When I visit the Cinefamily, I know I’m in for a treat and often a rare find. As a lot of their programming is a bit on the disturbing side however, I was pretty curious to see what their children’s show might look like (and yes, I took a chance and brought children along) so I went to see The Enchanted World of Children’s Animation Sunday as part of the Masters of Polish Animation series.
Presented by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Cinefamily, the series boasted a few gems of Polish animation and stop-motion, all shorts produced between 1958 and1975, when de-Stalinization gave way to a renewed creativity and state-sponsored works, liberating the artists from concerns of financial success.
Apparently, there is a whole rich world out there of Polish animation, colorful, extremely imaginative, very playful and innovative. The pieces for children are especially gentle, with many different graphic styles, ranging from stop-motion to psychedelic Yellow Submarine type to minimalist drawings.
The cat and mouse chase has got to be one of the oldest themes of animation but it just works! CAT AND MOUSE by Wladyslaw Nehrebecki made an enchanting piece even for very young ones with a clever mouse outsmarting the drawing of a cat come alive. Another chase in one of the pieces was a very unusual one: buttons escaping from sewing needles in Teresa Badzian’s stop-motion BUTTON.
My favorite had to be THE LITTLE QUARTET by Edward Sturlis in which Etruscan statues come alive for a wild jam, scored by Jerzy Matuszkiewicz, who also scored CAT AND MOUSE. I have now become a fan of Polish jazz when I had no idea it existed and Jerzy Matuszkiewicz is up there with Vince Guaraldi in my book.
The only faux-pas of the evening: the trailer for the Animation Meltdown (of which this was a sub-section) with babies popping out of someone’s eyes and other twisted visuals are a bit much for a child audience. Yes, the lights were still on but the children were already sitting. I just knew it was risky.
In case your interest in animation has been piqued, the Cinefamily hosts Jerry Beck’s Animation Tuesdays every first Tueday of the month (most often not really for children) and you can also find several DVD anthologies of Polish Animation, including one just for children.
Films shown in program:
MYSZKA I KOTEK / CAT AND MOUSE
by Wladyslaw Nehrebecki, 1958, 8’30”
GUZIK / BUTTON
by Teresa Badzian, 1964,7’30”
KWARTECIK / THE LITTLE QUARTET
by Edward Sturlis, 1965, 7′
MALY WESTERN / A LITTLE WESTERN
by Witold Giersz, 1960, 5′
BAJKA / A TALE
by Ryszard Kuziemski, 1968, 10′
JA NAUKA WYSZLA Z LASU / NO KNOWLEDGE IS WASTED
by Julian Antonisz, 1970, 8′
ZEGNAJ PARO! / FAREWELL STEAM!
by Ryszard Antoniszczak, 1974, 10′
JESLI UJRZYSZ KOTA / IF YOU SEE A CAT
by Daniel Szczechura, 1971 , 5′
PIESEK W KRATKE / THE PLAID PUPPY
by Zofia Oldak, 1968, 8′
LOKOMOTYWA / LOCOMOTIVE
by Zbigniew Rybczynski, 1975, 6′