A film about the pioneering animator Vladislavas Starevičius is being made in Lithuania

2007 June 5 d.

Currently an art documentary film about the ‘Disney of Europe’, Vladislavas Starevičius, is being made in . The pioneer of Lithuanian cinema Starevičius became known in the world as an initiator of unique three-dimensional (puppet) animation and a magician who had surpassed his time. His methods of animation still remain a secret even to contemporary professionals of world class animation as well as the personality of the creator: cosmopolitan, mysterious and provoking.


At the beginning of the 20th century a Lithuanian filmmaker of Polish origin, who lived in Kaunas and later created in and , started his first unique experiments in three-dimensional animation in . Russians, Poles and French often claim ‘ownership’ to his work as a national cultural value. In his name is still unknown to many people.


Starevičius created a magical world of puppets in his films where animals, birds, insects and other creatures tell stories of humanity like real actors. They ‘performed’ so convincingly that the viewers of his first films had no doubt that Starevičius was training live insects. Filmmakers of the time nicknamed Starevičius the Alchemist of Cinema.


The film The Trainer of Insects will not be just a biographical or educational documentary about another prominent personality. This is an art animation which is being created by applying the principles of cinematic language. The makers of this film play with contents, form and style, like Starevičius himself played and experimented, in an attempt to grasp and perhaps even reveal secrets that he had encoded in his works. This is quite a challenge concerning such a personality who liked not only to improvise in his art, but also to mystify his personal biography.


In the film, the magic world of Starevičius is being (re)created by combining the methods of feature, documentary and animated films. This is a world in which reality is being transformed and merges with the Puppet’s world governed by its own rules and laws. A labyrinth embodies this magical world in the film, an intricate cobweb of rooms and corridors created from special decorations by using a large team of professional artists. 


The plot-line of the film is a Love story of the Insect-Puppet who is the main character in the film. The Insect travels around the mysterious labyrinth of Starevičius’s art and life looking for his lost Love-Queen Lioness (puppets from Starevičius’s film Fox Reineke). The Insect has to come to know and ‘decode’ the film master Starevičius in order to find and revive the Lioness. In his quest for the ‘code’ he meets various people, film experts and contemporary animators. These experts will help the Insect to ‘discover’ Starevičius by shedding some light on the most significant and interesting aspects of his life and work. They will also discus essential 20th century political-historical facts of Europe as well as the context of early cinema.


Among other experts famous creators of experimental animation, British twin brothers Stephen and Timothy Quay, an expert in the history of animation from Norway Gunnar Strom, a Polish art and film critic Marcin Gizycki and others will appear in the film.


Authentic archive footage of the period, photographs, documentation and excerpts from Starevičius’s films collected from national archives of , The Netherlands, , and will be included in the narrative structured in a non-chronological order. 


The film will document also the unveiling of a memorial plaque to Vladislavas Starevičius in Kaunas initiated by the filmmakers, which will take place on August 8 this year during the 125th anniversary since Starevičius’s birth. An LCD monitor called symbolically a memorial plaque will be integrated in the façade of the former Museum of History in Kaunas . It will be used to screen Starevičius’s films and excerpts from The Trainer of Insects.     


The filming takes place in in May – June this year, and in July it will move to one of the most renowned and oldest animation studios SE-MA-FOR in Lodz, , where puppet animation will be created especially for the film.


The film The Insect Trainer is an international project that took almost seven years to develop in which co-producers from (SE-MA-FOR) and (GERBRUEDER BEETZ FILMPRODUCTION) participate next to the main initiator and producer of the project, Filmų era, Ltd. Two directors are in charge of the film - Linas Augutis and Donatas Ulvydas – in collaboration with a Polish director of animated films Marek Skrobecki. The cinematographer is Ramūnas Greičius, designer – Jurga Gerdvilaitė, sound director – Saulius Urbanavičius; producer – Rasa Miškinytė.


The project has already attracted attention from potential broadcasters and film festival organisers. At the moment around fifteen television channels of various countries have bought the rights to broadcast the film.


The project is supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania, Culture and Sport Support Fund of the Republic of Lithuania, MEDIA PLUS TV Distribution, MEDIA PLUS Development, Polish Film Institute and UNESCO.