There Once Was A Man Called Pjotr Sapegin
(continued from page 6)

Currently Sapegin is working on a variety of projects including an interpretation of Hamlet and Bernard Bityourtongue. "It's a book which was written by a very famous crime novelist and me. It's a crime story with two murders, for children. So this book is going to be an animation film, and it's half live-action. It's a story which happens in a puppet theatre and the marionettes have a life of their own and one of them is a killer, basically." Sapegin has also approached Canada's National Film Board about co-producing a top secret project involving Puccini.

Despite a prosperous 1997, where Sapegin made four commercials for the National Lottery and four for a radio station, recent financial frustrations forced him to re-consider his artistic direction. "I thought, 'Okay, let's just give up and make a straightforward animation silly for children.'" But poor Pjotr still couldn't get it right. "We made the film and sent it to some Danish consultants and they said, 'What kind of film is this? It's no action and the main character is a well behaved girl.'" Nevertheless, Snails, recently won a top prize at the Montreal Children's Film Festival.

Winner of a top prize at the Montreal Children's Film Festival, Snails.

Given Sapegin's highly stylized backgrounds, it would seem natural that he look the other way and perhaps try more abstract non-narrative animations. However, Pjotr has a very good theory on this. "I absolutely refuse to accept the definition of art on these two sections, figurative and non-figurative, because abstract art is one of the components in figurative art. It's a part of figurative art and by working in abstract media you are cheating yourself in a way because you will end up with a story which is maybe not on the screen but you hear it in back of your head. So, if you develop abstract things up to a certain point, it will start to become figurative. That is what I am doing, always using abstract things in a composition in storytelling. It's kind of hidden inside in the paintings, in the figurative paintings."

For now this life in progress carries on beyond these pages and our slanted tale of one life must come to an end. Young Pjotr is now older Pjotr. He has grown far from the acrobats, karate experts, snowmen and marble landscapes of his youth. His new Nordic life is one of rats, cats, salt and seas. Financial insecurities aside, Pjotr is happy, busy and Norwegian. "I am a Norwegian filmmaker, and I am planted absolutely, thoroughly. I just don't wanna go back to Russia; it's a really hectic place."

Chris Robinson is the artistic director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival and founder and director of SAFO, the Ottawa International Student Animation Festival. He is a board member of ASIFA International and editor of the ASIFA magazine, ASIFA News. Robinson has curated film programs and served on festival juries throughout the world. He writes a monthly column ("The Animation Pimp") for Animation World Network and has written numerous articles on animation. His iconoclastic tendencies have led him to be called the "John Woo of diplomacy" and most recently, "the enfant terrible of animation" by Take One magazine. He is currently working on a documentary with Otto Alder on Estonian animation; a biography of writer, Richard Meltzer; and a book on animation entitled, Unsung Heroes of Animation. Apparently he's a Canadian.


1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7