Nighthawk by Spela Cadez Nighthawk by Spela Cadez

In this 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.

Today’s profile is Slovenian stop-motion animator Špela Čadež whose visually distinct works deal with tricky themes like addiction and domestic violence with compassion, humor, and no judgement.

In a sentence: Refreshingly honest, mature, and darkly comic forays into often uncomfortable, abusive and unspoken aspects of humanity.

Where to start: Nighthawk (2016). This black comedy follows a boozy badger on a blurry drive through darkened streets. A cross between Charles Bukowski, Bullitt, and a surreal nature documentary, at its core, Nighthawk is a raw and emotional portrait of the destructive and heartbreaking effects of addiction.

What to watch next: Boles (2012). The film that landed Čadež on the international animation map. A beautifully constructed story about the relationship between Filip, a struggling, ambitious writer and his neighbour, Tereza, a prostitute. Also: Read Cartoon Brew’s interview with Čadež about the film.

Other key works: Zasukanec (2004), Lovesick (2007), Orange is the New Black – Unraveled (2017).

Influences: Raimund Krumme, Koji Yamamura, Michaela Pavlatova, Igor Kovalyov

Says: “I usually take something in my life that bugs me, and try to digest it through my work. Something that’s close to me, that’s inside of me – I find that this makes for the most honest films.”

Currently working on: Čadež’s latest short, Steakhouse, debuted in late 2021. It has won numerous awards including the grand prix at the Brussels Animation Festival, jury award at Bucheon Animation Festival, and best animation technique at Ottawa. It was nominated for best short subject at the Annie Awards.

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Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson

Chris Robinson is a writer and Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF). Robinson has authored thirteen books including Between Genius and Utter Illiteracy: A Story of Estonian Animation (2006), Ballad of a Thin Man: In Search of Ryan Larkin (2008), and Japanese Animation: Time Out of Mind (2010). He also wrote the screenplay for the award-winning animation short, Lipsett Diaries.

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