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

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A fantastic CMP Festival!

 

We had a wonderful time at the CMP Festival last week for our first ever film-draw event. We had a fantastic audience, who seemed to enjoy the films and drawing sessions equally.

They were welcomed by David Girt, Filmspot‘s favourite pierrot!

David Girt, our pierrot for the evening

He entertained and amused with a combination of origami gifts for members of the audience, slapstick gags and magic tricks…

On arriving at the church, we were amazed to discover that one of the festival volunteers, Marion, had known Lotte Reiniger in the 1950s. She gave a delightful speech at the beginning about meeting Reiniger and her husband, Carl Koch.

…and then the audience settled in for the first of the Reiniger films

Watching Lotte Reiniger fairy tales at St Nicholas Church

Throughout the course of the evening, we watched four charming Reiniger short films: Snow White and Rose Red; The Magic Horse; Thumbelina; and Sleeping Beauty. The films were shown with 15 minute drawing sessions in between, with three different fairytale themes: Little Red Riding Hood; Rumpelstiltskin; and Rapunzel.

Jake Spicer, head tutor for DRAW, talking to the audience during the Little Red Riding Hood drawing session

Rumpelstiltskin drawing session

We were really pleased to see so many people drawing – it would have been great to see if anybody was inspired by the silhouette films!

Jake Spicer, Head tutor at DRAW, with Rachel Hunter and Rob Cunningham, Co-Directors of Filmspot

…so that wraps it up for another CMP Festival! It was a great event, and we’re so grateful to Jake Spicer and DRAW, who put in a wonderful effort, and really added to the fantastical feel of the evening. We hope to revisit drawing and film at a future date, so watch this space (or the Filmspot website) for future announcements.

In the meantime, though – we have a great screening coming up at our home from home, Newhaven FortOn Sunday 26 August, we will present Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (2pm). It promises to be a really memorable afternoon – we will temporarily transform the ‘Romney Hut’ into a magical chocolate factory.

Tickets cost £6 adults/ £4 children and concessions, including entry to the Fort Museum and a special themed snack pack’ – available from Newhaven Fort (01273 517622). More information coming soon!

 

 

 

Shadows and fairytales after dark!

Firstly, we were really delighted to see so many people at our screening of ‘A Very Long Engagement‘ (Un Long Dimanche de Fiancialles) at Eastbourne Redoubt in April. Thank you to all of you who came along and enjoyed a really lively event with us!

We are very excited to be revisiting Eastbourne Redoubt this coming Saturday evening (12th May), to contribute to their upcoming After Dark at The Redoubt event.

Filmspot will be screening a selection of charming short silhouette fairytales by pioneering animator, Lotte Reiniger – and there will be the chance to try your hand at shadow puppetry with the Filmspot team.

Films on view will be ‘The Magic Horse’, The Ant and the Grasshopper and ‘Cinderella’ [all 1954] – wonderful fantastical stories, just right for bedtime! As well as the Filmspot activities, there will be atmospheric torchlight tours of the museum and free astronomy on the gun platform. It promises to be an evening to remember!

We will be at Eastbourne Redoubt from 7pm until late, this Saturday 12th May. For full details, please see Eastbourne Redoubt’s website: http://www.eastbournemuseums.co.uk/ 

So, in keeping with the theme of bedtime stories, we thought we’d come up with a few other suggestions for fairytale films!

1. The Singing Ringing Tree [Das singende, klingende Bäumchen] (1957)

This German feature-length film for children was originally shown in the UK when it was serialised by the BBC in the 19560s. It has a real cult following, and it’s easy to see why. It features many of the elements that gained some of the fantasy films of the 80s, such as Labyrinth or  Legend, their cults: colourful characters, surreal scenarios and wonderous fantasy landscapes.

2. La Belle et La Bete (1946)

Jean Cocteau‘s fantastical rendering of this classic fairytale is one of his finest films. Although in places the film does look a little creaky because of its age, if you can suspend your disbelief, it does conjure up a childish sense of wonder in the viewer. The haunting soundtrack and beautifully surreal visual tricks create a fantasy atmosphere.

3. Snow White (1937)

The first feature cel animation, ‘Snow White’ was not only a milestone in animation, it was the inspiration behind thousands of other beloved childhood films, such as ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It went on to be an unprecedented success, much to the surprise of a skeptical film industry, with many Hollywood insiders labelling the project ‘Disney’s Folly’ while it was in development.

4. The Princess Bride (1987)

In our opinion, this is the funniest combination of comedy and fairy tale committed to film. You can forget your oh-so-‘witty’ Matrix-style princesses and faux-Scots ogres – this screen adaptation of William Goldman’s book is, quite rightly, a cult classic. It contains sword fighting! giants! a very short Sicilian! rodents of unusual size! heroes being brought back from the dead! priests with speech impediments! Peter Falk! …and that’s just for starters.

5. Hans Christian Andersen (1952)

A musical? With Danny Kaye? As Hans Christian Andersen? Well, that had to make it onto the list! This delightful film reminds us of sleepy bank holidays, as only a big Hollywood musical can. All the well known HCA fairytales are here, in sung form. The ‘Ugly Duckling’ is a particularly catchy little ditty.

We look forward to seeing you this Saturday!