This 2002 animated film by Haitian Canadian filmmaker Martine Chartrand takes us through Black history as a young boy hears stories from his grandmother. The gorgeous and bold images show scenes of village life, history of cultures on the African continent, the corruption and evil of slavery, work in the cotton fields, Emancipation, Industrial Revolution, fighting in world wars and the civil rights movement. It’s a beautiful, moving and graceful piece of art that tells history with a simple directness that gives the film immense power. It seems to have been animated by using a paint on glass technique in which certain parts of the image are erased and repainted to create frame by frame motion.
Another film by Arthur Lipsett, the filmmaker who is the subject of an upcoming animation by Theodore Ushev. This one is called 21-87 and it’s a masterpiece. It seems to have something to do with trying to see how people are deadened somehow by the modern world. The filmmaker uses documentary clips in a mix-up with collage audio that unsettles the viewer. What is this life force behind us? And why do we keep trying to behave like machines?
Here is a well-known film by Arthur Lipsett, the filmmaker who is the subject of an upcoming animation by Theodore Ushev. It’s called Very Nice, Very Nice. It features a layered collage soundtrack with still photos and film clips. It conveys a general sense of unease and remoteness in urban people of 1961. I like it with the possible reservation that it relies too heavily on photographs. I think it’s very tricky to use still photos in a film and pull it off and I’m not sure that Lipsett is entirely successful. It’s good, but has a static quality, a reserve that I don’t fully admire. The filmmaker is too well-behaved and does not pull the trigger.
Theodore Ushev, the animator who made the ‘Help Haiti’s Children’ poster that we use on this blog, has a new short film coming. It’s called Lipsett Diaries and is about a Canadian experimental filmmaker Arthur Lipsett who struggled with mental problems and died very young. I think Ushev takes animation very seriously as art and film. I always want to draw something right after watching anything he’s made.
The NFB (National Film Board of Canada) has just released a new free iPhone app that lets you watch hundreds of their films. You can use the app even while you’re away from hotspots by downloading films for viewing during a 24-hour period. The NFB is one of my favorite places on the web for film. They just do it the right way. They make it easy.
This is an excellent way to distribute their huge collection of ground-breaking films.
You can get the app at the iTunes store.