First project is new film from the acclaimed director Sylvain Chomet, that broke into fame with his short film The Old Lady and the Pigeons, and later delivered to us another award winning full length feature The Triplets of Belleville. In the age of 3D computer animation he is still using traditional hand drawn animation techniques, and his grotesque visual style on the edge of surreal creates very strong emotional response, at least for me.
Last few years he has been working on the new film called The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste). Very interesting thing about this movie, is that the screenplay was written by Jacques Tati in 1956, which makes this film even more intriguing. As Tati, Chomet also likes more silent style, emphasizing the visual side and physical body language and mime of the characters over dialogs and language use. Tati was very good in that part, and Chomet already proved that he can do interesting things with just lines and color.
The story is about struggling magician, that as entertainer can no longer appeal with his show to the young generation, which prefers popular rock n' roll bands instead. The illusionist then travels to more remote places, seemingly untouched by the modern influences, and in one of such places he meets young girl who is convinced he is a real magician.
Tati, that also starred in his own films, wrote the story for himself and his own daughter, planning to make it live action movie, but passed away before making it. His daughter suggested to Chomet to adapt the screenplay into animated film, because she didn't want an actor to play the role of her father. Who who can possibly play Tati anyway.
So great Jacques Tati will live once again as animated character in The Illusionist, directed by Chomet, and I don't think enough people realize how incredible it is.
The film is in latest stages of post-production right now, with plans to be released this year. Here is number of pictures taken from it. Click for a larger view.
Next is 3D animation from Russia.
Started in 2002 as a loose adaptation of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King by Hoffmann, and designated for kids, it slowly turned out to be even more loose adaptation of the tale for much older audience, with slow motion action, explosions and even a bit of sex appeal. The story also changed from more classic direction to current times, with all modern characters that live modern life.
The film was advertised as first Russian 3D animation and was suppose to be released in October of 2007. But the release was postponed. Since then, other movie took the "first Russian 3D animation" title away from it, and the name of the film was changed as well, from original Krakatuk it became to be Our Masha In Strawberry Land.
New release date - unknown right now, and with each day bigger the chances that the movie is simply doomed, which is strange because it was pretty much completed. And all signs point to that direction - official website was closed, the title no longer appear on the production company site, and since 2007 no new material is available. So what you see here is the promotional stuff for the never happened 2007 release, including the following trailer.
The story is about magical nut Krakatuk, that can fulfill any wish but only one, that accidentally arrives to Earth. Found by a teenager Masha, it transports her and her toys to the magical land of berries, which controlled by an evil Rat Emperor. The toys become humans, and together with Masha and Emperor's brother they will participate in adventure, that will be a tale of friendship and love, of good and evil.
More info and screenshots can be found here.
Speaking of Hoffmann, another Russian animated film is trying to adapt his works. This time the approach is quite different - no CGI and no computer graphics. Instead we are talking about puppets and old school stop motion animation, produced by the oldest and most famous Russian animation studio Soyuzmultfilm.
The film will be called Gofmaniada and "will be based around three of Hoffmann's tales (Klein Zaches, The Golden Pot and The Sandman), with the main character being Hoffmann himself. In particular, it will focus on the duality between the imaginative universe of his writings and his real-life profession as a government clerk which will be based on his letters and journals".
The film is in production from 2001 and it's future looks brighter than the one above. Maybe because the studio receives support from the government. During the production, various articles with updates were published in Russian press, indicating 2009 as possible year of release. One of such reports is video segment shown in the news broadcast, showing actual footage from the film.
Some photos are available as well. Press here to download collection of images and concept art from the film.
And the last one is project that is well known by now and much anticipated, but I'll post it as an update anyway.
It is Serbian animated film Technotise: Edit & I, which looks absolutely stunning. Visually this animation is on the highest level and not falling far from any major Japanese anime, it was in process of making for 8 years. Written and directed by comics artist Aleksa Gajić, the film is based on his Technotise graphic novel and will be released in September this year.
The plot is set in 2074 Belgrade. The main character is Edit, a female psychology student. After failing the same university exam for the sixth time, she decides to visit a dealer on the black market who installs a stolen military chip in her to help her pass. To her surprise, the chip affords her abilities greater than she ever imagined. And, needless to say, the government/military is intent on getting back the chip. From that moment, her life changes and unusual things start happening to her.
Check out two video clips from this amazing sci-fi flick.
Visit official website, and there is also nice article (in English) about the film.