On Full Aperture: Animation

By Shotgun CinemaPublished on 07/14/2016

The impetus for this Saturday’s Full Aperture: Animation program came during our trip to the Nitrate Picture Show this past April. One of the films that we watched was Oskar Fischinger’s An Optical Poem (1937), an animated film he made for MGM. The images dance on screen in synch with Franz Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody, moving gracefully and visually bringing the music to life. It was exhilarating and visceral in ways that I hadn’t experienced while watching a film before: it was as if the music, aided by the moving shapes on screen, was felt corporeally. You can watch the film here.

After this unexpected delight, it was clear that we needed to share Fischinger’s work with New Orleans. Fischinger’s influence on cinema is significant and invaluable, particularly within his home country of Germany. His abstract animations, in conjunction with works from Walter Ruttmann, Viking Eggeling, and Hans Richter, helped position Germany as an innovative place for avant-garde filmmaking in the 1920s. Working with Hungarian chemist Dr. Bela Gaspar, Fischinger made one of the first color films in Europe by animating with Gasparcolor film, a three-color process on a single film strip. Fischinger’s work is well-maintained and archived at the Center for Visual Music, ensuring that screenings of his films, while rare, are a real treat. We’ve selected a black-and-white short (Study No. 9) and a color film (Circles) to hint at the dynamic range of his work. We’ll having programming notes on hand at the screening that will further delve into Fischinger’s fascinating career. (We’ve been perusing this book on his life, which we highly recommend for Fischinger fans.)

We’re pairing Fischinger’s seminal work with two equally kinetic shorts from animator Jodie Mack. Mack is one of the most active experimental filmmakers working, and her consistently groundbreaking and engaging work has been screened around the world. The physicality of her animation, particularly when projected on 16mm, displays a unique movement. And of course, we’re always excited to bring back films from filmmakers we’re presented in the past (we screened Let Your Light Shine, complete with prismatic glasses, at our January Full Aperture screening). We’ve chosenLilly, a stop-motion animation that uses photo negatives to share a tragic story from WWII, to highlight her unique blend of still photography and stop-motion animation. Yard Work is Hard Work extends her painstaking technique and creative vision into new realms. The animated musical is delightfully irreverent and breathtakingly resourceful, providing a contemporary counterpoint for blending animated motion pictures and music.

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