Saturday, 27 October 2012



directed by Tatia Rosenthal

A stop-motion animation story about people living in a Sydney apartment complex looking for meaning in their lives.

(an user review from IBDM):
An Australian-Israel independent animation clay movie that tells the story of a group of lonely people living in the same block of apartments. The story is told, mainly through 28 year old unemployed Dave Peck, who buys books by post for only $9.99, one of them about the meaning of life. But we also see his depressive father, his disconnected brother, a commercial sexy model, an elderly widower, a father living with his only child, a young couple in crisis, an "angel", and a former magician.

This is a film for adults that examines adult themes (loneliness, immaturity, lack of love and purpose in life, lack of communication in society), with drug use, nudity and explicit sex scenes included. It also has some surrealist touches in between, that I found delightful.

The clay animation is very cartoonish in a way, odd-looking at first, but very original, with great movement and good facial expressions, realistic clothing and body language. I loved all the decoration of the flats, all the little details inside them, which help to draw visually the character of the people living in them. The city landscapes and city spots are also lovely. The colours and mood of the movie are excellent, and also the music.

The individual stories are great - fresh, believable, and poignant. They depict well the sins and deficiencies of modern society, and the social distress in which many people live. They also show real Australian characters and attitudes, those that you'd find in real world, in your own block of apartments. Raw Australia without sweetener.

The main problem of the movie is the lack of a real plot. In most cases we are just witnesses of the lives of those people, but we do not understand why are in a certain state or why they act in a certain way, what troubles them inside and moves them to act in a certain way - Lack of depth. Only after watching the movie, I learnt that the story is based in different short stories by Etgar Keret, which explains in part the lack of harmony of the film, and the disconnection of some of the individual stories. The scriptwriter is to blame for not finding an element that gives consistency to the whole film and not blending well the individual stories.

In fact, the aim of the movie might not be clear to the viewer. All the part about the purchase of books is unnecessary. Many people will think that the meaning of life is what the movie is all about, when in fact the movie shows that life does not have any meaning, at least for the characters of the story, and that life is what it is. So, why confusing the viewer with elements that don't add anything to the characters or the story line? I think it is a very interesting and original film with great characters that deserves to be watched despite its flaws.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Adam Elliot

Adam Elliot
Film director, Animator, Writer

Fakt 914: Alcohol can cause drunkenness and nudity.

Adam Elliot is an Australian independent stop-motion animation writer and director and Oscar winner for his short animation Harvie Crumpet.  Based loosely on his family and friends, Elliot makes bitter-sweet charming stories of slightly mismade characters.  His first short animation films, the trilogy - Uncle, Cousin and Brother, have built his international recognition as a master storyteller, and his first feature film Mary and Max, is without doubt my favourite animation movie.




Harvie Crumpet

Mary & Max official trailer

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Miloš Tomić

Miloš Tomić
Artist, Film director, Animator, Radio presenter

Miloš Tomić is a Serbian filmmaker, who currently lives and works in Belgrade.  He is one of the founding members of the legendary kruzhok 'Bumpkins in pudding', a passionate collector, patient collagist, and short films and music videos director.  He took part in many films, art exhibitions and even the army.  He was part of the 90's Belgrade radio show 'Beautiful Rhythm of the Heart' with Saša Marković Mikrob, Igor Brakus, members of the band Jarboli and many others. 

Clay Pigeon

A love game on the grass with horror elements.


Hairs of several girls, wriggling and unfolding on porcelain plates in the sunlight.  An animation made with scalpel, girls hair and a lot of patience.

Spitted by Kiss

An obsessive story about a young man who lives on the street, literally, slides on concrete, falls in love with the girls passing by, and hangs out in the worlds of street junk.

More Tomić's films and art you can find at

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Michel Gondry

Michel Gondry

Film and music video director, Producer, Screenwriter, Animator

I wrote about Norman McLaren and how he experimented with image and sound, combined and synchronized animation with music.  Michel Gondry is a French film and music director who  in his videos is working with visualising sound and notes as well.

„Bass: athletes with small heads and big legs, because they are hysical, move constantly and have no time to think.
Guitar: sceletons, because they sound itchy.
Synthesizer: disco girls, because it sound feminine.
Vocoder: robots – it's obvious why.
Drum machine: Mummies. Please don't ask why.“

Gondry talking about the music video for the song Around the World by Daft Punk.

Michel Gondry could be considered as an contemporary video artist in the tradition of Oskar Fischinger. Fischinger's early artistic goal was to combine two of his great passions, music and the graphic arts.  Gondry himself works closely with musicians and creates visual parallels to the elements of musical form.  He said: "I looked at the rhythms, and I replicated an abstraction, which made my videos closer to what the musicians usually meant in the beginning. I could never be exact in my work, and that was a good thing."

For Piano Painting Gondry uses inspiration from his son's art class to make a device that creates shots of circularly spilling paint.  The device itself is attached to Björk's fingers that are playing the piano, and in that way the patterns that are made are directly depending of the notes that are played.  The visual effect that he gained that way Gondry used for the opening scene of his movie La science des revês.

Another very charming music video/animation is Fell in Love with a Girl (White Stripes) that Gondry made with his young son:

And this short animation Gondry made as a birthday present for his friend Karen, who likes to ride on her horse:


Norman McLaren

Norman McLaren
Director, Producer, Screenwriter, Animator, Composer

Scottish-born Canadian animator and film director known for his work for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB), whose film career spanned more than 50 years, and who was considered an artist, film-maker, scientist, inventor, musician and technical expert as well as animator.  His films are masterful creations designed to provoke an aesthetic response, although they also inform, amuse and entertain.
He was a pioneer in a number of areas of animation and film making  including drawn on film animation, visual music, abstract film, pixalation and graphical sound.  McLaren developed a number of ground breaking techniques, experimenting with image and sound, combining and synchronizing animation with music. 

Begone Dull Care

Begone Dull Care was a result of his collaboration with the Oscar Peterson trio  "(Oscar Peterson and Norman McLaren) worked together for four days developing the music.  At times Peterson would play variations enabling McLaren to visualise colours and movements, and other times McLaren would describe specific music he wanted for a special effect." (from Valerie T. Richard's book Norman McLaren, Manipulator of Movements).

Blinkity Blank

Arguably McLaren's most important film, Blinkity Blank is a hypnotic dizzying experience - a perfect expression of McLarens affinity for rhythmic interplay.  He carved, scratched or coloured images directly onto almost every frame of the filmstrip, leaving between one and four blank frames between drawings, Maynard Collins (author of Norman McLaren, a major book on the filmmaker) explains McLaren’s pioneering theory on film and movement: “(Mc­Laren) discovered that, if shown three or four frames, the eye retained the last image the longest, the first image next and the middle image the least. With this knowledge, he used the intervening blank spaces to create movement... The motion within the film is an illusion .. The story is not so much told by the drawings as implied by the blank spaces between the drawings.”


Neighbours is McLaren's probably most famous Oscar winning anti-war film from 1952.  For this film McLaren used a technique known as pixilation, an animation technique using live actors as stop-motion objects.  The National Film Board of Canada distributed for some years a version of the film that excluded the two shots of a violent attack on the wife and child, but in 1969 the original version was reinstated and is now the only one in distribution.

Creative Process: Norman McLaren

In 1990, a few years after McLaren's death, Donald McWilliams made this documentary, a journey into McLaren's process of artistic creation.  A gold mine of experimental footage and uncompleted films, this documentary explores McLaren's innovative and experimental methods, the ways in which he dealt with music and visuals, and his celebrated pixillation technique.  You can see the full documentary here:

Full archive of McLaren's oeuvre can be found here:

Friday, 5 October 2012


Oswald Cromheecke is an illustration student at Sint Lucas school of arts in Gent.

In his second year of studies he made this lovely animation:

and this year, he made a music video with his friend Boris Bonne, for the band Oscar and the wolf:

you can find them here:

Soviet Propaganda Animation

Cinema Circus, 1942, L. Amalrik and O. Khodataeva, 3’36’’
One of a handful of animated short “political posters” that survived World War II, this one ridicules Hitler and his cronies. The master of ceremonies is a caricature of the USSR’s most famous clown, Karandash, whose name means pencil in Russian.

Someone Else’s Voice, 1949, I. Ivanov-Vano, 9’25’’
Written by Sergei Mihalkov, a popular children’s poet who also wrote the lyrics to the Soviet National Anthem. Jazz was an early victim of the Cold War, condemned as “an enemy of the people.” Still, whatever the official policy, jazz was popular in the USSR and was used in the score of many later propaganda shorts.
Ave Maria, 1972, I. Ivanov-Vano, 9’36’’
Also known as “Against American Aggression in Vietnam,” this film is as anti-war as anti-American and portrays the Church as an actively  malignant social influence.
Interplanetary Revolution , 1924. N. Khodataev Z. Komisarenko and Y. Merkulov, 7’49’’
Fervent Bolsheviks export the Revolution to Mars. When capitalists escaping Earth arrive on Mars, they find the comrades already there, having a party congress beneath a banner of Lenin.
The Millionaire, 1963, V. Bordzilovsky and Y. Prytkov, 9’54’’
Based on a poem for children by Sergei Mihalkov.
Shooting Range, 1979, V. Tarasov, 19’18’’
Tarasov, a fan of J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye,” modeled the film’s hero on Holden Caulfield. An artist as well as an animation director, Tarasov combed through back issues of “America,” a magazine published by the U.S. government during the Cold War, and American comic books, to lovingly create the film’s fabulous New York City back drop. Based on a play by V. Slatkin.
( intermezzo )

We’ll Keep Our Eyes Peeled , 1927, N. Khodataev Group, 2’45’’
Britain’s foreign secretary, Lord Curzon, tries to sabotage development of the fledgling Soviet Union with a trade embargo. Defiant Soviets buy government bonds (obligazia) and a new industrial nation is born. Soviets were regularly forced to “save” the economy from ruin, or fight the war, by buying “obligazia.” Throughout the years, the State promised to redeem the bonds, but rarely did until the Gorbachev era, but even that government did not honor many. The obligatzia were printed on good paper and so beautiful some people used them as wallpaper.
Mister Twister, 1963, A. Karanovitch, 15’37’’
Based on the popular children’s poem written in 1933 by Samuel Marshak who is also credited with writing the script. During the USSR school children regularly memorized the Marshak poem. In 1920 he founded, one of the first children’s theaters in the Soviet Union, and wrote plays for it. Highly effective in persuading gifted writers and artists to write for children, he also headed the Children’s Section of the State Publishing house. During the years of the Stalin terror, the Section came under attack for its alleged bourgeois leanings. Members the group were accused of being associated with “Samuel Marshak, Enemy of the People.” They were interrogated, killed, and  sent to labor camps in Siberia and the Arctic.
To You Moscow, 1947, G. Lomidze, 17’39’’
An animated history of the city of Moscow, including the Nazi invasion, made to honor of the city’s 800th anniversary.
Samoyed Boy, 1928, V. and Z. Brumberg N. Khodataev and O. Khodataeva, 07’05’’
A classic Soviet animation and the first film for children. It was done in the tradition of the primitive paintings of the USSR’s Northern peoples (like Chukcha and Eskimos). It was the first Soviet film based on the culture of the Northern people.
Log Jam, 2008, Alexei Alexeev, 0’58’’
Not exactly Russian propaganda, more like Nickelodeon.  Just to end on a light note.