Pierre Földes • Director of Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman

“Talking about mysterious things, which is already an open door to the supernatural”

– The director deciphers his animated feature film adapting Haruki Murakami, awarded at Annecy and in competition at the Arcs Film Festival

(© Maëva Benaiche/Les Arcs Film Festival)

Mention of the jury in Annecy and also screened in Toronto, Blind willows, sleeping woman [+lire aussi :
interview : Pierre Földes
fiche film
the first feature film by Pierre Foldes is an animation adaptation of several short stories by the famous Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. We met the filmmaker on the occasion of the 14th Les Arcs Film Festival where his film is presented in competition.

Cineuropa: Where did the idea come from to adapt Haruki Murakami’s unique literary style into an animated film and how did you go about writing the screenplay?
Pierre Foldes : I was doing live action and animated shorts, mixing techniques, and an agent asked me what I would like to do next. I told him: adapt Murakami into an animated feature film. We got in touch and Haruki Murakami offered me to adapt one or more of his short stories, those of my choice. I chose six, the ones that inspired me the most, but without really knowing what I was going to do with them. On the contrary, the more mysterious it was and the less I knew what I could do with it, the more it interested me because I felt it touched on something deeper, without knowing what. Rather than taking a simple story that goes from A to Z and that didn’t awaken anything in me, I therefore threw myself into the water. At first, I was thinking of several stories that would follow one another, then at the end of a long process of writing with such inspiring material, so well written and in such an innovative style that awakens creativity, I said to myself that as in Murakami, there are still a certain kind of characters, the same character could ultimately very well be in several stories. It’s just like looking at it from different sides.

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What about the mixture of the supernatural and the everyday?
What interested me was talking about mysterious things, which is already an open door to the supernatural. It is especially the gray areas that attract me, as in David Lynch’s films for example. The characters in my film are very ordinary human beings and everything seems fairly innocuous, but we all live with things left unsaid that take us here and there, and sometimes it’s interesting to look at them. a little closer, to open windows.

Which animation method did you choose?
I call it live animation. There is some live action filming with actors, but it’s not filming. This serves as a reference to unify, centralize a character. Otherwise 15 animators animate the same character and they interpret and the way an eyebrow moves for example will be different from one animator to another. Moreover, in 2D or 3D animation, there are practices of rounding, flexibility, acceleration which are different from real shooting where the movements are much sharper and that’s what I wanted. But the characters don’t look like the actors at all, they have a similar, but not identical, morphology, and each time there is a work of adaptation to the drawing. It is a work of transposition of movements and emotions. Everything you see of the actor, you recreate for the character.

What were your main directing intentions?
After writing the screenplay, I started making the storyboard, but more cinema than animation because I composed my frames with one drawing per shot. Then, during filming, we placed this storyboard in the viewfinder of the camera, in transparency, and we could place the actors and the furniture accordingly. It worked perfectly and in the end, the film is very close to the storyboard.

How did you work the colors?
I wanted to make a decor with a line, in black and white pencil, which gives all the luminosity values ​​of the scene, but also all the volumes. The colors are transparent on it, there is no color gradient at all. In animation, I like flat areas. There is also a limitation of the number of colors, I was even quite radical in this area. And when we had a very dark setting or character, I still wanted to keep the line, as we do in comics, which allows us to see the volumes when we are in 2D. Ditto for the transparency which is for me a means of letting the spectator penetrate into the image. This gives greater porosity to the image.

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We wish to thank the author of this write-up for this remarkable material

Pierre Földes • Director of Blind Willows, Sleeping Woman

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