[edit 16th May – this video’s been taken down due to a copyright issue but we’ll let you know if it comes back online.]
“Waltz With Bashir is a documentary film that exists in a rare category (along with films like Close-Up and The House Is Black) in that it bends the generic conventions of its format, ultimately creating an experience that is truly unique. Its idiosyncratic blend of animation, music, and recorded interviews makes it a documentary that is both a sensory spectacle and an emotional journey. In our essay “Echoes of a Forgotten Past” we explore how director Ari Folman uses the seemingly contradictory elements of the animated documentary format to comment on the ethics of filmic representation and the cycle of historical trauma.”
‘The Vanni’ is a graphic novel set in Sri Lanka, India and the UK and follows the story of a fictional Tamil family living in a fishing village in Sri Lanka. The story starts in 2004 following the Tsunami and takes us through to the following conflict and then life for the family surviving as refugees.
The concept comes from Bejamin Dix, a former UN staff member who spent 4 years living in Sri Lanka until 2008 when all NGO’s were asked to leave Sri Lanka. He has teamed up with illustrator Lindsay Pollack. The story and images are based on his real life experiences of living and working with communities after the Tsunami and as refugees.
The graphic novel is still in production, but you can see an interactive preview on their website.
Christoph Steger directs a mixed-media, live-action and animated documentary centred on the cinematic aspirations of Jeffery H. Marzi, an outsider science fiction screenwriter. Steger and Meghana Bisineer adopt the visual language of Marzi’s illustrations, bringing a selection of his fantasy scenes to life. The animated sequences are interwoven with an observational documentary style that dominates the film.
Jeffery was born with brain damage. Although he exceeded doctors predictions concerning his learning ability, the 42 year old recognises his limitations and harbours anxiety about ending up homeless. Despite his preference for reliable work, as a mailman or mechanic, consistent rejection in the job market has led Jeffery to write and illustrate concepts for Hollywood blockbusters. For the past 15 years these have been photocopied and mailed to movie producers all around the world.
Channel 4’s Animate Projects scheme funded this documentary in 2008. Christopher Steger offered his insight in a video interview which is hosted on their website. “In lack of a better term…” Steger places Jeffery’s practice in the field of Outsider Art. Paraphrasing the sentiments of Jean Dubuffet and Rodger Cardinal, Steger describes the raw authenticity of emotion in Jeffery’s work, which is lacking in the self-aware, contextualised practices of trained artists.
Steger continues: “I like life, and animation is almost the opposite, it’s all about fantasy. So I felt a relief to be able to have Jeffery take care of all that. He does all the imaginary work of the visuals and it’s down to me to bring them to life…. The real film for me and the artistic challenge is in the structure of the poetry, and trying to bring out those poetic moments of a story like Jeffery’s.”
Steger’s film ‘Mother’ was featured on the blog in January 2013. He as recently made much of his work available on Vimeo.
Inspired by a performance of the ‘Asylum Monologues’, Sander-Jackson approached the writers for permission to adapt the play into a shot animated film. The narrative addresses mental anguish, firstly in regards to the atrocities that motivated the narrator to flee their homeland and secondly in regards to their experience of detention while seeking asylum in the UK. Forward Maisokwadzo, a Zimbabwean resident of Bristol, provided the voiceover while Sander-Jackson constructed the animated visuals through an ink-on-board technique.
Possibly due to similarities in their process, parallels can be drawn between this film and the charcoal animations of William Kentridge. In addition to the dank grey-scale palette that both artists adopt, the style of visual storytelling is metamorphic; a stream of pictorial references merging from one to the next. The sequential blurring of nightmarish scenes evokes the haunting and intangible nature of traumatic memory.
The film seems to exist in two forms; three minutes (available on George’s blog) and a one-minute-thirty version which can be found in DepicT!’s 2008 archive. This is the Watershed’s super-short filmmaking competition that operates as a part of Bristol’s Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival.
Sander-Jackson continued to develop the technique he used in ‘No-One is Illegal’ for a section of the feature film ‘A Liar’s Autobiography’, which I reviewed for this blog back in March 2013. George Sander-Jackson works as a director at Arthur Cox and teaches part time at the University of the West of England, Bristol.
No animation here, but a new way with documentary story-telling which we feel sure you’ll want to see!
Five years ago, the most iconic of David Lynch’s heroines, Isabella Rossellini, went from ‘Blue Velvet’ to ‘Green Porno.’ The actress and student of biology took on the characters of a mantis, a dolphin, a bedbug, a snail and many more, all for the purpose of enhancing our knowledge on the sex lives of animals.
These educational, experimental videos see Rossellini in full species costume, puppeteering her cardboard mates, whilst providing thoroughly researched narrative in her sultry accent.
Rossellini recently gave an interview for the Independent to discuss a new series for 2013, ‘Mamas’. This time she’s exploring maternal instincts in the animal kingdom.
For those who missed the online series (if you’re past the PG age) I’d recommend watching all of the ‘Green Porno’ videos.
As much an internet phenomenon as a short film, Annie Leonard and Free Range Studios have created a website which is the centre point for an online campaign which asks us to question our relationship to stuff, and consider where stuff comes from and goes to.
There are all sorts of resources on the website http://www.storyofstuff.org including several films, podcasts and downloads. The films have been used as educational tools and then criticised for politically manipulating children.