November 17, 2008
This year’s Waterloo Festival for Animated Cinema kicked off last Thursday night with a screening of Europe’s first animated feature film, The Adventures of Prince Achmed (Die Arbenteuer des Prinzen Achmed). Considered Europe's first animated feature film, it is 81 minutes long, and was made in 1926 by Lotte Reiniger (along with her husband and two others).

Reiniger made the film with paper cut-out shadow puppets – apparently over 100,000 of them. What was particularly special about Thursday night’s screening was the live soundtrack performed by Miles and Karina, who were commissioned earlier this year by The Northwest Film Forum to compose a new score for this amazing piece of cinematic history. I lost myself in the story – a tale based on 1001 Arabian nights – partly because the beautiful details of the animation worked so well at propelling the story, but also very much because the music was such a brilliant complement to the visuals… Miles and Karina’s music evoked the moods and humor of the story beautifully – and so subtly that I completely forgot the music was being performed live!

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November 1, 2008

I first saw The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2005 during the short film competition on Saturday night. I remember that particular program was exceptional, but this short was the most remarkable of the lot for me. It appeals to several biases: it has both a steampunk and a gothic horror motif; the story has excellent pacing and takes it time, but ropes you in; and it looks gorgeous, using a silhouette animation style reminiscent of Lotte Reiniger, but refined for our times with motion graphics and digital compositing.

This short, directed by Anthony Lucas, is supposed to be the first of a trilogy. Last week, the distributor Monster Distributes put the entire short up on Youtube and quite deservedly, it is one of the featured shorts in the Youtube Screening Room. Perhaps the short will gain new fans, hastening the next installment.

As if this weekend wasn't creepy enough. Check this out.

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July 9, 2008

Two years ago, Peruvian-born Jossie Malis produced a short animated film called Bendito Machine using Moho (now called Anime Studio). The style was silhouette animation, but not in the fantastic or whimsical vein of Lotte Reiniger or Michel Ocelet; Bendito Machine was instead a darkly funny meditation on power, corruption, greed and religion. Malis has since considered the short as the first part in a ten-part series, and I have no doubt that all seven deadly sins will be covered by the end.

This interview is our first collaboration with Directors Notes, and here MarBelle interviews Malis about his quirky creation.

Bendito Machine
Directors Notes
Anime Studio 5 review

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July 8, 2008

A strange, godlike machine is overthrown and replaced by another strange, godlike machine. This is quite possibly the most disturbing-looking silhouette-style film you've seen in some time. This first part of a ten-part series is a Flicker Pick from June 2006.

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March 25, 2006

Emru Townsend interviews British animator Phil Mulloy, who was recently in Montreal to host a retrospective of his work at the Cinémathèque québécoise. Phil Mulloy is a prolific animator who has created over twenty films in the last sixteen years, and in many of his works, the landscape and characters are stark and grotesque: rendered in black paint and ink, his characters are mostly in silhouette, with skeletal bodies, large, bony hands, and distended mouths with jutting teeth. Animation is accomplished by manipulating cutouts of his painted and drawn images. And while his plots have varied, they often feature themes of sex, persecution, violence, the body, and religion.

Emru Townsend, Phil Mulloy, and Marco de Blois.

Film Clips
Cowboys: High Noon (1991; 0:43, 2.0 MB, MPEG-1)
The Sex Life of a Chair
(1998; 0:59, 2.7 MB, MPEG-1)
Intolerance I (2000; 0:59, 2.7 MB, MPEG-1)
Intolerance II (2001; 1:00, 2.7 MB, MPEG-1)
The Christies: Mister Yakamoto (2006; 0:27, 2.0 MB, MPEG-1)

Phil Mulloy
Cinémathèque québécoise
Lotte Reiniger
David Anderson

Credits: Photo by Tamu Townsend; podcast introduction audio from Intolerance I

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