Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Folkloric Oscar Nom'd Short 'Blind Vaysha' Now Available Online in Full

Blind Vaysha, a short film with all the earmarks of a folktale, though it is based on a relatively new story, was nominated for the 2017 Academy Award® for Best Animated Short Film. It was recently made available for everyone to watch online in it's entirety and, as intriguing as the trailer was, when the whole is viewed, it's easy to see why this nabbed a nomination. 

If you haven't seen it, it's worth taking the 8-ish minutes to watch. It's very folkloric in feel and form, though, in true modern style, doesn't wrap a neat bow for the listener at the end. It's wonderfully done and feels quite unforgettable...
This short film tells the story of Vaysha, a young girl born with one green eye and one brown eye. But colour isn’t the only thing that’s different about Vaysha’s gaze. While her left eye sees only the past; her right sees only the future. Like a terrible curse, Vaysha’s split vision prevents her from inhabiting the present. Blinded by what was and tormented by what will be, she remains trapped between two irreconcilable temporalities. “Blind Vaysha,” they called her. (Official summary)

In this metaphoric tale of timeless wisdom and beauty based on the eponymous short story by Georgi Gospodinov, filmmaker Theodore Ushev reminds us of the importance of keeping our sights on the present moment.
Using the linocut style, a printmaking variant of woodcut that he has specialized in since age 12, Ushev animated the entire short himself, creating somewhere between 12k-13k drawings. With a unique algorithm at hand, Ushev completed Blind Vaysha in a record six months. 
“You don’t animate characters – you animate the colors,” Ushev said. After separately animating each color and digitally printing, his algorithm superimposed the layers, creating a distinct, hand-printed look. As it kept the colors moving constantly, the algorithm made each frame a unique work of art. The style feels and looks like classic European folk tales, achieving an aesthetic that is both familiar and unusual. In cooperation with what could be considered a dark theme for an animated film, the short mirrors much of the anxiety we feel in today’s world and grants the audience a chance to really interpret the film themselves with a sort of interactive ending.
Canadian actress, Caroline Dhavernas (Wonderfalls, Dr. Alana Bloom in Hannibal) narrates the tale beautifully (both in the French and English versions), as if telling the tale to children, which is the perfect tone, ultimately leaving the viewer with questions - as intended. 

This little film will likely come up again in the near future however: it's rumored that it's now being developed and adapted into a virtual reality (VR) work. We can only imagine how much of an impression this tale will make in that medium!

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