January 22nd, 2009

drawing, old man

Yuriy Norshteyn in Burbank, California. 1999

Vitaliy Shafirov, a former student of Tatarskiy who left for America and worked at Klascy Csupo studio (now he is in Australia), put up a video about Norshteyn's trip to California, 10 years after the fact:
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Click here to download in better quality:
113MB

(posted to norshtein also)

P.S. I'm working on an article about Norshteyn's "Good Night Children" sequence from 2000. I already posted the video to norshtein, over here, so head on over and take a look if you haven't already.


P.P.S. Just a PSA: Fan-profiles for Yuriy Norshteyn exist on MySpace and Facebook.
drawing, old man

"Lavatory - Lovestory" nominated for Oscar

Konstantin Bronzit's short film "Lavatory - Lovestory" (2006) has been nominated for an Oscar. Congratulations!

(the sign at the end of the film says "Worker Urgently Needed")

This makes Bronzit the third Russian animator to have been nominated for an Oscar. Aleksandr Petrov has been nominated 4 times (and won once), and Aleksey Khariditi has also been nominated once for his film "Gagarin". Most recently, Petrov was nominated last year, even though his film was also released in 2006 like Bronzit's. I don't know, Oscar rules are strange.

The first time I saw Mr. Bronzit's work was at a retrospective of his short films at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2006. In fact, it was one of the few good things that I saw there. I enjoyed it very much, with my favourites being "Switchcraft" and especially "At the Ends of the Earth" (links go to videos). "Lavatory - Lovestory" was finished or nearly finished at that time, but Bronzit did not bring it to the festival, explaining that it was "psychologically too soon". He considered it to be the best of his films. Now that I have seen it, I wouldn't agree with that, but it is indeed a good film. The strongest moment comes at the very last scene. Bronzit studied under Yuriy Norshteyn and other masters in the late 1980s, and Norshteyn has given high praise to his work.

Yet I must say that this was not my favourite Russian animated film from 2006. Its profile is higher internationally than almost any of the others because Bronzit has one of the largest international profiles of any Russian animator, thanks to his feature film work with Melnitsa and to his past association with Folimage, which aggressively advertised "At the Ends of the Earth" to film festivals around the world in the late 1990s. Most other Russian directors of animation don't have that kind of name recognition, or hide their work from view. Take, for example, Maria Muat's 2006 film "Snow Maiden" (Снегурочка) which won the prestigious Russian Nika Award for best animated film, and now... cannot be found anywhere, neither on DVD, nor online (this is the case for many of her films, unfortunately). And then there's the case of Soyuzmultfilm actively trying to censor and cover-up a potentially groundbreaking work that was produced in their studio because of political reasons (well, that's a topic for another day).

Here are Bronzit's own words on the subject from a Russian-language interview with CGTalk from a number of years ago:

CGTALK: "At the Ends of the Earth" won over 70 awards at various events. How did you manage to organize the distribution of this work to so many festivals?

Konstantin: Here I was very lucky, and managed to avoid any headaches! The distribution of the film to festivals was handled by the studio Folimage, which was the producer of the film. They "bombed" all manner of possible festivals from around the world with the film; that is the reason for such a result. It's like fishing - the more rods are used, the higher the probability of a catch. The festival distribution of films is sometimes handled by the director, but, as a rule - it is usually the producer or the production studio. The only problem is that money is needed for this (shipping costs, videocassettes, printing of additional film copies, and some festivals require an "entry fee"). This is why sometimes, it all depends on the capabilities of the studio. I anticipate a question: why does a studio need any of this? Because if a film is good (even if it's not prize-winning), the studio is noticed. In such a way, a studio can make a name for itself and can land a very profitable long-term commercial order.
drawing, old man

Round Table

Translation of a recent post by Sergey Kapkov, author of the Encyclopedia of Domestic Animation(all subsequent links go to Russian-language pages).

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Friends and colleagues!
A big battle is being planned... though we all want peace and productivity.
On February 4, we shall attempt to decide to fate of our domestic animation at a Round Table.

Governmental Politics Regarding Support of Animation: Problems and Perspectives During and After the Crisis

During the past year, animated production in Russia has practically stopped. Even before the country began talking about a "financial crisis", the Ministry of Culture began a reorganization, and has not yet finished it... Studios are forced to lay off staff, halt projects, and put property up for rent. Animators are leaving the profession.

Those who haven't left have started to write letters to those in power and articles to the "Animatograf" journal. Here are some opinions of respectable people: Sergey Merinov's article (sergey_merinov), Yuriy Norshteyn's article. The journalist Masha Tereshchenko (goododd) has analyzed the international experience of the relationship between animation and the government. As a result, the idea to have a general meeting of professionals and to work out our necessary steps for a renaissance was proposed.

We have invited the following people to speak at the Table: Merinov, Norshteyn, T. Prokhorov, Selyanova, Garri Bardin, and even Zernov. It is as yet unclear who will actually come. But producers and directors will be coming in huge numbers. We all want - I repeat - productivity. That is why we must analyze the situation very soberly and formulate concrete recommendations to the government, the Ministry of Culture, and to Putin's new Film Soviet - and to send them in the form of a letter. Not cries for help, but CONCRETE recommendations. Whether it will actually work is unclear. But we cannot sit on our hands. They'll devour us. They'll kill our hard-won progress.

Journalists, new and old, come as well! Please write, make some waves in the mass media, so that THEY will hear us...

The Round Table will take place on February 4 in the conference hall of the Union of Cinematographers of the Russian Federation at 12:00.
Address: Vesilyevskaya St., house 13