Swiss animator and director Raphaëlle Stolz (“Le Salsifis du Bengale”) has presented her new short film “Miracasas” in Annecy, where it competes with 37 other animated shorts to be part of the Official Selection.
Stolz uses a fluid and impressionistic animation style to tell the story of Ernesto, a near-dead soldier who is carried to his final destination deep in the Brazilian jungle, where villagers hope his death will usher in new life. The film is a Franco-Swiss co-production between Nadasy Film, a well-known Swiss animation studio, Komadoli Studio and the Swiss public broadcaster RTS Radio Télévision Suisse.
Proudly displaying a gift for collaboration (her short film, Le Salsifis du Bengale was an adaptation of a Robert Desnos poem), she interprets and transforms the story of Augusto Zanovello with her unique style, with broad brushstrokes, shrewd humor and a nod to the classic Animation. In a story that challenges the foundations of religion and glares at the question of mortality, Stolz’s artwork is both a romantic respite and a revelation of light.
diversity spoke with pride ahead of the film’s debut in Annecy.
What is the inspiration for the Miracasas story?
The story was well advanced by Augusto Zanovello when I started working on it and then changed as the animations progressed. The film is about reincarnation, and spirituality is something that has always been with me but has become more present to me over the past few years while working on Miracasas.
There was something therapeutic about the film because it talks about transgeneration. The stories of ghosts, wandering spirits, suffering souls, which for me could be the mirror of stories that do not belong to us but accompany us, take on a new meaning. This has always been a question for me, and the idea of proposing a vision of what might be a final way into the afterlife, towards liberation, struck me as interesting.
In “Miracasas” I take you to South America, to Brazil to be precise. There is of course this fondness for travelling, for depicting universes, landscapes and cultures, which fascinates me. “Le Salsifis du Bengale” was a critique of tyranny, and “Miracasas” is a critique of certain religious aspects, of certain societal functions that lead to unnecessary deaths, while proposing a vision of what may be a way into the afterlife could.
“Miracasas” impresses with lively and imaginative animations. Can you describe the animation method and how did you come up with this style?
For the method I created all the line scenery on paper and then the color scenery in Photoshop. The animation poses were partially done on paper and then redrawn on TVpaint. All animation was created in TVpaint, a software that allows 2D rendering. Everything is drawn. The color of the animation was also created on TVpaint in several layers of paint. Then the compositing allowed us to add paper textures that are repeated in the animation and in the scenery, giving us a “paper with grain” feel, which was very important to me.
The graphic universe of “Miracasas” was developed over five months, but it is the result of a visual evolution that stretches from my early years at the Emile Cohl school to the Gobelins school. There is an entire work on the caricatured characters that has come out of my last 10 years of research. For the shapes, I like to see characters that respond to each other graphically and function like a “village” unit. The aesthetic of the film is close to my earlier film “Le Salsifis du Bengale”. We find there the loose, lively and very detailed line that we had in that first film. But I pushed the color work very far in Miracasas. In parallel to my work as a director, I make large format oil paintings and this helps me progress in my use of colour. My sources of inspiration are diverse and range from painting with all the works of Les Nabis to the universe of comic strips such as Jorge Gonzalez, Brecht Evens, Manuele Fior and illustration; with Solotareff, short and long animated films, such as “The Belleville Triplets”.
Ernesto’s journey in “Miracasas” manages to cover heavy subjects like death, love and sacrifice in a short time. Was that a challenge? And what do these themes say about tradition?
Yes, it was a challenge because the film is very dense and shouldn’t be indigestible. But death can be happy. I want our customs to make us celebrate departure. I want people to dance on my grave! I want life, so fleeting, so fast, to be celebrated at the time of departure and for people to have fond memories even when they leave. Because the pain is so great… The body struggles with these exits, whether real, tangible, physical, or emotional. The seemingly positive film is a bit cynical, and that’s the mix I wanted to portray. Death is not so happy in the film. It’s for the villagers because a new soul is brought to them… but it’s not an easy path for Ernesto.
https://variety.com/2022/film/global/swiss-animated-short-miracasas-raphaelle-stolz-1235297803/ Raphaelle Stolz’s Miracasas competition Annecy Festival