‘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.

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‘Feeling My Way’ by Jonathan Hodgson

Annabelle Honess Roe recently released the cover image of her new book, ‘Animated Documentary’ (published by Palgrave), on her ‘Animating Documentary’ blog. The image features a still from the film ‘Feeling My Way’ by Jonathan Hodgson. Honness Roe indicates the personal significance of this film when she writes that it ‘…first got me thinking about how animation can function in documentary.’

Commissioned by Channel 4’s Animate Projects and Arts Council England in 1997, the director, Jonathan Hodgson, combines live action point-of-view shots filmed in 35mm and Digibeta, overlaid with hand painted and drawn animation.

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Hodgson has been able to observe and deconstruct the thought processes which occur passively when one is engaging with one’s surroundings. This is a phenomenon which takes place when no deliberate attempt is made to think clearly about a particular topic. Personally, I am impressed by the lucidity and universal sense of subjectivity this film evokes. Simina Pitur comments on the film’s Vimeo page ‘At last, I have found a piece of art that accurately translates what I feel 24/7.’

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Rather than beginning by storyboarding, I wonder whether Hodgson first filmed his journey then tried to deconstruct why his eye was drawn in a certain way, or for what reason he was not actively observing anything. I am fascinated by how he was able to capture what is often an abstract cognitive experience in a believable sequence.

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While I often expect I am viewing my surroundings with the crisp objectivity of a video image in fact it is more likely my attention is shifting between weighted content, be it appealing or repulsive. I sometimes observe in hindsight that while on auto-pilot my mind had been taken completely from my surroundings. This film tangibly depicts subjectivity with rare effectiveness. Such a feeling of recognition of one’s self in another person’s work is more commonly restricted to less subtle field of observational stand-up comedy!

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‘Feeling My Way’ is strangely reminiscent of a scene in James Cameron’s ‘The Terminator’.  In an introductory scene the audience is granted the point of view of the murderous robot in which a combination of audio-visual information is processed by recognition software and cross-referenced with a database. These relatively crude visualisations help the artificially intelligent machine to navigate and decode its surroundings. Google have recently produced ‘Glass’ a voice-command operated headset with a transparent eyeglass frame-mounted screen. This allows you to observe the world augmented by smart device abilities such as satellite navigation and Google search. As this sort of technology develops and becomes more prevalent our technological experiences might become tangibly close to some of the scenes depicted in ‘Feeling My Way’.

‘Heirlooms’ by Susan Danta and Wendy Chandler

Heirlooms from Wendy Chandler on Vimeo

Recently screened as part of the animadoc programme at the Tricky Women festival, Vienna, here’s a compilation of short episodes from a series made for Australian broadcaster SBS.

In each episode a possession passed down the generations recalls memories and family histories, often of migration and war.

‘Lies’ by Jonas Odell

Lies – Part 1 – Directed by Jonas Odell from FilmTecknarna on Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/32735700

If you like ‘Never Like the First Time’ you may enjoy this, the first of three first person narratives, from a film which won at Sundance 2009.

Review from Short of the Week here.