ANIMATION BREAKDOWN 2015: Karel Zeman: Adventurer in Film + Inspiration

Live set from DJ Jasmin Blasco!

Co-presented by the Consulate General of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles, Czech That Film, and Screen Novelties

Join us on a Journey to Prehistory… the prehistory of special effects! Before CGI, before there were entire teams of post-production technicians, before the endless barrage of high-budget fantasy films, early animator Karel Zeman was creating technically astounding visual masterpieces, using the kind of masking and in-camera editing that is arduous enough for a still photographer; for a filmmaker it was painstaking (and high-stakes!) labor. We are so excited to introduce the Cinefamily audience to Zeman, who is heralded and beloved in the Czech Republic and among hardcore animation fans, and is too little known outside these niches! Untrained as a filmmaker, Zeman taught himself how to animate by studying film prints of Felix the Cat cartoons, and hired artisans and craftsmen, not filmmakers, to aid him in creating immersive fantasy worlds, rife with “analog” special effects, and a contagious playfulness and conviviality. In this charming documentary portrait, Zeman’s former collaborators and fans (filmmakers Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton among them) speak of the mythical life and work of this impossibly innovative director, artist, magician, and perfectionist force.

Dir. Tomás Hodan, 2015, DCP, 80 min.

A sparking, splendorous, 35mm strip of joie de vivre, Inspiration is perhaps Karel Zeman’s most dizzyingly impressive work. With unimaginable precision, Zeman tells a story in a fragile, miniature world, animating hand-blown glass! He’s master of this delicate universe, like a painter, sculptor, and dreamer all at once. You’ve got to see this one to believe it.

Dir. Karel Zeman, 1949, 35mm, 10 min.

Watch the trailer for Karel Zeman: Adventurer in Film! YouTube Preview Image