Youthful Spirit

27 May 2019

We talk to Joanna Wapniewska, author of the animation Vitae Azilia shortlisted for the international short film competition and the Polish film competition, about her directorial debut, the charms of classic animations and the unique atmosphere of the Kraków Film Festival.

The Animated Film Studio in Bielsko-Biała where you created Vitae Azilia is famous for its iconic animations for kids, such as Bolek and Lolek and The Adventures of Baltazar Gąbka. But your directorial debut is an animation for adults.

Joanna Wapniewska: Working with the studio was a fascinating experience, because we met at a groundbreaking point marking the return of original art animations. They have growing audiences, and the demand for these productions is increasing. I am the first director to be working with the studio in this new capacity.

What was the most important element in this collaboration for you?

I got to work with artists and animators who developed some of the most popular productions we know and love from our childhoods. More than anything, though, I learned classic animation techniques, which unfortunately are in sharp decline. It was a huge pleasure, and I very much hope that the studio will be able to continue working under this formula. Computer animation is undoubtedly effective and easier to create in terms of time and costs. Hand-drawing require vast amounts of talent and observational skill.

In the era of 3D animations and huge CGI productions, what made you choose classic animation?

As a graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, I decided that my debut film should step away from digital animation, although of course postproduction is computerised. Looking at it from the perspective of time and work needed, I think I will reach for 3D technologies in my future projects, although in a purely technical sense to speed up production. I think that the absence of 3D in my work gives it a more abstract, intimate form and makes it authentic.

How important is it to you, as a debuting director, to have bene qualified to two competitions as part of such a major event as the Kraków Film Festival?

I am absolutely delighted! I have had close ties with Kraków for many years and I have been attending the festival regularly since my student days. My inclusion in the international short film competition and the Polish competition of the Kraków Film Festival is the perfect culmination of this stage of my artistic career. It’s also a great honour.

How would you encourage artists to submit their works and audiences to attend the festival?

I think if time allows, you should absolutely buy a full pass and get yourself completely immersed in the festival and its unforgettable atmosphere. It is a terrific time when we can allow ourselves to break out of our daily rhythm and watch myriad different, carefully selected films from all over the globe, take part in various accompanying events, and – most importantly – meet artists. For me, being able to talk to directors is even more valuable than simply watching their films.

Speaking as a young director myself, I can only encourage artists to submit their works and join in with the festival events. Each year I am filled with brand-new ideas and left brimming with energy. The organisers are simply brilliant and incredibly helpful. Although the festival isn’t exactly a spring chicken, you feel at every step that it is imbued with a genuine youthful spirit.

Interviewed by Justyna Skalska

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