Oscar nominee brings his magnum opus to Ottawa animation fest

The Physics of Sorrow

by Theodore Ushev

Screening: Short Film Competition 5, three p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, ByTowne Cinema, 325 Rideau St.

Meet the filmmaker: 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29, Club SAW, Arts Court, 67 Nicholas St.

Tickets and extra data: animationfestival.ca



Theodore Ushev.

STEPHAN BALLARD /

NFB

Montreal filmmaker Theodore Ushev describes his sombre new animated movie, The Physics of Sorrow, as a time capsule for Gen X, the technology that failed. 

“We were born in the ’60s, a very psychedelic, happy moment in the world,” says the 51 yr previous who was born and raised in communist Bulgaria. “When I entered grownup life, the Berlin Wall got here down, it was the tip of the Cold War and we had hope that the world was going to be paradise.

“But by some means now we see that really the world not solely didn’t develop into a greater place however it’s going again into the darkest moments in historical past with individuals coming to energy who need to take away the fundamental freedom.” 

He believes the post-Boomer demographic dropped the ball as a result of its members have been having an excessive amount of enjoyable. 

“I think our generation failed, and my explanation is because we were too colourful, we had too much partying,” he says. “We didn’t convince either our parents or our kids that we were serious. They thought we were too superficial.” 


Stills from The Physics of Sorrow by Theodore Ushev.

STEPHAN BALLARD /

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His new movie, a National Film Board manufacturing, is just not a criticism of that failure, however reasonably a meditative journey that depicts the disconnectedness of an immigrant, born into darkness and looking for that means all through his life, in the end realizing that he feels most at dwelling on an airplane.

“One day I hope the younger generation will open this time capsule and see that we were not so shallow,” Ushev says. “It’s not only our fault that the world became such a dark place.” 

The movie relies on a ebook Ushev purchased whereas on a visit to his dwelling nation a couple of years in the past. Written by Bulgarian writer Georgi Gospodinov, The Physics of Sorrow received practically each honour obtainable in Bulgaria and was later translated into English. Ushev cracked it open when he received again dwelling to Montreal that yr, devouring it in a single sitting. 

“Somehow this book touched me,” he stated. “I read it in one night and in the morning, I had the film in my head.” 

One of the small print he envisioned required developing with a brand new type of animation based mostly on the centuries-old strategy of encaustic portray, which refers to portray with beeswax that’s been warmed and tinted. After a lot trial and error, Ushev was ready to make it look thick and painterly, and seize an efficient impression of motion. 

“The first scenes were a complete disaster,” he recollects, noting that his father, an artist, discovered a recipe for the beeswax combine in an previous ebook. “I had no one to ask so I had to invent the technique. Eventually things came together and I got more skilled, and at the end I was doing six seconds a day, which is pretty good in animation.” 

Ushev additionally added parts from his life and people of his mates to the story, however he’s fast to level out that it’s not autobiographical. One scene, nevertheless, proved to be eerily prescient. 

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“The most difficult part of the script was when I wrote about my mother calling me to tell me my father is sick in Montreal,” Ushev stated. “It was fiction. I was imagining that one day it’s going to happen. But at the end of the film, all the things happened for real. My father died Dec. 7 last year. It was like I was predicting the future. Very scary.” 

Ushev’s father was an influential pressure in his life who taught him to observe his intestine when it comes to creating artwork. “He was a very strong character who was fighting to do his art and not be a conformist,” he stated. “He taught me that I have to do what I have to do, and not to sell myself for money or glory. His biggest influence was to be a strong character, which is very important in the world of indie animation.” 

Another father-son connection could be heard within the movie’s narration. The deep, sonorous voice belongs to Rossif Sutherland, who additionally satisfied his legendary father, actor Donald Sutherland, to take part, too. Then the elder Sutherland paid what Ushev considers the movie’s biggest praise — the artwork reminded him of the work of the Group of Seven’s Tom Thomson.  

In all, it took seven years from begin to end to make Sorrow, though Ushev was engaged on different tasks alongside the best way, together with his earlier movie, Blind Vaysha, which was nominated for an Academy Award for greatest animated brief in 2017. 

At 27 minutes, The Physics of Sorrow is Ushev’s most formidable of the 19 movies he’s made, and the Oscar buzz is already constructing. After its world premiere on the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this month, critics have been hailing it as a masterpiece, his magnum opus. 

Ushev is thrilled to be presenting it on the Ottawa International Animation Festival this weekend, partly as a result of he considers Ottawa to be his “gateway” to Canada. He visited the nation’s capital thrice within the mid-90s because the winner of a worldwide design contest hosted by the Ottawa software program firm, Corel. He received the competition three years in a row, incomes a free journey every time. But by the point his software for everlasting residency got here by way of, Corel was in monetary hassle, and Ushev went to Montreal as an alternative to discover work. 

“Ottawa was very important for me,” Ushev says. “That’s how I found my way to Canada.” 

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