Offbeat animation films

Some unheard names of award-winning filmmakers came to forefront at the ‘Sequences: A Narrative of Animation’ film festival held at Instituto Cervantes over the weekend.

Suraj Prasad, one of the curators, told Metrolife, “Sequences is a result of four months of curatorial and executive work and is a landmark event in the journey of  Lightcube (film society which hosted the event). Our attempt is to trace the journey of animation in India and find the true aesthetics that belong to this land.”

One of the discussions featuring filmmaker Shilpa Ranade and animator Vivekananda Roy Ghatak was about Indian animation. The discussion traced the 100 years of Indian animation. The history of animation in India begins with the father of Indian cinema himself.

In the early 1910s, Dadasaheb Phalke created a short stop-motion animation, capturing the growth of a pea plant. Though this has been relatively under-represented in the film industry, Indian animation has been kept alive by artistes and filmmakers in forms as varied and creative as it can be.

Films like Fisherwoman and Tuk Tuk (Suresh Eriyat, 2015), Journey to Nagaland (Aditi Chitre, 2010), Raju

and I (Gayatri Rao, 2006), Printed Rainbow (Gitanjali Rao, 2006) brought to light the offbeat animation filmmaking scene.

The festival also featured work of Clair Weeks, a pioneer of Indian animation. This was a major piece in the puzzle in the not-so-well documented history of this medium of filmmaking. Son of a Methodist missionary, Weeks was born in India and was a source of humour for his co-workers at Disney.

After spending 16 years at the Disney Studios, working on Snow White, Bambi and Peter Pan in 1956, Weeks travelled to Bombay (now Mumbai) to set up and train the country’s first animation studio as part of the American Technical Co-Operation Mission.

In the studio, Weeks trained some animators for the Films Division of India (FDI). The film Banyan Deer was the result of Clair’s stint there that apparently lasted for about 18 months.

Ram Mohan, also was one of the students in 1956, and is generally acknowledged as one of the father figures of Indian animation.

Besides these, there were also seminars and lectures organised to inform the
audience about the current trends in the Indian animation industry.

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