John and Michael
© National Film Board of Canada
Beverly Akerman · From fps #6 · January 15, 2005 | A moving tale of two men with Down's Syndrome who share an intimate and loving relationship, Shira Avni's short animated film John and Michael was screened at the Dorshei Emet Jewish Film Festival in Montreal this past November. It is narrated with sensitivity and emotion by Brian Davis, who is intellectually challenged. This video elegy is a potent yet gentle meditation on love, loss and healing.

Avni used clay backlit on glass as her medium, creating over 14,000 paintings to tell her story. She could get away with half that number by photographing them twice, but seems she's a purist and did it the hard way. The result is a dreamy shimmer in fluid shades ranging from terra cotta to black, which enhances the tender heart at the centre of this film.  While a fine arts student at Concordia University, she won the Dean's Award in 1997. Her first film, 48 Second Blues, also copped the award for Best Animated Video at the Montreal World Film Festival's student competition that year. Avni went on to obtain an MFA in Film/Video/New Media at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, graduating in 2003.

John and Michael
Directed by Shira Avni
National Film Board of Canada, 2004
10 minutes
Now the Israeli-born Avni is a filmmaker and part-time professor at Concordia's Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. She directed, animated and produced John and Michael, along with colleague Michael Fukushima at the National Film Board (NFB) as part of the Talespinner Series.

Want to read the rest of this review?

You'll find it and many other articles in the January 2006 issue of fps, available for only 99 cents US.
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