Posts Tagged ‘puppet animation’

Balbina Bruszewska About Fryderyk Chopin (in Animation)

July 5, 2011 1 comment

I think Fryderyk Chopin is one of those Poland’s distinctive features that are worshiped and proudly mentioned everywhere when we want to refer to ART rooted in our noble country. Chopin – unquestionably great composer whose pieces are best played mainly by… Japanese 🙂 Also, a good subject for a movie especially when you realise there was 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth last year. Could it be a good subject for an animation as well? Let’s see…

Today, in a large part, I would like refer to an article by Elzbieta Chowaniec, that was published last year in a Polish film industry related magazine, FilmPRO (Od kafla do serca; issue 3/2010, October – December). So if there is any significant update on the subject, that I don’t know of, feel free to let me know – will definitely appreciate it!

Balbina Bruszewska is a young (b. 1982) and talented director, writer, photographer and animator. She graduated from Lodz Film School and has currently been working at Se-Ma-For studio in Lodz, Poland. She won Grand Prix at the most important Polish music video event in 2009, Yach Film Festival, and Yach Film Audience Award in 2008. Hence, some even call her the Queen of the Polish music video industry. Her film The City Sails On from 2009 got awarded and mentioned at a number of Polish festivals too.

Her most current project is Heart in the Wall.  It does not aspire to be an illustration of Chopin’s life. His biography is rather treated as a good base for a story of friendship, adolescence and magic love that join together a 21st century girl, Ester and a 19th century pianist. It tries to understand on-going popularity of Chopin’s music as well as Chopin’s motifs for sending his heart after death to Poland to be placed in a pillar of one of churches in Warsaw.

Works on Heart in the Wall started in 2010 and it’s planned to be finished in 2 years time. It is a Polish-Swiss co-production and it seems that it’s going to be the first Polish puppet animated feature and have the biggest budget in history. Its first script draft actually won a pitching at Animafest in Zagreb as potentially the most successful project which later on helped promote the project abroad.

In terms of production process, the film’s crew decided to arrange 8 simultaneous sets where about 200 people would work. It would allow to finish the works within 18 months, hence the film’s budget is estimated at $7mln. There are two main co-producers: Se-Ma-For studio from Poland and Archangel Film Group from Switzerland and the works were planned to be divided between the two:  puppets, sets and shoots made in Poland with postproduction made in Switzerland. Along with Bruszewska two other co-directors are said to be working on the film: Yves Gutjahr and Mihaly Gyoerik.

The information published in media make the Heart in the Wall project look very interesting and promising. I very much look forward to its completion and premiere and genuinely hope it will be worth waiting. Since there’s not many pics available on the web yet, let’s – in the meantime – have a look at a sample of what Bruszewska is capable of. Below, you can see a showreel:


but for more, visit a few other links:

– sepukuPARTY’s Channel on Youtube


Heart in the Wall (opens as .pdf)

Balbina Bruszewska – film maker


Se-Ma-For Studio Tours (update)

July 4, 2011 Leave a comment

Two posts appeared on Se-Ma-For studio website recently:

1. DANNY BOY WINS IN TRANSYLVANIA. JOYETS STILL AT FESTIVALS – another award for Danny Boy by Marek Skrobecki along with another acceptance to a festival for Joyets by Magdalena Osinska.

2. SE-MA-FOR ON TOUR IN ODESSA – from 1st till 3rd July 2011 audience in Odessa, Ukraine had a chance to see the studio productions at U-Cinema.

Check both links for details.

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? 😉

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 😉

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

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.

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