Eeva Eeva

Welcome to Cartoon Brew’s series of spotlights focusing on the animated shorts that have qualified for the 2024 Oscars. There are several ways a film can earn eligibility. With these profiles, we’ll be focusing on films that have done so by winning an Oscar-qualifying award at an Oscar-qualifying festival.

Today’s short film is Eeva by Morten Tšinakov and Lucija Mrzljak. The Estonia-Croatia co-production earned its Oscar qualification by winning the best animated short prize at the Nashville Film Festival.

Without dialogue, the film unspools in the aftermath of a funeral as a widow adjusts to life on her own. Surrounded by mourners and having had too much to drink, she struggles to conform to how others believe a widow should mourn.

Cartoon Brew: The character designs for the men in the film are strikingly similar, as are their personalities. Can you talk about this decision and how you decided on the blue-suited look for (almost) all of the men in the short?

Lucija Mrzljak
Lucija Mrzljak

Lucija Mrzljak: This answer will probably be a rather boring one. We just find a group of people dressed the same (and if they are acting the same as well, even better!) a bit funny. Also, in some scenes, there are quite a few of them, so to make the process of designing characters easier, we made them look similar.

What was it about this story or concept that connected with you and compelled you to direct the film?

Morten Tšinakov: I try not to think about concepts or themes when writing a film because I’ve discovered that working that way does more harm than good. For me, it’s more productive to start with some details and then try to connect them in some way. So, instead of a compelling concept, I liked some small details, connected them, and at some point thought, “Okay, I guess that’s a story now.”

What did you learn through the experience of making this film, either production-wise, filmmaking-wise, creatively, or about the subject matter?

Morten Tšinakov
Morten Tšinakov

Mrzljak: We learned that when making our previous films, we were rather lazy. There was an interesting moment when developing this film. we visited the Etiuda & Anima festival in Krakow, and they showed a retrospective of Igor Kovalyov’s work. The retrospective was amazing, and we decided that the visuals we had developed so far for Eeva were not good enough. We binned them and started from scratch. We put much more effort into this film than our previous ones. It was exhausting but completely worth it; we like this one a lot more.

Can you describe how you developed your visual approach to the film? Why did you settle on this style/technique?

Tšinakov: A part of this answer overlaps with the previous one. Other than that, we went through some old drawings that Lucija had made and thought that some of them suited the story very well. Lucija’s drawings are 100% hand-drawn and very detailed, though, and we would have needed a budget much bigger than what we had if we wanted to use them as they were, so we had to make some compromises.