It doesn’t matter if it’s an animation or not


It doesn’t matter if it’s an animation or not

Serge Avedikian

French-Armenian actor, writer and filmmaker Serge Avedikian has won the Palme D’Or award of the Cannes film festival in shorts competition for his animation film “Barking Island” about the events that took place in Turkey in 1915. ReAnimania festival’s head Vrej Kassouny talked to him about “Barking Island” and animation in general.

Interview : Vrej Kassouny



What makes you turn to animation from time to time? It must be quite different experience from live action?

It’s simply the shape and the theme of the discussed plots, you should be able to find ways to tell difficult stories. Next, the style of the film naturally plays a big role in the act of choosing, and it doesn’t matter if it’s an animation or not.


Would you consider to make a movie, where we can see both, animated characters and live action actors next to each other?

In my next film “The last round in Istanbul”, a unique method will be used. That is, there will be induced characters, in other words – involved in the archives.

That is to say, the performance will hugely depend on the archive material that I’ll use and the natural pieces that will determine the performance. So it’s not a use of animation, but of an approach, which isn’t that far from animation.


Which one is more difficult, working with live actor or with animation character and animator?

I think it’s equally difficult to work with actors because there is a human factor, the management of the group, the set with the actors.

But in animation we spend more time on the work, which is more detailed, precise, even less instinctive, I would say, less intuitive than with actors on a set.


Why stop-motion animation? Have you ever thought about making an animated film in other technique?

I didn’t use that technique very often for animation films, since I’ve been making way more traditional animation. That is to say, I was more involved in minimalistic animation, trying to respect the unique type of the painting. That is more important for me – the visualization, the visual imagination, of course, sometimes with far more difficult movements.


What was your first reaction when you did hear about Wes’s Isle of Dogs?

I knew immediately, that the original idea for Wes’s film was the same as in the “Exile of the city dogs to a desert island”. That’s it. I wanted to see that film. And then I just saw the critical comments on my behalf, and also I heard on the radio, as if I did a comparing. It was them who had compared and pointed out the link between the two movies. At that point I hadn’t done anything yet. I hadn’t seen the film back then. When I watched the film, I saw that the original idea was the same, but Wes’s film referred to something completely different. It is a feature film, a weave of imagination, a happening in Japan, a prediction. So for me, there wasn’t such a close and strong connection.


Did you contact him?

Yes, I immediately contacted him. I found his email address, and asked him whether he had watched my film. He answered that he hadn’t. And so I sent him the film.


Did you two had any conflict on that? Did that cause any kind of disagreement between you two?

No we didn’t have any kind of conflict, for we both understood very well, that this wasn’t a plagiarism or whatever it’s called. And that artists are completely free to be inspired by the same plots and tell those plots in different ways. And I even find it very good, because it allows some individuals to think about the exile of the dogs in a different way.

There was no misunderstanding. We were in contact, Wes and I, we had long conversations. But there was not any kind of misunderstanding. I’d like to repeat once again, that we the artists need to be free, to be inspired by the ideas that live in us. And we can treat them anyway we like.


Do you have any ideas for future animated projects?

At the moment, I have no script for an animated film, but in any case if I were to make an animated film, it’d be a short and not a feature one, because the plots I choose are very dense. That is why I make animations. Currently, I’ve got 2 films, not with a classical approach, but rather with actors, with a performance based on archived images as I’ve already said. And the next film I’ve finished recently is more classic, different from animation approaches.