Breathtaking Animation

Jaap Mees


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Suzie Templeton and Becalelis Brodskis are two extraordinary talented animators.

They set up a production company with the peculiar name Doctorpuss to fund experimental and collaborative work. Suzie studied at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, where she made the multi- award winning animation Stanley about a giant cabbage who behaves rather strangely.

Stanley.Then she worked on two Channel 4 films, the Oscar shortlisted Silence  by Sylvie Bringas and, Andares in Time of War by Alejandra Jimenez. In 2001 she made the fantastic puppet animation Dog, as her graduation film for the Royal College of Art in London.

Becalelis  studied  at the Norwich School of Art. Sculpture and printmaking were his most important ways of expression. He also worked as a stone carver and published Jakob and the Angel,  a kind of comic. Then he moved on to study animation at the Royal College of Art, where he graduated with his autobiographical animated The Father, The Ram, My Dad and Me.

At the College he used the facilities to the maximum  and developed his own more experimental style, compared to Suzie who prefers to work with a clear narrative, not as an aim in itself, but more to give her ideas a solid structure.

Becalelis has now been commissioned by Universal to make another animation. First the experimental The Line by Becalelis. In this short film he lies in a bed in a white space. He steps out naked and draws a black line with  paint on the floor, the line ends in a black square, he covers himself completely with paint and disappears in to this square. After sometime he walks slowly back to the bed, leaving footprints on the floor. Then he goes to the bathroom to wash all the black paint off, it becomes clear that the black square symbolises a personal crisis. When the camera returns to the empty space, you can see some of that struggle captured by paint in the square.

Inside by Suzie is a short sand animation projected onto live action. It’s a dream like work about a beast in blue tints. We see a quick  image of a roaring lion, invading  a woman’s space. It’s inspired by a quote from the writer Angela Carter: “I think he'll lick the skin off me.” In Suzie’s own words: “ A beast prowled outside my window, I let him in.”

\The Father, The Ram, My Dad and Me.The earlier mentioned The Father, The Ram, My Dad and Me by Becalelis is a highly original, personal and moving animated cartoon about Becalelis’ father, who is an artist in his own right. Painful memories are shown of Becalelis as a little boy, when his tender parts are getting stuck in the zip of his trousers, ouch!!! This is  shown in a Super 8mm clip, where we see Becalelis as a jaunty boy with red cheeks and curly hair. Through a magical transition, the figure 8 on a coin of a man’s change in a café in Soho is connected with a boy drawing the 8 in the sand. We are transferred to Tangiers in Africa, where Becalelis’ father met his mother. This is sketched in bright colours and striking African looking compositions, with rags of Klezmer music on the soundtrack. Later on the viewer is taken to the Colony Room in Soho, where Becalelis was conceived by an egg which his father dropped by chance straight in to his mother’s glass of Bloody Mary…. It’s really amazing to see how much imagination, depth and beautifully crafted visuals Becalelis manages to press in to an eight minutes film. The animation is dedicated to peace between the tribes of Abraham.

Shade of the Fig Tree by Becalelis is a short live action film about two nude women, one slim and one plump, who are meant to be part of the same person. It’s made in an intriguing  experimental style.

Dog.Suzie’s graduation film Dog is an exquisitely made puppet animation about a young boy with red hair and a sad face, who is reassured by his worried looking father about the way his mother died. The boy’s dog gets more and more ill with bad consequences...

Everything about this animation is wonderfully subtle and delicate. The puppets, dog and props are beautifully crafted, the music is just right, the lighting is magical and most special of all are the sorrowful expression on the faces of the father and son, with an enormous depth of feeling in the eyes, which are extremely well captured. 

Dog won the McLaren Award for best New British Animation at the Edinburgh Film Festival and the Grand Prix at the Ottawa Student Animation Festival.  And rightly so, it’s the best and most refined animation I have ever seen in my life, to say Dog is a masterpiece is an understatement!

For more information about  Suzie and Becalelis animation on VHS , contact The Course Secretary, Animation Department, Royal College of  Art. Email: anim@rca.co.uk 
 
 
 
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