11:00 AM - 1:30 PM EDT
Friday May 14 at 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM EDT
Bus Stop Остановка
Nina Bisyarina (2016) 7 min
How Much Does the Cloud Weigh? Сколько весит облако?
Nina Bisyarina (2018) 5:30 min
Little Big Dream Маленькая большая мечта
Nina Bisyarina (2018) 5:30 min
Running after Wall Бег за стеной
Liana Makaryan (2020) 9:58 min
Anna, Cat-and-Mouse Анна, кошки-мышки
Varya Yakovleva (2020) 5:27 min
Once upon a Time There Was a House Жил-был дом
Svetlana Andrianova (2017) 5:09 min
Lucky Ticket Счастливый билет
Svetlana Andrianova (2019) 4:12 min
Very Lonely Cock Очень одинокий петух
Leonid Shmelkov (2015) 5:46 min
Lola the Living Potato Лола живая картошка
Leonid Shmelkov (2018) 17:18 min
About a Mother Про маму
Dina Velikovskaya (2019) 7:20 min
Dina Velikovskaya (2019) 7:39 min
11:00 AM - 1:30 PM EDT
Saturday May 15 at 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM EDT
Stanislav Sokolov (2018) 75 min
Curator: Olga Klimova (University of Pittsburgh)
Introduced by: Stanislav Sokolov (director, professor of animation at VGIK)
Respondent: Lora Mjolsness (University of California, Irvine)
Discussion Host: Olga Klimova (University of Pittsburgh)
Olga Blackledge and Olga Klimova — Russian animation boasts a long and famous tradition. Officially, the history of Russian animation goes back to Ladislas Starevich, a Russian animator of Polish origin, who developed and popularized puppet animation produced by the stop-motion method. And yet he was neither the first to use the method, nor the first to use puppets in animation. He was preceded by several film directors, including Arthur Melbourne-Cooper (UK) and Aleksandr Shiriaev (Russia). Nevertheless, the originality of Starevich’s characters—anthropomorphized insects—as well as his international fame—he emigrated to France after the Revolution of 1917 and became an influential animation director in Europe—made Starevich an ideal figure for “the father of Russian animation.” Indeed, the official Russian Animation Day celebrated annually on 8 April, was the anniversary of one of Starevich’s most famous films—The Beautiful Leukanida—which was screened for the first time in 1912.
The fact that Russia celebrates a national animation day is reflective of the special status of animation in the Russian social imaginary, which goes back to Soviet ideas of the didactic importance of animation and its potential to facilitate bringing up the new Soviet citizen. Soyuzmultfilm, the animation studio established by the Soviet government in 1936 for the purpose of conveyer production of drawn animation, was the largest in Europe at the time, and the first initially to specialize in the production of animation for children. Starting in the late 1950s, animation again begins to explore the production of films with topics that were also oriented to grown-up audiences. Incidentally, the Thaw also became the time of the revival of puppet animation—the animation technique that had not been used in Russia in fully animated film since Starevich’s emigration.
During Soviet years, the animation industry was state-sponsored, which generally freed animation from the necessity of being commercially viable and allowed for experimentation and the development of auteur animation. Films produced by such directors as Valentina and Zinaida Brumberg, Boris Dezhkin, Fedor Khitruk, Iurii Norstein, Ivan Ivanov-Vano, and others, defined the aesthetic traditions of Soviet animation. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the system of state sponsorship, Russian animation experienced a difficult period, but recent developments in Russian animation are indicative of nothing short of a current animation boom.
The 2020 catalogue of the Russian Animated Film Association (RAFA) lists 49 animation companies, most of which emerged within the past ten years, as well as hundreds of animated series, shorts, and features produced that last year (2020) or currently in production. Many of the listed films and series have enjoyed commercial success. For instance, in recent years, the feature films produced by studio Melnitsa (particularly famous for its Bogatyrs series) have had considerable box office success. Some of the listed animated films and series also have achieved international fame and strong following, the most famous of which, the animation series Masha and the Bear (Animaccord Animation Studio), is currently streamed on Netflix and has been included in Guinness World Records in 2019 thanks to the episode “Recipe for Disaster,” watched 3.4 billion times (about 4.5 billion times as of now) on YouTube alone.
To a large degree, the recent success of Russian animation is also indicative of the higher level of Russian state financial involvement in animation production—with RAFA’s active lobbying, the animation industry continues to receive state sponsorship, allowing for the development of not only commercial, but also of auteur animation.
The University of Pittsburgh panel that takes place on Friday, 14 May, presents eleven films by six contemporary Russian animation auteurs: Svetlana Andrianova, Nina Bisiarina, Liana Makarian, Leonid Shmel’kov, Dina Velikovskaia, and Varia Iakovleva. They belong to different generations of animators and in their work, they use different styles and techniques. All of these techniques, however, including the weightless lines in Velikovskaia's Ties, the minimalistic drawings of Andrianova’s Lucky Ticket and Once upon a Time There Was a House, the schematic watercolors of Bisiarina’s How Much Does the Cloud Weigh?, the rustic cut-outs of Iakovleva’s Anna, Cat-and-Mouse, and the post-impressionistic Lola the Living Potato by Shmel’kov, celebrate the limitless potential of animation and create unique and exciting imagery.
The Pitt panel on Saturday, 15 May, presents Stanislav Sokolov’s Hoffmaniada (2018). Hoffmaniada is a feature-length stop-motion animated films, produced by the studio Soyuzmultfilm. The film is based on three works by German Romantic author E. T. A. Hoffmann: Little Zaches, The Golden Pot, and The Sandman. The works are connected through the introduction of the character of Hoffmann himself. In this film, Sokolov’s interest is in a detailed exploration of the imaginary realm, and his focus is on the emotional and metaphysical state of his characters. Sokolov’s Hoffmaniada is an important example of Russian stop-motion animation, as it combines old and new traditions of Russian puppet animation, attracting both adult and children’s audiences, and exploring the borders between the real and the imaginary.