‘The Pirate of Love vol 1’ by Sara Gunnarsdottir

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Cal Arts student Sara Gunnarsdottier explores the music of outsider artist Daniel C. a legend in Iceland, who was a mystery due to the lack of information about him.

Apparently Daniel C contacted the director and she is set to be making the Pirate of Love Part 2. If anyone has any further info on the progress of Volume 2, please do let us know!

https://vimeo.com/67457641

Review of ‘Kiss the Water’ by Eric Steel with animation by Em Cooper

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Last weekend I was lucky enough to go to the splendid Berwick Film and Media Arts Festival, to watch the documentary film ‘Kiss the Water’ by Eric Steel.The screening started at 11 am and I didn’t expect many people to be there at such an early time on a Sunday morning. However the auditorium was at least three quarters full. Following the screening was a lively Q&A session with animator Em Cooper and passionate audience members.

The film features animated segments by Cooper who has previously featured on animateddocumentary.com with her films 30% and Emergence. ‘Kiss the Water’ is not strictly an animated documentary, but the treatment of the animation is closely aligned to principles of animated documentary and therefore should be part of the discussion of the genre.

This is a slow film, suitable for a Sunday morning screening. The film is about the life of Megan Boyd, a Scottish woman who devoted her life to making flies for salmon fishing. She designed every fly she made and sourced the finest materials from all over the world. Her flies were famous amongst salmon fishers, and Megan received orders from all over the world. Megan died in 2003 and it was on reading her obituary that American Eric Steel felt the need to make a film about her.

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Megan spent her life living alone. She is described as ‘manly’ looking and every day she wore a tie and shirt with her tweed skirt. She drove a motor car and rode a motor bike and was remembered for her fast driving. Her home and adjoining fly-making shed, which is featured in the live action segments of film, is still standing, although it is now a ruin.

The treatment of the live action enables the animation to weave throughout it by various means. The interviews with people who knew Megan are set against a black backdrop, likewise the winding of the flies. The colours have been desaturated and there are some interesting edit decisions where the live action intercuts with the animation.

The animation is created using Cooper’s signature style of oil paint on glass. Cooper describes her self as a ‘live action film maker and animator’, as she often uses the filmed image as her source for the first frame of animation – a technique called Rotoscoping. In Cooper’s animated world, the camera is forever moving, searching through layers of oil paint, for glimpses of the figure of Megan. Thematic elements from the live action scenes and interviews are often revisited in the animation and metamorphosis features heavily to convey meaning, combining abstract elements. For example one of my favourite bits is Megan dressing herself, tying her infamous red tie, which turns into the same action used for the tying of the flies. These statements are significant in subtly addressing some of  the interesting aspects of Megan’s life – in this case the question over her sexuality.

I leave you with a segment from Megan’s obituary, from the New York Times in 2003

“Whose fabled expertise at tying enchantingly delicate fishing flies put her works in museums and the hands of collectors around the world and prompted Queen Elizabeth II to award her the British Empire Medal … From tiny strands of hair she made magic: the classic Scottish flies like the Jock Scott, Silver Doctor and Durham Ranger … and the fly named after her, the Megan Boyd, a nifty blue and black number famous for attracting salmon at the height of summer, when the water is low, hot, and dead.”

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‘Kiss the Water’ is available to buy as a DVD at the film’s website: http://buy.kiss-the-water.com/ and here is the trailer for the film: http://kiss-the-water.com/trailer/

‘The gift that keeps on giving’ by Jeff Lassahn

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http://theclusterproject.com/bombs/the-gift-that-keeps-giving/

A short, thought-provoking animation about the effects of cluster bombs. This film is part of a larger project called the Cluster Project, an online gallery of art works and space for dialogue on the ethics of warfare.

http://theclusterproject.com/

‘Blue Pelikan’ by László Csáki

Directed and animated by László Csáki, a Budapest based multi-disciplinary filmmaker and lecturer; ‘Blue Pelikan’ was produced under the award winning collective Umbrella.

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The animated short illustrates the tenacity of young Hungarians following the collapse of the Soviet empire. While in 1989 the boarders were suddenly free to cross, the dire economic climate put travel out of reach for most. This short film captures a youthful optimism in a time of enormous upheaval and emphasises how unsurpessable desires are incubated by years of restriction.

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Recorded conversations concerning methods of overcoming these limitations are set to vibrant, stylised and layered animation. The uncanny visual language primarily addresses mark making. So much so most of the characters are briskly sketched out in chalky outlines, leaving their flesh transparent. The relaxed conversation scenes are laid over backgrounds teaming with colour and movement. These settings comfortably jostle for the viewer’s gaze, aided by a well-executed hand held camera effect. Csáki has been able to create an authentic sense of immersion and artistic realism in the environments that are also so noticeably crafted.

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Csáki also demonstrates a clear aptitude for motion graphics. Most noticeably, one page of a train ticket metamorphoses into the next via a mesmeric shifting of lines along a grid. He also seems to relish the typographic form, placing great emphasis on the various detergent brands.

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Umbrella  represent twelve other filmmakers, all of whom have work available to watch on the website. This film was brought to my attention via our Vimeo friends at DoccoAnim.

‘Just a Mess’ by Laura Stewart

Laura Stewart, an animation student at Concordia University, recorded her grandmother during the 2012 winter holidays. Of the many stories she heard about life on Prince Edward Island in Eastern Canada, ‘Just a Mess’ stood out.

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Gentle banjo plucking is sprinkled behind this playful and charming claymation. The use of a folding map to tackle a set-design dilemma is an efficient and enjoyable solution.

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Occasionally the animation is a little jerky, the character design a little simplistic and the illusion of life size scale is never quite achieved, however any short comings pale in significance when considering the kind humour and delightful ease of the story telling.

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An extraordinary shot where the grandmother inhales fumes from the rotting skunk snouts stood out. The green wool tears its way up her nostrils as we watch at an uncomfortably close angle.

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Although there is a slight flippancy regarding animal welfare issues, Stewart’s job was to merely represent her grandmother’s story and not drag the historical tale through a complex of contemporary ethics.

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Laura Stewart continues to study Film Animation at Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University. Her progress is well documented on her blog.

‘StoryCorps Animated Shorts’ by the Rauch Brothers

StoryCorps is a US independent non-profit oral history project, charged with the task of recording, sharing and preserving personal stories of American lives. Many of the thousands of stories are broadcast weekly on National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition’ while a handful have been adapted into short animated documentaries.

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Image from ‘A Family Man’

The Rauch Brothers co-directed all fifteen of the shorts. The series demonstrates a strong influence from the school of American cartoons; Tim Rauch’s distinctly caricatured personalities inhabit beautifully constructed backgrounds designed by Bill Wray. The off-kilter geometry of the architecture and pastel colour palette is reminiscent of the 1960s-era ‘Pink Panther Show’, while the thick outlined digital character animation has a stronger connection to contemporary Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network kids animations.

Image from ‘Eyes on the Stars’

Image from ‘Eyes on the Stars’

Many of the StoryCorps recordings selected for animation deal with themes of mortality. ‘John and Joe’, ‘Always a Family’ and ‘She Was the One’ commemorate individuals lost in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, where family members recall their last conversations with loved ones. Meanwhile ‘Danny and Annie’, ‘Germans in the Woods’, ‘A Family Man’ and ‘No More Questions!’ deal with natural deaths. In some instances recordings were made with an elderly family member not long before their passing. Every reference to mortality is a celebration of that individual’s life, highlighting their idiosyncrasies and honouring memories of them.

Image from ‘She Was the One’

Image from ‘She Was the One’

Films like ‘Eyes on the Stars’, ‘Facundo the Great’ and ‘Icing on the Cake’ refer to the experiences of racial minorities, including stories of inequality and immigration. They are however told with a stereotypical American optimism and sentimentality. The people involved look back from improved circumstances, mocking the absurdity of racism or displaying awe and wonder for the struggles of their parents’ generation.

Image from ‘Facundo the Great’

Image from ‘Facundo the Great’

Eccentric personalities seems to be another theme which pops up in these films. ‘Sundays at Rocco’s’, ‘Q&A’, ‘The Human Voice’, ‘No More Questions!’ and ‘Miss Devine’ all feature domineering or uncongenial characters. These stories celebrate diversity and highlight the importance of individuality.

Image from ‘The Human Voice’

Image from ‘The Human Voice’

While many of the animations make reference to romantic or family love, ‘To RP Salazar, with Love’ concerns an extraordinary circumstance that leads to a digital age fairytale ending.

Image from ‘To RP Salazar, with Love’

Image from ‘To RP Salazar, with Love’

Occasionally the animation is noticeably clunky, in particular lip-synching feels a little rough. However the character designs are marvellous. The Rauch Brothers have sensitively depicted a variety of ethnic groups without leaning on illustrative clichés. Family members are designed with an appropriate level of genetic resemblance while managing to avoid looking identical and the exaggerated use of body language and posture helps bring the individuality of each character to life.

Image from ‘Miss Devine’

Image from ‘Miss Devine’

The StoryCorps project has now been running for ten years. An archive of the recordings is being collected at the American Folklife Centre at the Library of Congress. Although we couldn’t embed all the ‘StoryCorps Animated Shorts’ here, I recommend taking time to flick through them on the StoryCorp website.

‘The Chaperone 3D’ by Fraser Munden

The Chaperone 3D Trailer from Thoroughbread Pictures on Vimeo.

Something new here – I’m fairly certain this is the first animated documentary made in stereoscopic 3D that we’ve featured! Is this a new movement in animadoc film-making? It’s definitely one that I didn’t see coming.

Just the trailer available to view on Vimeo at present. The film has recently been premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. We look forward to reading reviews. It sounds intriguing…

“When told that bikers once invaded a middle school dance in a Montreal church basement, Neil Rathbone couldn’t believe it.

I said ‘No way that’s true. That’s the most outrageous thing I’ve ever heard,’ he recalled.

The story is told by Ralph Whims and Stefan Czernatowicz, who were the teacher/chaperone and DJ at the dance.

Rathbone said the film includes live action Kung Fu segments, puppets and exploding piñatas.

“It has a strong comedic flavour,” he said.

More from the interview with Rathbone here:
http://www.thespec.com/news-story/4070910-burlington-grad-s-animated-short-premieres-at-tiff/

“All in this together” Are benefits ever a lifestyle choice?’ by Dole Animators

 

The Dole Animators are a group of first time animation film makers living in Leeds UK. Together, they have made a film about their experiences of the coalition government recent welfare reforms and the impact of the changes on their lives.

The film challenges a mainstream media rhetoric, which states that people choose a life on benefits and that this ‘choice’ is an easy lifestyle choice.

The film has been made with support from a researcher Ruth Patrick and film maker Ellie Land. You can read more about the project at the website below:

http://doleanimators.wordpress.com/

‘Truth has fallen’ by Sheila Sofian

“If they’re not doing time for this, then surely for something else.”

The new film from US director Sheila Sofian, follows inmates on life sentences in the US prison system. Sofian “conjures up an inferno of expressive animations painted on glass, abstract re-enactments, and surrealist details, which condenses into a passionate appeal to politicians to abolish prejudgements and racial discrimination.”

The films world premier will be at Dok Leipzig this November and has been nominated for the Animadoc Award.

We have featured Sheila’s work on the blog before, most notably her writing on animated documentary.

We wish Sheila the best of luck with her new film and also her nomination for the Animadoc award!

http://films2013.dok-leipzig.de/de/film.aspx?ID=6096&title=Truth+Has+Fallen

‘Anima meets Doc: Expanded’ event at DOK Leipzig

This looks like a fascinating event at DOK Leipzig this October!

If any of our readers are going, we would love to hear from you. Event details are below:

Dear documentary and animation film lovers and makers,

we ‘d like to invite you to another great DOK Industry event: Anima meets Doc: Expanded, Thursday, 31 October 2013, 14:00 – 17:30, Ringcafé Leipzig

Anima meets Doc: Expanded widens its scope, inviting documentary, animation, trans and cross media makers to join us for an afternoon round table session of new discoveries and connections. Bigger, bolder, broader and under the guidance of 13 exciting table hosts from across these industries, be inspired by peers and forge new links outside of traditional genres, at one of DOK Leipzig’s most dynamic networking events.

This isn’t a traditional pitching or networking event, we won’t present specific projects or plan meetings for you. Instead we want to help you create meaningful working relationships with a broad cross-section of professionals, share experiences with like-minded colleagues and be inspired by forward, sideways and innovative thinkers.

The goal is connectivity: let’s establish a new community of exciting non-fiction storytellers!

You are working in:

– animation

– documentary

– in the trans or cross media world

– somewhere in between

You are looking for:

– partners to realise your next project which might be an animated documentary, multiplatform or outside traditional genre definition

– to get involved as a partner or collaborate on multidisciplinary projects

– inspiration outside your own area of expertise

– to meet like-minded film professionals

Please register via this link http://animameetsdok.wufoo.com/forms/z7x4m1/ before October 15. This event will have limited capacity so registration is a must! Stay tuned for the list of exciting table hosts!

Any questions? Get in touch with Katrin Haucke!