“Lady with Long Hair” by Barbara Bakos

Lady with Long Hair by Barbara Bakos is our third debut in Cartoon Brew’s 2013 Student Animation Festival. The graduation film was produced at the Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design in Budapest, Hungary.

The film tells the story of an old woman who relives memories of her life contained within her hair. Bakos tackles the challenging concept using hand-drawn animation to create a sweet, memorable personality for her protagonist. The character is depicted as both frail with age and full of life and strength, which comes through especially when she bakes.

The film moves into expressionist territory with a visual analogy that ties together the flow of water with the woman’s long wavy hair. It builds to a particularly poignant ending that uses the hair to merge the character’s current reality with her memories.

Technically, the film is impeccable, with an eye for detail in every aspect of the art direction. Bakos applies color elegantly to distinguish between her characters’ present and past. She also unveils the story with cinematic language and uses the hair as a striking compositional element in numerous scenes.

Continue reading for comments from the filmmaker:

THE IDEA

The idea of the film came from my family and from my own grandma. When I was a child, I spent most of the time with my grandparents because I never wanted to go to the kindergarten. So I had a lot of lovely memories and adventures with them. We would sit in the backyard playing with little fingerpuppets, painting, and baking cherry pies together, and I was always amazed at how much my grandparents loved each other. Since my grandpa passed away, my grandma lives alone. Her personality, her feelings, memories and her point of view inspired me to make this short film about her lifelong love, and about that state of mind where you just can’t let go of the most important person in your life.

I have also a strange obsession with the hair. A few years ago it became my obsession to draw skyhigh hair and create little worlds in them depending on the characters it belonged to. I always think that hair is one of the most characteristic things about a person. How she/he styles it, or what colour it is. So when I started to develop this short film, I felt that I had to connect these two things.

TOOLBOX

It’s a traditionally hand-drawn animated film. I chose this technique because of the tactile nature of the medium, and I thought this was the best way to create a connection with the audience. During the whole film we are focusing on one granny. She has to tell us her past and her memories through her facial expressions rather than dialogue. Also I was using traditionally painted backgrounds and props. I then put together the final picture in After Effects.

CHALLENGES

It was the first time that I had to inspire and lead a lot of people at the same time—animators, editor, music composer, actress, 3D artist. It was also very useful to learn how to convince them that your idea is good, unique and worth the hard work! But the biggest challenge was to present the idea to my family and my grandma. It was an amazing moment when I saw my grandma’s face while she was watching the film.

INSPIRATIONS

Storywise and also visually, I was inspired by a lot of short films. I was most impressed by The Man with Beautiful Eyes from Jonathan Hodgson and Charles Bukowski, Father and Daughter from Michael Dudok de Wit, Sunday from Patrick Doyon and La Maison en Petits Cubes from Kunio Katō. I love stories that are based on childhood, and not just childhood, but how we remember those times—how memories are working if for instance, you go back to the same place where you grew up or spent summers. What kind of thoughts appear in your mind when you sense a familiar smell or the light is exactly the same as on an autumn afternoon decades ago.

WHERE YOU SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS

Right now, I am a freelancer art director and illustrator, which I really love. At the same time I would love to work in a big team where people can inspire each other. Also I am developing a new short at the moment so I really hope that five years from now it will be finished ☺

FILMMAKER WEBSITES

Personal website: BarbaraBakos.com




The Cartoon Brew Student Animation Festival is made possible by the generosity of our presenting sponsor JibJab.


  • Benjamin Arthur

    Wonderfully sensitive film-making, just fantastic. I’m so conditioned after seeing so many student shorts that are completely gag driven, I spent the first minute waiting for her hair to get caught in something or for us to find out something was living in her hair. It was great to see it simply embrace character and emotion.

  • Rachel Gitlevich

    What a lovely film! I enjoyed spending time in this old woman’s home. Amazing job!

  • Gavin Mouldey

    beautiful. The attention to texture, and little details in the bgnds is great. Love all her framed snaps.