film

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Animation

The Wolf House: A Horror Film Plunges into the Disturbing Mind of a Child through a Blend of Stop-Motion Animation and Murals

January 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

Joaquín Cociña and Cristóbal León descend into the psychologically disturbing world of a child escaped from religious fanatics in their feature-length film The Wolf HouseLayered with audio of unsettling voices and the quiet mutterings of a young girl, the grotesque animation seamlessly blends horror and documentary as it recounts some of the tragedies of the Colonia Dignidad, the post-World War II colony that was established by Germans and Chileans under the dictatorial rule of General Augusto Pinochet. Founded in 1961, the isolated area was infamous for torture, internment, and murder, and The Wolf House showcases its impact on a child who takes refuge in a strange house.

Fans of filmmaker Daisy Jacobs and artist BLU will recognize some of the methods used in Cociña and León’s work, including classic stop-motion techniques and painting directly on the walls of the set. Characters shift constantly, whether between two and three dimensions as they morph from murals into sculptural creatures or as they contort their bodies from life-sized forms to massive heads and from human to animal.

Cociña and León, who are from Chile originally, have been collaborating since 2007 and lead the Santiago-based production company Diluvio. You can stream The Wolf House on ScreeningRoom, and see more of the duo’s genre-bending work on their site and Vimeo.

 

 

 



Design Photography

A New Book Compiles Photos of Idiosyncratic, Quirky Destinations that Look Just Like Wes Anderson Films

October 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Wally Koval, shared with permission

Devotees of Wes Anderson’s films can spot the pastel architecture and simple signage synonymous with the American director’s aesthetic anywhere, a notion that’s proven in a newly released book by Wally Koval. Buoyed by an Instagram account with more than 1,200 images from all seven continents, Accidentally Wes Anderson showcases international destinations with the likeness of the Grand Budapest Hotel or the heavily wallpapered train cars of The Darjeeling Limited. The 368-page edition is teeming with charm, quirky compositions, and picturesque settings and even includes a foreword written by the famed director himself, who previously had no ties to the endeavor.

Based in Brooklyn, Koval began collecting photographs in 2017 and has since amassed an incredible archive, which he’s categorized by location, theme, and color palette on his site. Further explore the idiosyncratic locales by picking up a copy of Accidentally Wes Anderson on Bookshop. (via Fast Company)

 

 

 



Animation Illustration

Download Hundreds of Frames from Studio Ghibli Animations for Video-Chat Backgrounds for Free

September 29, 2020

Grace Ebert

Ponyo on the cliff

Thanks to Studio Ghibli, you can hide piles of laundry and errant messes while videoconferencing from home with one of 400 stills from classic animations. The renowned Japanese animation studio recently released an online archive of images— which boasts iconic frames from films like Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo and Spirited Away and Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya available—for free download. Each month, Studio Ghibli will add an additional eight images, mostly derived from new works.

This recent collection appears to be an extension of the studio’s release of video-conferencing backgrounds earlier this year. Explore the entire archive and watch for upcoming projects, which include a new Miyazaki-directed film, on the studio’s site. (via Hyperallergic)

 

Ponyo on the cliff

Spirited Away

Spirited Away

When Marnie Was There

When Marnie Was There

The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises

The Borrower Arrietty

 

 



Animation

Clay Faces Twist and Warp on Human Bodies in Mixed-Media Film by Sam Gainsborough

December 18, 2019

Grace Ebert

Animation director Sam Gainsborough’s new mixed-media film contorts and melts characters’ faces, altering and shaping both how they see and how they’re viewed. Facing It depicts a man struggling with relationships to his family and friends, his social anxiety, and his fear of being isolated from those around him. Throughout the film, dripping, swirling, and rippling clay faces mask those of the human bodies.

Gainsborough tells Directors Notes that he shot the characters’ claymation faces against a green screen before transferring them frame-by-frame to fit separate footage with actors, combining stop-motion and live-action techniques. Each face is roughly double life-size, and in total, the film’s creators used more than 1,100 pounds of plasticine. Adding human bodies to the work creates a “visible layer of reality” that stands in contrast to the feelings shown on the animated faces.

He feels that his parents are these emotionless rock-like characters so they’re animated to look like gargoyles. Whereas he sees everyone else in the world as being effortlessly happy so they’re animated fluidly with lots of colour. But at the end of the day the feelings he has are false, what lies underneath that is reality, real people (with painted hands for some reason!).

The goal of the work, the director says, is to push viewers to question whether they’re living how they want to. He and writer Louisa Wood wanted “a main character who would be seen to bottle up their emotions rather than living true to themselves. We wanted to make a film that celebrates everyone’s flaws and internal struggle, no one’s perfect after all.”

Facing It was produced in the same space that Nick Park first created Wallace and Gromit – A Grand Day Out, the director says. “It was really cool for me to be working in the same room that saw the creation of a film I found so inspiring as a child.”

Gainsborough is based in London and graduated from the National Film and Television School. His future plans, which you can follow on Instagram, include employing a similar technique but with stop-motion puppets.

 

 



Documentary Science

Fantastic Fungi: A New Film Explores Earth's Vast Network of Mycelium and Mushrooms

December 17, 2019

Grace Ebert

A new film considers how mycelium and mushrooms have created an often-unseen network, similar to an underground internet, that has connected all living beings for the last 3.5 billion years. Featuring conversations with food journalist Eugenia Bone, mycologist Paul Stamets, and writer Michael Pollan, Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us dives into how the diverse underground web creates the soil necessary for plants and trees to root. “It’s amazing what we don’t know about mushrooms. They really are a frontier of knowledge,” Pollan says in the film.

Fantastic Fungi explores seven benefits of the organisms, including those dealing with biodiversity, innovation, food, arts, and mental, physical, and spiritual health. Screenings are scheduled worldwide through February 2020. Follow updates on the film directed by Louie Schwartzberg and the broader fungi movement on Instagram. (Thnx, Laura!)

 

 



Amazing Art Documentary

Brooklyn's Famous Green Lady Explains the Obsession Behind Her Life Devoted to the Color Green

June 29, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

Brooklyn-based artist Elizabeth Sweetheart really loves the color green. In fact she loves the color so much, there are not many objects in her life that aren’t marked by its vibrancy. From her braided hair to her rounded spectacles, Sweetheart’s life is dyed green. For this simple reason she has been nicknamed “The Green Lady,” and embraces the name and the joy it brings to others by continuing her passionate collection of all things green.

“I think people really, really like to believe that you like something enough to really carry it through,” says Sweetheart in a film created by Great Big Story about her obsession. “When you are young you tend to think you look good in black, but as you get older you realize that color is so fun. I will continue to be green because it is so positive. I think when it is not, then I’ll change to my next favorite thing.”

You can learn more about the artist’s life, and the 20-year span of her collecting, in the short film created by Great Big Story above. (via Laughing Squid)