films exude an innocence and a child-like joy. Her animation is among my favourite. When I need to find blessing, I return to Ruah's films
For the Solstice/Hanukkah/Christmas festive season, I present one of her Oah and Harlam Episodes: Of Stars and People
In Of Stars and People
, we find Oah falling through the skies downwards. Snow falls as Oah falls, turning in the sky. A male voice (Dylan Forman) narrates for Oah, and a female voice (Ruah herself) for Harlam. When Harlam appears, he seems to emerge from the landscape itself, and he is but a shadow over it. His eyes are deep, and compassionate. He turns, and we watch a white gull glide in the distance while the female narrator tells us Harlam 'was laughing.' Different levels of the landscape move differently in the animation. An outer sky seems to come with us as we draw back from the wide angle view of the scenic ocean with its mountains in the distance. 'Harlam was laughing at Oah. ' Then Oah is rising from a field of green with round white circles all about, rubbing herself off, having landed. Dandelion fluff billows a little like the snow we saw earlier. She is in a field of dandelions. 'But when a star falls, one must make a wish.' Oah blows a dandelion seed head, and "Made a wish for Harlam, instead.' The dandelion seeds fly out like little white trees, or snowflakes, or stars. 'Oah made a kind wish.' Both narrators speak the same words. Harlam is making a kind wish too. It is a giving message, and I love it.Yoon Lee's music
is perfect (he plays the guitar, kalimba and kayagum; with Molly McLaughlin on flute; and Kassandra Kocoshis on percussion), and if you browse Ruah's blog, you'll find more on his work, as well as a film, Summary,
that they collaborated on. (A photo of Yoon scoring the music for Of Stars and People.
Of Stars and People (2011)
from Ruah Edelstein
One more episode to the series! At first glance the stories about two weirdoes Oah and Harlam may appear as senseless. But when there is an overflow of senselessness, then appears deep philosophy.
These stories are not just shorts that I wrote, they are a worldview, answers to some questions of reality, grotesque simplicity of which seems to be surreal. In this project bits of life situations, thoughts, and actions are applied to animation, music, and a spoken word. There is a need to write fairytales for grownups, to write almost impossible stories, because when we seriously begin to talk about important and intimate things in life, most of us cannot take it.
Original music scored by Yoon Lee involves a rare use of instruments such as kalimba and kayagum (Korean zither).
Ruah's work has a deceptive simplicity, not only in the poetry, which is fairytale-like, but in the animation itself.
The figures have a transparency as they move over a background which appears through them. In her blog we learn
, "I used oil paints for all the layers in the background, which was very fun to work with, while seeing how the paints interconnect after being layered digitally on screen." Before she reaches the stage of digitalizing, there is the rush of ideas, and storyboarding.
To the right you will see images of her work flow for the film featured today (if you click on the image, you'll go to her blog post). In the first image, simple, raw sketches of ideas as they emerge from her imagination. She writes, "This is one of my most favourite stages, where visuals are coming out for the first time to being without any restrictions, a very intuitive and spontaneous process to allow all sorts of visualizing ideas to come up." She says, be "loose," "minimilist," while "touching only on the keys of the story." Then comes the storyboard, which she keeps nearby her working area "at all times," shows to "friends and colleagues," and "thinks about over and over." She follows it closely when making the film.
Already we are beginning to suspect a master at work here. Browsing Ruah Edelstein's website
, we find she is, indeed, an accomplished artist - in fact, the sale of her art enabled her to move from Europe to California where she is currently working on an MFA in animation at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Before being drawn to animation, she was an actress, and also directed. Originally from Lithuania, where she grew up while her country was still part of the USSR, her Bio
tells us, that, at age 10 she was accepted in to "a renowned School of Fine Arts in Klaipeda, her hometown at the coast of the Baltic sea." Most recently, she had an Oah and Harlam
film in the Chelyabinsk No-Festival of Video Art and Animation in 2010; Of Giants
, was selected for the Animex Awards in Feb 2011, held in the UK; and she presented Oah and Harlam
episodes in San Diego at a NOW conference for authors and critics of contemporary, innovative literature in Oct 2011. Expect to see this lady's work regularly on the festival circuits when she hits her stride. Her films, with their whimsical, fairytale-like stories and characters, and their deeper philosophies giving a profundity to her work, are outstanding.
This is my last article of 2011; FRIDAY VIDPOFILM will return January 6, 2012. Warmest season's greetings to everyone!