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Se-Ma-For Films at Festivals Worldwide (update)

June 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Se-Ma-For studio seems to be doing quite well recently in terms of attendance of their productions at various festivals worldwide.

This week studio announced on their website when and where you can see some of the titles, so let’s have a look:

Maska by Quay Brothers, Two Steps Behind… by Paulina Majda, as well as The Lost Town of Switez by Kamil Polak have been qualified to the 17th Palm Springs International ShortFest (21-27 June 2011). Also, Maska by Quay Brothers got into a competition at 19th International Animation Festival ANIMA MUNDI, which takes place in Rio de Janeiro (15-24 July 2011). (…)

If it’s not enough, three of Se-Ma-For productions have been accepted to Animator Festival competition in Poznan, Poland.

For more, visit this link: SE-MA-FOR AT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVALS.

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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? 😉

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!

Polish Film Festival Wisla in Moscow, Russia (15th April – 5th May 2011)

May 25, 2011 2 comments

The festival is over but I think it’s still worth mentioning. I am selective though as I am not going to write here about anything else than animated film. This year the event organisers dedicated a separate part of its programme to Polish animation with a special contribution from Se-Ma-For studio which screened some films but also gave a stop motion master class.

As a matter of fact, I think Se-Ma-For has been doing a pretty good job recently, at least PR-wise. They have been working hard to make sure everybody knows what the studio is about, what its history was, its achievements, and what films they currently work on. In the past it was widely known in Poland that the studio had had financial problems, and it changed its status from state organisation to private. Now it seems Se-Ma-For promotes their films everywhere – not only in Poland as they appear at festivals in Europe, America, Africa, now Russia. They have retrospective programmes but also their new productions get selected for competitions and get mentioned among winners. So all in all it looks great in the media, animated film is in the scope, which means Poland gets in the scope too. So, well done Se-Ma-For!

Yes, but getting back to the Moscow festival programme… The films shown in Moscow included a few titles from Marek Skrobecki but also Maska by Timothy Quay and Stephen Quay, Two Steps Behind… (Dwa kroki za…, 2010) by Paulina Majda and The Good, the Beauty and the Truth (Dobro, piekno, prawda, 2010) by Balbina Bruszewska (pretty interesting and very active animator who will get her own post here veeeery soooooon).

For more information (available in Polish and Russian), go first of all to the festival website or at least to a piece of news on Polish Television website.

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