Russian Fairytales: The Animation Edition

Friday’s festive screening of ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ went with a real swing – thank you to everybody who came along.

…but there’s no time to waste, it’s focus forward to our next event: Sing Russian! Earlier this summer Opera Coast approached us to create some animated projections to accompany two concerts of arias and pieces from Russian operas – one concert in Brighton and one in London. We have been beavering away ever since, creating pen and ink drawings of backdrops to create a projected ‘stage set’ for each piece in the performance. We hope you can join us at one of the concerts. Details follow at the end of this blog.

Photographs and clips will be available after the first performance, but in the meantime you might be interested to see some of the fabulous Russian fairytale animations we have come across during our research.

The Snowmaiden (2006)


Fairytales should be, in my humble opinion, 1 part magic, 1 part romance and 2 parts horror! This rather delightful 30 minute stop motion animation adheres to that formula – just check out the wood goblin… *shudders*

Rusalochka (The Little Mermaid) (1968)


An intriguingly stylised combination of hand painted cel animation and cut outs, ‘Rusalochka’ sticks somewhat more faithfully to Hans Christian Anderson’s original tale than the 1989 Disney version. Bold, experimental and beautiful to behold, this is definitely worth a watch.

The Ball of Yarn (1968)


Something about the uncanny nature of stop motion animation gives many stop motion short films a strange atmosphere, but the story of this short also adds in to that strangeness – it is about a ball of yarn, and a knitting hobby which quickly escalates and becomes something altogether more sinister.

Nalim Malinych (2015)


This imaginative mixture of styles and techniques tells a delightful tale inspired by the works of Stepan Pissakhov, famous painter, writer and storyteller in the tradition of North Russia.

Hedgehog in The Fog (1975)


This charming short film is probably the first Russian animation I ever saw. Master animator and storyteller Yuriy Norshteyn weaves a tale that is so enchanting it completely transports you. If you only settle down to watch one film from this list: get yourself and cup of tea, relax and enjoy this atmospheric little tale.

Hopefully that little taster has whet your appetite for some Russian fairy tales and folklore. If so, be sure to come along to ‘The Old Tales of Kitezh Grad’ – to book tickets, at Unitarian Church, Brighton: Saturday 10 December, 7.30pm, click here or Pushkin House, London: Friday 16 December, 7.30pm, click here.

Full details of the project are on our website

Looking back at a busy Autumn – and a busy December!

Greetings Filmspotters!

Sorry for the silence. We’ve had a busy few months since the last post (all the way back in Autumn!). We’ve been busy with screenings and workshops across Sussex!

In September, we were delighted to revisit the ICE Field in Isfield, where we ran a fun stop motion workshop at their Arts & Crafts market, creating a short film called ‘Fish’, with the help of some young animators. We screened the rough cut of the film at our marquee screening of Spielberg’s classic, ‘Jaws’ that evening. The final edit of the film is being tweaked at the moment, but will be live on our YouTube channel by the end of the year. Keep your eyes on our blog for updates.

Preparations for our 'Fish' workshop in Isfield - the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

Preparations for our ‘Fish’ workshop in Isfield – the film will be available soon on our YouTube channel!

This year we took part in Scalarama during September, with a presentation of ‘The Cabinet of Dr Caligari’ at Fabrica, with a stunning live semi-improved score by Partial Facsimile. The screening was a total sell-out, and there was a fantastic atmosphere!

We had a short break until the mid-October, when we ran an exciting ‘Big Draw’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford. We used cut out animation to recreate, with the help of local children and families, Halas & Batchelor’s short animation, ‘The Owl and The Pussycat’. The final film is in the editing studio at the moment, but expect to see it on our YouTube channel by the end of December. We are also planning a screening of ‘Animal Farm’, with introduction by Vivien Halas, in the gallery in 2016. Once the date is confirmed, details will be posted here and on the Filmspot website.

Participants creating their 'cut out puppets' for our Big Draw 'Owl and the Pussycat' workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants creating their ‘cut out puppets’ for our Big Draw ‘Owl and the Pussycat’ workshop at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our 'Big Draw' event.

Participants learning about Stop Motion animation at Arts@TheCrypt in Seaford, part of our ‘Big Draw’ event.

We are continuing with our series of screenings at Isfield Village Hall, our most recent event in October, with a screening of ‘Animal Farm’ introduced by Vivien Halas, who gave a fascinating insight into her parents’ work.

This December, we have two events to round-off a very successful 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club present

An American in Paris

Friday 4 December, doors 6.45pm
Tickets £7, advance booking essential
Email info@lja.uk.com or telephone 01273 328683 for tickets
Tickets include a glass of mulled wine

Vincente Minnelli’s An American in Paris is one of the most elegant, colourful and fun of the MGM musicals from the 1950s, it features Gene Kelly as a cheerful ex-GI, called Jerry Mulligan, struggling as a penniless  artist in Paris. His world is turned upside down when he meets the enchanting Lise Bouvier, played by a young Leslie Caron in her screen debut, and at the same time attracts the attention of a rich American heiress, who is interested in more than just his paintings!

Featuring classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin, and some of the most decadent choreography routines on film, this promises to be a fun evening: served up with the usual Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Club festive cheer!
Here’s the trailer:

Isfield Village Hall and Filmspot present

Paddington and White Christmas

Saturday 12 December at Isfield Village Hall
Paddington 2.45pm; White Christmas 6.45pm
Tickets £6 per film (£12 for family of four
– 1 child free with each paying adult
Email info@isfieldvillagehall.org.uk to book
We are delighted to be presenting a family matinee screening of favourite bear, Paddington, in this recent motion picture adaptation of Michael Bond’s beloved books. Featuring an all-star cast, and state of the art animation, this delightful film will appeal to all ages.
In the evening, join us for a real festive classic – White Christmas. Featuring Irving Berlin’s unforgettable music, as well as splendid musical routines from the four stars – Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen, nothing could be better for getting you in the mood for Christmas!
Here are the trailers for both films!:

We hope to see you at one of our events in December – and also wish you a very merry Christmas!

A night at the opera with Filmspot

Hello Filmspotters!
We are getting tuned up and ready for our screening of Mike Leigh’s delightful ‘Topsy Turvy’ this Saturday at Isfield Village Hall (6.45pm for 7pm screening, tickets £6 on the door, including wine and nibbles!). Telling the story of Gilbert and Sullivan while they were creating ‘The Mikado’, it has got us in the mood for opera!

Here are a few of our favourite opera-related films
Tales of Hoffman (1951)


We are huge fans of Powell and Pressburger here at Filmspot HQ. In this sumptuous adaptation of Offenbach’s fantasy opera, they brought together many of the team who worked on ‘The Red Shoes’. Their audatious, theatrical style works beautifully. Celebrated director Cecil B Demille is said to have written ‘For the first time in my life, I was treated to Grand Oepra where the beauty, power and scope of the music was equally matched by the visual presentation’.

The Magic Flute (1975)


Considerably lightly than many of this director’s other works, Ingmar Bergman has created an adaptation of one of Mozart’s best-loved works that is undeniably his own: a celebration of love, forgiveness, and the brotherhood of man.
Rigoletto (1993)

A shortened telling of Verdi’s masterpiece – the only criticism of this exquisite rendering of the opera is that its 30 minute run time does not do it justice. That said, it is too beautiful to overlook – Barry Purves is the master of detailed stop motion animation, sadly less known than he should be outside the animation world.
Ruddigore (1964)


British studio Halas & Batchelor’s take on Gilbert and Sullivan’s ‘Ruddigore’ is notably the first UK animated TV special, as well as being the first operetta to be animated. Made with the co-operation of the D’Oyle Carte Opera Company, who provide the voices, and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, who provide the music, it tells the story of a line of British baronets are cursed to commit a crime every day…or die!
Night at the Opera (1935)

Ok, possibly not an ‘opera film’ as such, but we had to include the Marx Brothers hilarious farce, in which they sabotage an opening night of an opera. A box office smash, the film is also considered to be one of the Marx Brothers’ finest films, being selected for inclusion in the US National Film Registry in 1993.

We hope to see you at Isfield Village Hall this Saturday!

2015: Filmspot’s planning a fun year!

Happy New Year, Filmspotters! We’ve been putting our programming hats on recently, and lots of exciting plans for 2015, so keep an eye on our website and blog for details. We’ve got some great cinema screenings, events and more workshops planned, so check back soon!

We are delighted to announce our first Filmspot of 2015:

Filmspot CMPCA Pop Up Cinema Present ‘It Happened One Night’
21 February, doors 7pm for 7.30pm film

 We continue the popular series of film screenings with Frank Capra’s delightful It Happened One Night. Starring Clark Gable and Claudette Colbert this screwball romantic comedy was the first film to win ‘the big five’ Academy Awards (best picture, director, actor, actress and screenplay).

Here’s the ever-reliable Criteron Collection’s ‘Three Reasons’ to watch It Happened One Night:

A spoilt socialite, Ellie Andrews (Colbert) has married an opportunistic aviator against the wishes of her father, who keeps her prisoner on a yacht. Ellie escapes, swimming to shore, and plans to reunite with her husband. She manages to get onto a Greyhound bus destined for New York, where she meets Peter Warne (Gable), a newspaper reporter who was recently fired for drinking on the job. He strikes a deal with Ellie, agreeing to help reunite her with her husband, provided she gives him an exclusive story. As they travel towards New York, they get involved in a series of misadventures, and they begin to fall for each other.

This film set the pace for the ‘screwball’ comedy – and was one of the first ‘odd couple’ films, featuring the eventual romance between two people with very different personalities from different social stations. The film is as breezy, light and fun as it was on initial release, and represents a director and two actors all at their peaks!

Tickets £5 in advance (£6 on the door, subject to availability). Advance booking recommended, by emailing info@lja.uk.com or telephoning 01273 328683.

2014 round up

Last year was a great 5th year for Filmspot, featuring a programme of WWI films for Newhaven Fort, screenings of silent and cult films as part of the Scalarama Festival, outdoor screenings in Isfield, a screening for the hard of hearing in Seaford  and a continuing programme for the CMPCA in Brighton. We finished the year with a bang, though, with our first Filmspot Animation Workshop, at the Crypt Gallery, Seaford, as part of The Big Draw. We invited people to help us create a fantasy version of our local landscape, which we then brought to life by animating flick book animations also created by the participants. We are so pleased with the resulting film, which can be seen here:

Special thanks to everybody at the Crypt Gallery for being so supportive – we hope to bring some film and animation events to Seaford again very soon! Finally, thank you again to the wonderful Penguin Cafe for giving us permission to use their very uplifting track ‘Pale Peach Jukebox’ on the film.

Filmspot and Redoubt Fortress – a great start to 2012 season

To kick off our 2012 season, we have two special events coming up at the Eastbourne Redoubt

Saturday 21st April, 8pm

A Very Long Engagement‘ (Un Long Dimanche de Fiancialles) [Cert 15] (2004)
Jean-Pierre Jeunet‘s (director of Amelie) quirky romantic film tells the story of Mathilde (Audrey Tautou), and her search for her fiance, who is believed by most to have been killed on the Somme. Tickets: £5 (£4 concessions), from the Eastbourne Redoubt: 01323 410 300

Saturday 11th May, drop-in screenings 7-10pm

 Lotte Reiniger Fairy Tales [Cert U]
Filmspot will be screening three  silhouette-animated fairy tales by pioneering film-maker, Lotte Reiniger as part of Redoubt’s ‘Museum at Night’ event – plus there will be the chance to try your hand at shadow puppetry.  Details will follow shortly.

The Eastbourne Redoubt formed part of a chain of fortifications built to deter Napoleon’s forces in the early 1800s. Garrisoned by troops until the early 1900s, and again during WWII, it is now an atmospheric museum housing three military collections.

See www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk for full details.

We hope to see you all there!