Tuesday, 31 December 2013

(37) Short Film Sunday #22: Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna (1978)

Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna (1978).
It has come to that, this year is over, last few hours of 2013, when a door closes, a window opens, so get ready for 2014! Don't look back, only look ahead, get ready for your next year's adventures, remarkable achievements and exciting short and longer films! It will be fabulous.
I have decided to finish off Short Film Sunday this year with some great and captivating stories and an excellent soundtrack, tuck in, grab your glass of champagne/wine/fizzy something and enjoy Tom Waits: A Day in Vienna (1978).
Filmed in April, 1978/1979, there are still some discussions about the timeline of the film, however at the end of the film, in the titles it is written that it was 1978. The films starts with Tom Waits leaning against a pump in a gas station, while smoking a cigarette, and opens up with his story, how he once worked in a place like this... When in 1978/1979 Tom Waits was touring in Europe two Austrian filmmakers, Rudi Dolezal and Hannes Rossacher, approached him in Vienna, asking whether Waits would agree to do an interview. As Rossacher said, Waits "didn't want to do a proper interview, but instead he wanted to tell stories". Hope you enjoy!
So, my dear reader, live next year in a way that you have a handful of stories to tell while sitting down by a glass of champagne at the end of 2014.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

(36) Short Film Sunday #21: The Snowman (1982)

The Snowman (1982).

Who is there up in the air? Close your eyes and imagine. Never ever limit your imagination, let it fly free.
Only two nights left till Christmas Eve, and three till Christmas day, we should all remember that this is a magical time not only for kids, but for all of us. This should be time when to read folk tales, fairy tales, your own tales, it is a time to add a bit of magic to everyday life. Raymond Briggs' animated picture book without words "The Snowman", published in 1978, brings to its readers or shall I say viewers, a bit of magic, that there is something more than our eyes can see. In 1982 the book was brought to the screen in a 26 minute short film The Snowman, and for the first time it was screened on December 26, 1982, on Channel 4. Immediately it was nominated for an Academy Award. The short film, same as the book, is wordless, with an exception of the song "Walking in the Air", performed by St Paul's Cathedral's choirboy Peter Auty, who was not credited in the original version, so many think that the song was performed by Aled Jones.
The Snowman is an exceptional work of art, it was made using traditional animation techniques, pastels, pencils and other colouring tools, which were used on pieces of celluloid  and then traced over hand drawn frames. The film tells a story of a young boy James, who discovers Christmas and its magic, during Christmas night James learns about fragility of life, importance of imagination and above all he learns about the importance of friendship.
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of The Snowman, last year a sequel was made The Snowman and The Snowdog (2012).
The Snowman will bring to your home a white, happy and magical Christmas. Enjoy, my dear readers, and have a miraculous Christmas!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

(35) Short Film Sunday #20: What Do You Want for Christmas? (2009)

What Do You Want for Christmas? (2009).

Only nine days left till Christmas Eve. Excitement and hidden secrets in the wrapping paper! This is my favourite holiday time of the year, not only because Christmas is all about family, mountains of gingerbread cookies, clementines, candle light, snow and gifts, but also because of the fact, that my holiday time usually is prolonged, because my birthday is right after Christmas. Getting double as many gifts is always great! A bit selfish, but who doesn't enjoy getting gifts?
Many of us ask ourselves and our loved ones also, "What do you want for Christmas?" or "What do you need for Christmas?" And this slight change between "want" and "need" restricts our imagination of what we are going to get for our loved ones. Whether it is going to be something practical, something fun or sweet, or something that they are longing to get or something that they desperately need. I always try to keep it on the silver lining, I don't like to get things that will be sitting on the shelf and gathering dust, but at the same time I don't like to get every day things. The most important thing is to put a smile on the other person's face, that's what Christmas is all about!
This weeks short film asks you one simple question "What do you want for Christmas?" In the short you can get the whole spectrum of answers, going from a simple pair of gloves to a Lamborghini to peace on Earth, snow and having family home for Christmas. Selfish or giving, what do you really want for Christmas?
Enjoy, my dear reader!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

(34) Short Film Sunday #19: Le voyage dans la lune (1902)

Le voyage dans la lune (1902).

On December 8, 1861, in Paris, was born Georges Méliès, a great and important man in the history of moving pictures. By many he is considered "the father of the narrative film", Charlie Chaplin regarded him as "the alchemist of light", D.W. Griffith said "I owe him everything". To add to this, the first film that Riga, Latvia, born director Sergei Eisenstein saw, was a piece made by Méliès in Paris, in 1906.
Between 1896 and 1906 Méliès created Star Film company made around 500 films, from which less than 140 have survived. Méliès was a producer, director, writer, designer, cameraman and actor, he was the first to use dissolves, superimposition, time-lapse photography, art direction and artificial lighting effects. He showed that the camera can lie, Méliès used many optical effects. He was accused of producing kitsch and "genteel pornography", however Méliès main failing was "a paucity of imagination, which prevented him from exploiting fully the cinematic techniques he had devised".
Méliès was inspired by Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin, during his military service he visited the home of Robert-Houdin, who, although retired, once had been the leading stage magician in France. In 1888 Méliès purchased Robert-Houdin theater, from the great magician's widow. Above Robert-Houdin theater was Antoine Lumière's shop. Méliès realised that with the photograph one can alter the perception of reality, it was "the essence of magic". So, no surprise that on December 28, 1895, at 14 Boulevard des Capucines Méliès attended the first ever professional screening of movies with a projector, organised by none other than the Lumière brothers. Afterwards, Méliès bought a camera, "what followed is one of the outstanding early careers in film".
To celebrate his birthday, turn off the lights, light a candle and enjoy a science fiction adventure made by Méliès, Le voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902).

And if you want to go even further, watch Hugo (2011), and allow Martin Scorsese take you on an adventure in Paris with Méliès. If you want to grasp even more magic, watch Paul Merton's Weird and Wonderful World of Early Cinema. Enjoy!

P.S. I must admit I am proud that I was born on December 28, 1988, 93 years later after the first ever film screening took place. Planned trip to France on my 25th birthday, to visit the place where this wonder happened, but Scotland and mountains somehow won.

"History of Film. Second Edition." by David Parkinson.
"The Big Screen: The Story of the Movies and What They Did to Us" by David Thomson.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

(33) Short Film Sunday #18: How to Sharpen Pencils (2013)

How to Sharpen Pencils (2013).
Light and merry First Advent to everyone!
With Christmas around the corner comes warning about consumerism, don't be a victim to adverts and shopping centers, don't buy loads of stuff, instead, make your own gifts or at least put a little bit of your own work into gifts, it will be much appreciated by your friends and family, and me.
Pricefilms How to Sharpen Pencils is an enchanting short documentary about the almost lost and gone trade: pencil sharpening by hand. The short is practical and will teach you a trick or two about pencil sharpening, and there is a lot to learn, especially if you love drawing and want to treat your pencils with a respect.
The short has won several awards, including Sidewalk Film Festival award for the Best Documentary Short. Tune in, let the smile appear on your face and learn all about this artisan craft from David Rees.

Till next Sunday, my dear readers.