny Boy from Sapristi Studio, the film’s post-production company.

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 🙂

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.

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!

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