Loving 'Loving Vincent': Why first time feature director Dorota Kobiela is an inspiration to us all
'Loving Vincent', the world's first fully painted feature length film, is a work of art, and a calling to push boundaries further than ever before.
Making a film about the life and controversial death of Van Gogh seems like a reasonable enough artistic endeavour. Including his art in the film also seems straightforward enough. But first time feature director, Dorota Kobiela, wanted to take her project a step further - paint the entire film, every slide, and in doing so set a world record and do something never before seen in film.
Amidst a landscape of rapidly evolving CGI and VR, where the materials that artists and animators use are rapidly becoming solely digital, there is something gratifying about the film's return to oil paint and paper. The viewing experience is certainly startling by contrast to what we are visually accustomed to. Characters melt into landscapes, which shiver in colour with quivering brushstrokes. Thousands of paintings appear and disappears in milliseconds. We are thrown into Van Gogh's work, and we swim through his world in southern France, and explore his anguish, and his death. Every movement of each characters' face takes on new significance in painted form, and we are enraptured.
The film was not always set up to have its gargantuan proportions. Initially, the film was set to run at only 7 minutes. But director Kobiela saw it grow before her into a project that she could no longer just paint herself. But the support that she received, the creative enthusiasm, enabled the project. In an interview she described her experience. 'To have people who go for it and just suddenly say 'Ok, let's do the film of a first time director, that will be fully painted, in 65,000 frames,' I guess that takes courage, you know?' (Kobiela, BBC, 2017)
Courage is the right word. It is the prevailing term I would use for both the film and Kobiela herself.
But how did they do it?
Profane, devastating and hilarious; Martin McDonagh’s brutal and beautiful rendition of grief, loss and redemption make it a strong contender in the awards season, and one of my all time favourites.
It is a rare thing to make people laugh and cry moment to moment, ricocheting between feelings of complete devastation and hilarity. I have never found a film, nor any piece art, that achieves this delicate seesaw-ing in the way that McDonagh does in his masterpiece ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ (2017). It certainly deserves all seven of its Academy Award nominations.
The story begins when Mildred (Francis McDormand), a grieving mother, purchases advertising for three billboards in her small town of Ebbing, Missouri, which point blame at the town’s police for not solving her daughter’s murder case.
The film is characterized by its embrace of the imperfection of its characters, just as it embraces the darkest themes of sexual assault, abuse, murder, suicide and racism. Comedy is the last thing you would expect. And yet, this film will make you laugh.
new year, new career steps
We did it! We made it through Christmas, the New Year, slalomed through conversational potholes with our families, accepted socks with smiles, and we've tumbled into the new year. A little more padded round the waistband, a little worn down, and we can but sigh at the 'new year new you' mantras that fade into echoes around our head.
Another year, and yet I can't escape this odd buoyant optimism that's risen within me. I have made the decision to pursue the creation of film and television, and it gives me energy I'd forgotten I had. So as the Christmas tree decomposes on the pavement outside and every social media outlet tells us how to get our new year hot bod, I am energised by the prospect of working with new people in the year ahead, the mistakes I'll definitely make, and the work that I will create.
If you're interested in a sneaky snapshot of what I've been up to so far, here's a link to my show reel.