The amazing Ottawa Animation festival is over. And Nightingales in December won Canadian Film Institute award for best Canadian Animation. I’m extremely happy that I won with this small, personal, no-budget film, done as a Carte Blanche for the last 40th anniversary of the Festival of New Cinema in Montreal. This is my 4th film that wins this prestigious award in Ottawa – after The Man Who Waited 2006, Drux Flux 2008, Lipsett Diaries 2010, and now Nightingales… I guess I have to stop making films, cause otherwise Steven Harper may evoke my citizenship, or will ban me from visiting Ottawa…
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Just a glimpse of Joda reactions. I don’t give a shit neither for the positive, neither for the negative ones…
And of course I will start with the most negative one, as I love negative critics:
“Ushev admitted right off the bat that he wasn’t sure if this was a film or a political statement. It’s a political statement. This animated short feels more like a political ad to run on television than a short film to run in this programme. Visually, it’s abstract, but conceptually, it’s a shotgun to the face. It’s brief and relatively to the point, the noisy soundscape of public unrest and murky brown visuals made out of Persian iconography are relieved by cuts to single, digestible words followed by a to-the-point call to action at the end. There isn’t anything to ponder here. It’s an angry artist who is contributing to a battle happening in his home country of Iran. You can appreciate that and his strong virtues, but it’s no film. C-”
Peter Strauss “Ate bit”
“Very clearly wearing its political motivations on its sleeves Theodore Ushev‘s plea for the release of imprisoned Iranian filmmakers is a stunning work of art. Joda [Apart] utilizes rotoscoping techniques with Farsi text used to compose its imagery. Whether the savage brutality of the Green Wave protests or the art of Jafar Panahi and his films, the chalk-like animation on its coarsely textured background is broken only by words like “Hope”, “Torn”, and “Anguish”.
Admittedly, I am not well versed in everything happening with Panahi or the other oppressed Iranian moviemakers. But this ignorance doesn’t mean the impact of such a personal call for liberation is lost. Through the poetic words of Maral Mohammadian, Ushev’s rough depiction of atrocities past, and the delicate hand crafting Panahi’s The White Balloon as a sign for hope, one understands the tone and appreciates the sentiments.
Shed of its meaning and looked upon as simply a piece of visual art, one can’t deny its figurative use of language or the beauty of its form. Juxtaposing the harsh silhouettes of violence with the soft detail of a nation’s will to survive for freedom, we see how the emotional worth of art will always be stronger than the physical pain of abuse. Iran wouldn’t be silencing their political detractors if they didn’t believe this to be true.”
Jared Mobarak “The Film Stage”
“Concept: Poetic and political, Theodore Ushev’s latest animated work cultivates his incredible talent to call for the liberation of imprisoned Iranian filmmakers and to focus attention on the plight of Jafar Panahi. Drawing inspiration from raw footage of the Green Wave uprising to compose densely layered rotoscoped images embedded with Farsi text, the result is a powerful piece of activism that is both personal and profound.
Our Thoughts: A very concise film that speaks directly to its audience and requests our action in not agreeing through apathy that wrongfully imprisoning filmmakers is acceptable. This short made me search out Jafar Panahi and get involved. Joda (Apart) combines raw footage that has been transformed into rotoscoped images is a love letter to those suffering behind bars and condemned to not speaking creatively freely. Well worth the viewing.”