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Animators Unearthed - Michaela Pavlátová

Every Monday, Chris Robinson serves up Animators Unearthed, a brief introduction to prominent and not-so-prominent indie animators. Today's guest is the Czech animation legend, Michaela Pavlátová.

'Tram' by Michaela Pavlátová

Throughout her career, Oscar-nominated Czech animator Michaela Pavlátová has explored relationships -specifically how language, boredom and sex, death foul-up marriages. Pavlátová’s approach is blunt and occasionally ferocious. She is not interested in singular romantic definitions of marriage and love. For Pavlátová, the relations between men and women are infinitely complex emotional and physical processes of joy, repetition, anger, hostility, abuse, intimacy, and loneliness.

Pavlátová attributes her obsession with relationships to “my lack of fantasy. It is much easier for me to be inspired by watching what is going on around me, or what happens in my own life. I know how it tastes to betray as well as to be betrayed. To love and being loved as well as the opposite. Somehow, male/female relationships are still the most interesting theme for me. It embraces everything, can be funny, ridiculous, dramatic, exciting, anything, you can get a comedy as well as a tragedy.”

Repete (1995) is a perfect display of Pavlátová’s complex attitude towards relationships. She does not make things easy for her audience. There are no clear-cut answers. Pavlátová refuses to pander to polarized perspectives that pinpoint relationships as good or bad. Relationships can be profound, absurd, tedious and heartbreaking. 

This could be me (1996) offers some insight into Pavlátová’s life and influences. Pavlátová sprinkles the film with humour and bits of absurdity, showing us that as much as she is passionate about relationships and friends and family, she isn’t a person that takes life all that seriously. 

Carnival of Animals (2006) is one of Pavlátová’s most accomplished and joyous films. This isn’t a gushy romantic piece about nice men and women being in love and hugging each other. It’s an all out celebration of sex and desire in all its bizarre, ugly, awkward, frivolous and violent forms. Pavlátová takes us to places real, imagined and dreamed; a world that only animation could show us. 

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A well-known figure in the world of independent animation, writer, author & curator Chris Robinson is the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival.