In this ongoing series, we profile the most interesting independent animation filmmakers working today — the artists who, through short films and other projects, change our ideas of what the medium can do.
This week’s subject is Czech animator Michaela Pavlátová, director of the feature My Sunny Maad and a 1993 Oscar nominee for her short film Words, Words, Words (Řeči Řeči Řeči), whose comic short films explore the complications and pains of relationships.
In a sentence: Pavlátová’s beautifully designed films obsessively probe how language, boredom, sex, desire, and, of course, death inevitably mess up marriages and relationships.
Where to start:Repete (1995). Repete is a philosophical comedy about the ruts people get into in relationships. The anchor point is a man taking his dog for a walk. As they walk, we encounter three scenes with them: a woman feeding her husband; a woman freeing a suicidal man before rejecting him – which leads him back to trying suicide again; and a couple’s attempt to make love being interrupted by a ringing phone. The couples repeat their routines again and again until the dog gets loose, causing a chaos in which the three partnerships collide and intermingle. Fresh possibilities are discovered – at least temporarily. Funny, beautifully animated and edited, Repete is a mini-marvel about the danger, tedium, and inevitably of mindlessly drifting into repetitive life cycles.
What to watch next:Tram (2012), winner of the Annecy Crystal in 2012, continues Pavlavota’s comic explorations of sex, desire and relationships, this time through a lonely tram conductress who gets lost in saucy fantasies to get her through her humdrum day.
Other key works: Absolut Vodka spot (1996), Words, Words, Words (1991), Carnival of Animals (2006)
Influences: Yuri Norstein, Zbigniew Rybczyński, Zdenko Gašparović
Says: “Somehow, male/female relationships are still the most interesting theme for me. It embraces everything, can be funny, ridiculous, dramatic, exciting, anything, you can get a comedy as well as a tragedy.”
Currently working on: Preparing a new animated feature, Night Tram, featuring the main protagonist from her short film, Tram.