Show some character(s)!

Here are some character sheets from my new short ‘Seguidilla of the Femminiello’. The aesthetic is a mix inspired by classic 90s Disney characters and Sylvain Chomet’s masterwork, The Triplets of Belleville. However, most of the characters are based on real life people, like the two Godmothers below.

Pollon dad died.

On the 3rd of October the great Hideo Aduma passed away.

Besides his many achievements as a manga artist and cartoonist, he was the genius who created Little Pollon, one of my fave childhood tv cartoons. Aduma used to start each episode by portraying himself as a narrating, weird fly character with a human head, wearing an ink pen hat and often carrying a red flask. This was his self portrait, those were his props; the hagiographic attributes of a man, kind of like the Asian Bukovsky in cartoon form.

His life of great professional achievements came with a high price when, in the 90s, Aduma disappeared for months at a time in a bubble of alcohol, at the fringes of society. He came back on the scene in 2005 with a fictionalised account of these troubled times in his life.

Aduma is the little character in the bottom left corner.

An English language version of Disappearance Diary, published by Ponent Mons, explains:

In 1989 Hideo Azuma left his family and work and tried (unsuccessfully) to hang himself using the slope of a mountain. This autobiographical account of his slide into alcoholism and eventual recovery takes painful experiences from the darkest reaches of his mind and treats them with an overriding sense of a cartoonist’s humor.

Source: Comic Natalie

Seguidilla of the Femminiello

Last week I pitched a movie idea to the English National Opera and my project was selected! Below is the research I undertook to come up with the concept.

We were asked to choose a song from one of the ENO productions and I choose an extract from Carmen. This inspired me to talk about the tradition of the “Femminielli”: an ancient manifestation of the third gender, exclusively in the city of Naples. In the 19th century, The Femminielli were usually the eldest son, of the very poor families, that would take care of the house and others. As a result, this son would assume female looks and behaviours. Later in life, he would be taken into a rich family’s house in the belief that he would bring good luck. In post-war Italy, the Femminielli became associated with sex work in the old neighbourhood of Quartieri Spagnoli. Every year, in during the Easter period, the Femminielli would perform a fictional marriage, “The Matrimonio dei Femminielli”, and parade through the streets while the rest of the city joined in a display of human warmth and acceptance (that is Naples at heart!).

Styleframe from the last scene. Copyright Pafo Gallieri-2019

My movie got selected for MEET Festival so I got myself a mini break in Rome!

My movie was part of this year’s Official Selection for the MEET Film Festival in Rome. The Movies for European Education and Training was so kind to invite me to stay for the duration of the kermesse that took place in the gorgeous neighbourhood of the Garbatella.

There I stayed in one of the famous ‘Lotti’, the modernist council houses built before, and during, the Fascist Regime in the unique revivalist and eclectic “Barocchetto Romano”; a style that blossomed in early 20s Rome. This was based on the urban model of the city garden but was also permeated by architectural citationism.

The Teatro Garbatella, main venue of MEET filmfestival 2019.

It was wonderful to see Rome in October again. The weather is still summery even though it’s autumn everywhere else in Europe. The Romans call these sunny days, where you go out and about, “Ottombrate”.

Even though my movie didn’t win a prize, I was happy to have it screened outdoor in Rome on a random evening in October. I wondered through the “Eternal City” for a couple of days with some old friends and went out dancing all night… all unplanned!

By the way, here is the link to the festival:

When I Leave Afghanistan

For the past two months, I have been working on a short animated documentary for The Children’s Society. The movie is based on an interview with a young Afghan refugee who arrived in the UK after a very difficult journey that led him to Calais, where he remained for five months before finding a safe place in the UK.

Below is a synopsis of the short:

When I Leave Afghanistan is a short animated documentary based on an interview with a young Afghan Refugee who arrived in the UK after a long and dangerous journey. The animation follows the protagonist and others through their journey from Afghanistan to Calais, including the moment when their status as refugees is recognised and they are saved from limbo.

The 3D animation was entirely realised in VR using Oculus Quill and the scenes were edited in Premier Pro. Working with Oculus Quill led to a character design that I would define as utilitarian. The characters were built with simple strokes, in an abstract style, so that I could go on render some of the scenes in Maya. Producing an animated interview was an experimental process to . To my knowledge, this is going to be the first animated documentary produced with Quill since the application was released in 2016.

Below are some still images from few scenes.

SINK WITHOUT TRACE @P21

I was coming home from uni and I bumped into this little boat that says Lampedusa-London on it, moored by the steps down to the canal in Granary Square.
I then discovered that it is a floating art installation by British artist, Lucy Wood. She sailed on an epic, four month solo trip from the Sicilian island of Lampedusa all the way to Granary Square. On its small deck are scattered the belongings of the migrants it carried from Libya. There were 35 of them. It seems hard to believe that they travelled through the Mediterranean on that tiny thing now gently floating on Regent’s Canal. The piece is in association with the show, Sink Without Trace, being held at P21 Gallery as part of Refugee Week. Please see link below:

https://www.sinkwithouttrace.com/

After looking at the artist’s work, could not help thinking of Lucy Wood as an anti-Christoph Büchel. The Swiss-Icelandic artist exhibited a shipwreck at the Venice Biennale earlier this year. It sank in 2015 killing between 700 and 1,100 migrants. While migrants are still drowning today, I’m not sure that the scene of one of the largest hecatombs at sea for the past ten years should be claimed by a conceptual artist so easily.

After reading few articles, however, I am left with the impression that this is the latest case of a big, contemporary art gallery paying a ridiculous amount of money to whoever it may be to grab something from a community. The title, Barca Nostra, that means “our boat”, should probably be changed to Barca Mia, my boat.

Put one day on the Bus a Junky and Marshall McLuhan…

I pointlessly went down to school today. I couldn’t find some files I thought I had on a computer there so I dragged my sorry body to King’s Cross on a packed Saturday afternoon. While on the bus I was thinking about what to write for my weekly blog post. Then I suddenly smelled boozy BO and realised that the person who’d just sat two rows behind me had been out since last night, at least. In London it seems that people avoid interacting with strangers like the plague; this practice is reserved for outcasts and the out-there mad. Going back to the junkie… he started talking to a guy that looked like a garden gnome coming to town in plain clothes by saying, “Where are we heading to? Nothing makes sense anymore. Look at the cartoons: once there was Looney Toons, Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry. Now cartoons all look the same. They say we are all the same, but this is bullshit! We are not the same, we are different! Look at me, I am not the same as a smart guy, we are different!” I don’t know why but I imagined what Marshall McLuhan would have made of the man’s talk. The father of modern media theory, whose most famous quote is “the medium is the message” had other lesser known expressions. One was “the man from the street”. I remember thinking it was hilarious; that it had something patronising and brutal about it at the same time. Was the junkie on the bus the 2019, London-version of the “the man from the street”? McLuhan would probably have reminded him that the content of the media is not what matters but the media itself. Materials for a blog post can be found in the most unexpected places; even from a junkie on the bus. The man was right though, cartoons have changed a lot since the Looney Toons, along with society.

Going back to the blog’s subject, that is animation, I found these amazing shorts commissioned by Al Jazeera and created by Daniel Savage about Marshall McLuhan.

The series is part of the Listening Post’s project: Media Theorised and I recommend it to anyone who may feel like the junkie on the bus.