A grotesquely beautiful monster with monarch wings, long feathered lashes, and a curiously large mouth has taken over a corner building in Montréal. The cheeky puppet mural is by French-Canadian artist Danaé Brissonnet in collaboration with Poncili Creacion and stands at the intersection of Boulevard Saint Laurent and Rue Marie Anne. Centered around the theme of digestion, the massive public work is a playful, metaphorical interpretation of the bodily process. “These days I’m intrigued with exploring the ways in which I nourish myself… the who and what I let inside,” Brissonnet writes on Instagram. “On the outside, he seems cute and inviting, but he will ferociously protect himself, deciding just who may enter his house.”
A boxy character with outstretched arms swivels atop the roof, and a rainbow chute evocative of a digestive track emerges from one side. Flora and fauna surround the anatomical parts, which the artist explains:
His yellow eyes are positioned in the center of his face and crowned by an echinacea flower, a really special flower for the immune system, a symbol of hope and strength. The arms transform into roosters, (which honors) the Portuguese park and the neighborhood’s delicious Portuguese roast chicken… The long crane holding a house is a little message to myself to find a home somewhere that I can set roots!
Brissonnet, who’s based in Guadeloupe, is currently working on a mural in Québec before she travels to Detroit for City Walls. Find more of her projects that blend puppetry and public art on her site.
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The street theater group known as La Machine revived one of its legendary beasts for an ongoing show in Toulouse. “Long Ma,” an enormous dragon-horse hybrid weighing 45 tons and standing 11 meters tall, was originally unleashed in Beijing in 2014 and now joins a minotaur and gigantic spider for an ongoing exhibition at La Halle in the French city. Each day through May 8, a team of artists animates the mechanical creature, which can be seen trotting, galloping, and rearing upward through the streets while she greets her similarly massive companions.
Capable of spitting smoke and water, the fire-breathing “Long Ma” is made from a combination of steel, wood, leather, blown glass, golden leaves, horsehair, and textiles. She also cradles a Chinese temple inspired by the Forbidden City on her back, which is big enough for 35 people to join her on her daily adventures.
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After Her Brain Short-Circuits, A Young Girl Tries on a Second Head in a Lighthearted Stop-Motion Animation
The saying goes that two heads are better than one, except in the case of a young girl named Matilda. The titular character of a playful stop-motion short by Lithuanian animator Ignas Meilunas, Matilda is on track to be the smartest girl in the world when suddenly, mid-study session, her mind goes haywire. She recognizes that she can’t stuff a single fact more into her already packed brain and to remedy the issue, her mother decides to order her daughter a second head from a department store. Of course, this quick fix is really no solution at all, and Matilda soon realizes that there’s more to life.
According to Short of the Week, Meilunas hadn’t worked with puppets prior to “Matilda and the Second Head,” which retains all of the charm and detail of his previous pieces—you might remember him from “Mr. Night Has a Day Off.” The character-driven short already has been shown at a variety of festivals including Annecy and helped him win the Best Animation for Young Audiences award from the 2020 Ottawa International Film Festival. Meilunas recently shared an in-depth look behind-the-scenes of the project, and you can watch more of his short comedies on Vimeo.
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A destitute family, an uneasy property developer, and an unrealistic landlady clinging to the past all find themselves grappling with control when they inhabit The House. The mysterious dwelling is the titular character of Netflix’s new three-part series that brings some of the most promising names of stop-motion animation to the major television platform.
Created at Nexus Studios, the dark comedy is a collaboration between Emma de Swaef and Marc Roels (previously), Niki Lindroth von Bahr, and Paloma Baeza, who each created a different segment of the story. The first part, set in the 1800s, features de Swaef and Roels’s pudgy, woolen characters, the second zeroes in on Lindroth von Bahr’s anxious rat in a present-day nightmare of cockroaches and hospital visits, and the final ventures to the near future with Baeza’s cats experiencing a post-climate crisis world. “The House is a collection of cinematic stories that are intelligent, witty, inquisitive, warm, and yet packed with offbeat humor,” Nexus co-founder Charlotte Bavasso said.
Ahead of its release today on Netflix, Short of The Week went behind-the-scenes with the animators and producers involved in the surreal trilogy, and get a tease of what’s to come in the trailer below.
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In Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s stop-motion short “Winter In The Rainforest,” time passes at an unusual pace. The Estonian writer, director, and animator (previously) sets a cast of fragile, porcelain puppets within the lush rainforests of Chiapas, Mexico, and the Peruvian Amazon, a contrast of real and manufactured that grounds the surreal story. Throughout the film, carnivorous flowers trap their prey, an articulate grasshopper climbs a tree, and a miniature girl wakes from a stupor at a clip that’s wildly different from their timelapsed surroundings, which are evident through leaves shaking in the wind and shadows rolling across the landscape at a quickened tempo.
Shot with 16-millimeter film, the grainy short is years in the making—Tuttelberg details the process on her site—and blurs the boundaries between the imagined and real in both material and narrative. Rather than create an illusion of the characters occupying the tropical ecosystem in a lifelike manner, each element progresses at its own speed. She explains:
While moving the puppets frame by frame, I let the light and the nature in the background move naturally. In this way, the puppets are moving smoothly in their own pace and the nature around them is changing rapidly. This creates a new obscure reality of time and space in the film. It keeps the viewer aware of the stop motion technique in the film. I don’t want to hide the animation technique behind the scene but rather to bring it out and observe the new strange reality it creates.
“Winter In The Rainforest” has already won numerous festival awards, and Tuttelberg tells Colossal she’s working on a sequel titled “On Weary Wings Go By,” which brings the same cast to the frigid beaches of Estonia and Norway. You can keep an eye out for that project, and watch the animator’s previous works, on Vimeo.
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Ten years after Irish animator and director Johnny Kelly (previously) brought us a charming stop-motion ad for Chipotle about a farmer’s return to organic methods, he’s back with an emotional sequel that revisits the now-aging protagonist. The new short film, titled “A Future Begins,” follows the same mustached rancher as he struggles to maintain his pesticide-free fields and natural techniques amidst weather catastrophes and other struggles. When his son returns from college and a busy life in the city, the reunited family implements a range of sustainable technologies like solar panels, greenhouses, polyculture, and companion planting that make the farm thrive.
Kelly and the team behind the new ad documented their meticulous process in an immersive making-of video, which dives into pre-production digital mockups, techniques for hand-sculpting innumerable trees and the bucolic landscape, and updates to the puppets themselves, which feature magnetic waists that allow them to pivot in various stances. Similar to its award-winning predecessor, “A Future Begins” is paired with a Coldplay cover, with this iteration featuring “Fix You” by Kasey Musgraves.
Find more of Kellly’s animated projects and collaborations on Vimeo.
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