Signe Baumane and Tricky Women

I had a merry two days in Vienna for the Tricky Women Film Festival, I havn’t been to many festivals recently so I was more than ready for a feast of animated films. I was also really pleased for the chance to see Waltraud, Birgit and the TW team, who are very splendid people. My trailer was showing before every screening and I was glad that the transfer to 35mm was good and Fonic’s sound was beautiful, everyone was very kind about it. Little Skipper was showing in the Specials programme and it seemed comfortable in the programme.

The star of the festival was Signe Baumane, there was a screening of her best work and she also won the Tricky Women award with her new film Birth, quite right too. Although the film is called Birth, it’s not so much about Birth as about the more sinister aspects of mother/child relationships, with a passing reference to the US elections. Signe’s also getting a lot of attention for her Teat Beat of Sex films, and as a result her old films are having a moment too. The Teat Beat of Sex films take the form of humourous stories about erotic encounters from a woman’s perspective. I don’t imagine that the work could be taken as offensive because the drawings are quite clean and bright. The writing and narration are very fresh and the tales seem to take one unexpected path after another, which is a part of their joy. Signe and her stories are quite joyful for the same reason.

I also saw a great many Danish films. There was a screening from the Animation Workshop, and a few of my favourites were also from Denmark, including Stick in the Mud by Roswitha Menzel, a story about Mrs X, who gets to the bottom of her depression but finds herself confronted with a clinging stick in the mud, the stick in the mud, though not polished in any way has left a curiously memorable impression! Acid by Pia Binder, in which an etching plate is built up and printed each time was an inventive idea and kind of worked for a depiction of a club night out. The NFB was very present at the festival, Shira Avni very deservedly won the audience award for her film Tying your own Shoes, a very beautiful film made with four artists who have Down Syndrome. Julie Roy, a producer in the French department was on the jury and she brought a programme called Intimacy & Individuality with her. It looked very good, but I didn’t arrive in time to see all the screenings that I’d like to have. I was also glad to meet Vessela Dantcheva from Bulgaria who made Anna Blume based around a very evocative recording of Kurt Schwitters reciting his poem by the same name, Agnieskzka Skolik who animates and paints very beautifully as we saw in her film Angel, Kristina Maria Hofmann and Nandita Kumar.

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