13 Young Talents of Polish Animation
These artists not only prove that Polish animation has had a wonderful past, but that it also has a bright future. From 3D animation to puppet productions, their films win some of the world's most important animated film festivals. Here are 13 young and talented authors of Polish animated music videos, experimental pieces, comedies, and dramas.
A script writer and animation artist, he is a graduate of the cinematographic department of the Łódź Film School. Popakul's Ziegenort is one of the most distinct pieces of Polish animation in the past few years. The film tells the story of an introverted fish-boy growing up in a small fishing village, who undergoes all of the anxieties of a teenager entering adulthood.
Popakul started working on the animation in high school and he is a self-taught specialist in the visual arts. In his works, he employs the technique of illustration and cartoon drawing, blending it with 3D computer graphics.
In an interview for Stopklatka magazine, he said:
"As a person with a wild imagination, I always wanted to see my ideas in movement, but making animation by one person in the traditional technique didn't seem realistic to me. 3D animation is not as complicated as it seems. It leaves a lot of space for improvisation, and if something doesn't work out, it's always possible to fix it, you don't have to start drawing all over again. (…) In my opinion, 3D animation is a lot simpler than hand-drawn or puppet-based animation. I learned at home, through trial and error – all that was required was a little bit of patience."
Apart from Ziegenort – which has garnered awards at a dozen festivals, the young artist has also authored short projects called Auge, Ludzie i ryby (People and Fish), and a ten-minute piece entitled Martwe pole (The Dead Field).
He has created two films of his own, garnering tens of awards for his work. Ducki’s recent Łaźnia (The Bath House) alone received prizes at festivals in Switzerland, Portugal, Finland, Mexico, Japan, Egypt, and in the United States. In the four-minute animation, Ducki employed both humour and melancholy to depict how life intertwines with death. The story of two old women swimmers who go everyday for a workout becomes a metaphor on the passing of things, and on the other hand, on life as something that one is submerged in. Łaźnia not only seduces with its visual beauty and its vivacious editing, but first and foremost with its interesting story. And the same can be said of Ducki's earlier film, the inconspicuous Life line.
Apart from his own artistic projects, Ducki is also the co-author of works directed by other artists. He animated Fuga na wiolonczelę, trąbkę i pejzaż (Fugue for the Cello, Trumpet, and a Landscape) by Jerzy Kuć, and Anca Damian's Magic Mountain which won the Karlove Vary Festival.
Ducki's next picture is going to be an adaptation of Joanna Papuzińska’s children's book Asiunia, which portrays war through the eyes of a little girl. The script for this piece is written by Łukasz Maciejewski, with the renowned Polish actress Danuta Stenka narrating the film.
Although her oeuvre thus far consists of only two projects, their quality, audacity, and visual form leave no doubts as to Anita Kwiatkowska-Naqvi's position among the most talented artists of Polish animated cinema. In her school piece Protoza, she delved into the world as seen through a microscope. In her debut Carnalis, she showed close-ups of decaying meat, provoking a reflection on the phenomenon of corporeality.
In the excellent Ab Ovo Kwiatkowska-Naqvi once again tackled the theme of the body, but this time from a completely different angle. Ab Ovo tells the story of a woman going through subsequent stages of pregnancy. A plasticine-based animation depicts the developing foetus as an intruder taking over someone else's body and the beautiful imagery brought Kwiatkowska-Naqvi awards at festivals in Annecy, Montreal, Kraków and Lisbon.
She is currently working on a diploma piece entitled Locus, under the artistic guidance of Mariusz Wilczyński. In a talk with Marcin Zawiśliński for the Polish Filmmaker's Association portal, the young artist revealed that her film tells the story of a woman's life and her place in the world.
His Millhaven is one of the best animated music video clips recently created in Poland. The 7 minute long animation depicts the story of Loretta – a young girl from the town of Millhaven, which was recently shaken by a series of tragic events.
Kulas dresses his excellent interpretation of Nick Cave's song (performed by Katarzyna Groniec) in a beautiful, albeit dark, form. Millhaven has brought Kulas awards at festivals in Kraków, Łódź, Bucharest and Poznań.
His newest production, Circus Maximus premiered in 2015. Combining classic film with animation, it portrays a small circus whose director takes to increasingly extreme measures in attempts to save the business. The only one capable of saving the circus is the teenaged Marianna – a girl who, after being abandoned as a child, was taken in by the Circus band.
Culture.pl is one of the producers of Bartek Kulas' fable-musical.
In June 2015, Siwiński's Niebieski pokój (Blue Room) brought him the Silver Lajkonik statuette in the Best Polish Animation category of the Kraków Film Festival. Prior to the festival showing, the film had also travelled to the Mexican Querétaro and the Portuguese Vila do Conde festivals.
The dreamy Blue Room is about a man in a coma, as he tackles his own anxieties and memories. Faced with this chaos, he has to confront the question of what is most important to him. The film is one of the most interesting works in the genre, it applies the frame-by-frame technique to painting. Blue Room certainly affirms the young artist's talent.
Siwiński made his mature approach to mixing techniques known in his 2005 debut, Telewizor (The Television). Later, in Mały, czarny kwadrat (Little Black Square) he once again used his experience as a painter, blending it with the encaustic technique of wax-painting.
A director, animation artist, and illustrator, Socha is a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. His short animated films Kamień (Stone) (2006), Icarus (2007), and Koncert (Concert) (2007) have been presented at festivals across the entire globe. The 2008 film called Laska (The Chick) brought him the awards of festivals in Koszalin, Kraków, and Annecy. The film tells the humorous story of a male-female relationship, dressed in a surrealist costume. Socha’s other work, the 2014 lead for The Simpsons, also subscribed to the surreal aesthetics.
The Cartoon Brew portal was filled with awe, hailing it "The most creative lead ever." Socha thus joined the exclusive company of artists who have realised the so-called couch gag films. The lot includes artists such as Banksy, Guillermo del Toro, Bill Plympton, and Sylvain Chomet.
Socha is also one of the ten animation artists from across the world who have been invited to create the novella-film Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet. Voices for the production will be performed by Liam Neeson and Selma Hayek, among other actors.
A graduate of the Department of Painting of the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw and the Animation studio of the Cinematographic Department at the Film School in Łódź. Polak’s Narodziny Narodu (The Birth of a Nation) won the III prize of the Wiesbaden Film Festival in 2002, while his Świteź received awards at some of the most significant festivals of animated film – it got the "Jean-Luc Xiberras" Debut Award at the festival in Annency. Świteź is a contemporary adaptation of the Romantic ballad by Adam Mickiewicz. It tells the story of mysterious lake, at the bottom of which lies an enchanted Medieval town. Świteź is an apocalyptic vision of destruction, miracles, the battle battle between good and evil, and a story about faith and hope. It was created in the Human Ark studio in Warsaw.
In a review of Świteź for the Polityka weekly, Zdzisław Pietrasik stated:
"Polak’s film is only 20 minutes long, but the artist worked on it for 7 years. The effects are visible on the screen, the visual value is thrilling and measures up to the biggest accomplishments in the history of animated film.”
Polak was also the author of animated video projections for Krzysztof Warlikowski’s Dybuk (2003), which depicted paintings from old Jewish synagogues come to life. He also worked on Suzie Templeton’s Peter and the Wolf, an Academy Award winner in 2008. Together with Wojciech Wawszczyk, he directs the animated series called Kacperiada.
Her 2010 debut Drżące trąby (Quaking Trumpets) has received a total of 11 prizes across different festivals. If Brożyńska’s film found itself in the programme of a festival, one could easily assume that it would be one of the public’s favourite films.
The story of two strange furry creatures, Kalasanty and Pafnuc, is a humorous and charming tale about tolerance and lack of fulfillment. A frame by frame technique animates dolls created especially for the film and the film provides a taste of the director’s absurd sense of humour. Brożyńska also narrates the film.
In the later 4 minute Searching for Devo, realised as a video for the song Blockhead by Devo, Brożyńska returned to her strange and surreal visions. She is currently working on Doradcy króla Hydropsa (The Advisors of King Hydrops), an adaptation of Stanisław Lem’s short story.
While still a student of the cinematographic department at the Łódź Film School, Dębski realised two short projects that revealed his talent as well as his sense of humour. In Koszmar włosów (Hair Nightmare) (2007) he spoke about a young man who tried to straighten his hair is order to look more like his ancestors. In Zupełnie inna historia (A Completely Different Story) (2008) he depicted the fate of a knife which got thrown out of the kitchen after a series of unfortunate events.
Drwal (Lumberjack) (2011), Dębski’s diploma piece, brought him awards at festivals in Turin, Kraków, and Łódź. It spoke about a man living with his small son in a house by the woods. The boy’s happy life changes when one day the titular lumberjack returns from the woods completely changed.
Dębski is a regular collaborator with Fumi Studio. He has created the animations for and edited Piotr Dumała's Hipopotamy (Hippopotami) and contributed to Bogdan Dziworski's Plus minus, czyli podróże muchy na Wschód (Plus-Minus aka The Journeys of a Fly to the East).
She was meant to be a dentist, but luckily, she swapped the Medical Academy for film school, busying herself with animation. In 2003, while a student in Łódź, she made her Wiara, nadzieja i miłość (Faith, Hope and Love). The film depicted the world of the aged, forgotten by their close ones, who try to tame their loneliness through the cherishing of memories, watching TV, and engaging in religious ritual.
In 2006, she began to collaborate with the Se-Ma-For animation studio, where in 2009, she realised her professional debut Miasto płynie (The City is Flowing). It was an animated documentary about Łódź as a place where greyness, poverty, aggression, and loud scandals all blend together, providing a musical tale about the city’s specific character.
Her subsequent Dobro, piękno i prawda (Goodness, Beauty, and Truth)(2010), brought to life the posters Albert Alvarad, among others, and also depicted brutal reality and a righteous individual who bumps up against it. Today, Balbina Bruszewska is working on the film called Czarnoksiężnik z krainy U.S. (The Wizard of U.S.). Based on L.F. Baum’s The Wizard of Oz, the film is produced by the WJTeam studio.
His debut Dokument is one of the most beautiful animated films of the past few months. It tells the story of the director’s father, whose grown children have long left the family town of Jarosław and who struggles with emptiness, loneliness, and a sense of lacking fulfillment. The beautiful and simple story told by Podolec evokes associations with the classic Syn (Son) by Ryszard Czekała, and impresses the viewer with its humility and its truthfulness.
Jakub Socha wrote about Dokument for the Dwutygodnik magazine:
"Different than in the majority of short animation films, the form doesn’t veil the main figure – the director’s old father, who tries to chase his loneliness away by switching on all the lights in the house in which emptiness seems to haunt each corner. Upon receiving his award, Podolec claimed that his happy father gave him a bar of chocolate for the film. I am not at all surprised by the chocolate – this 7 minute long portrait is wiser than most Polish films.”
Podolec is also a recognised comic strip artist. His Czas (Time), with the script by Grzegorz Janusz, was hailed comic of the year in 2011 at the International Comic and Game Festival in Łódź. His Wszystko zajęte (Everything Taken) and Fugazi Music Club also received great reviews.
Her student film Kto by pomyślał? (Who Would Have Thought?) (2009) received awards at the most prestigious festivals in Poland and abroad, and her animation work for Do serca Twego (To Your Heart) was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlinale International Film Festival in 2014.
The films of Borysewicz are postcards from reality, filtered through the poetically ironic sensitivity of the artist. In No dobra, she showed random people engaged in everyday senseless activities. Kto by pomyślał? was a pastiche on reportage and documentary films, in which a journalist talks to the dwellers of one neighbourhood about a man who has perished – and although no one knows the man in question, everyone feels obliged to share their remarks about him.
Her newest film, Do serca Twego is an ironic and humorous tale of an unhappy love, which takes place in an industrial suburban neighbourhood. The young heroine, disappointed with her love life thus far, takes revenge on the masculine kind while dreaming about an honest feeling.
Agnieszka Sural wrote about the work of Borysewicz in an article on Culture.pl:
"Borysewicz draws on paper, she does not use contemporary computer animation and this underscores a sense of authenticity in her films, all the stronger thanks to the specially prepared sound score. The hand-drawn sketches are imperfect much like the reality that the artist presents.”
One of the brightest stars of Polish animation. He is a graduate of the animation and special effects department of the Łódź Film School, and since 2006, he collaborates with the Platige Image company. It was there that he realised his Paths of Hate (2010), an animation that found itself among 10 Academy Award nominees, and which brought him awards in Annecy and at the Comic-Con festival. This was not his first success, either – previously the director realised two short animated films which were also honoured at the festivals where they were shown – The Aim (2005) and Wielka ucieczka (The Great Escape) (2006).
Presently, next to Paths of Hate, Miasto Ruin (City of Ruins) is Nenow’s most acclaimed film. It is a stereoscopic, digital reconstruction of Warsaw before its destruction during World War II. In 2011, the film was presented with the prestigious Muse Award. Nenow is now working on Another Day of Life, a film based on the book by Ryszard Kapuściński. It will depict the Polish reporter’s journey to Angola in 1975. Another Day of Life is a Polish-Spanish-German-Belgian coproduction.
Author: Bartosz Staszczyszyn, 15.07.2015, translated by Paulina Schlosser, 24.07.2015