Monthly Archives: August 2019

Loving Vincent: A cold-case murder investigation, one frame at a time

There are almost 65,000 frames in the feature film Loving Vincent, each one of them painted by hand in oils.
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Animation is always an arduous process, but “ours was the slowest form of animation ever invented”, says Hugh Welchman, co-director and co-writer of the film. “Everything you see in the film is a photograph of a painting – we weren’t using different layers [as happens in most animation], it was very purist.”

Welchman, an Englishman who won the Oscar for best animated short in 2008 for Peter & the Wolf, spent six years working on this tale about the last days of Vincent van Gogh. His co-writer and co-director Dorota Kobiela, who is Polish, spent even longer on it.

“She spent seven years on it,” says Welchman of his wife. “She’d already got the grant to do this as a short film, but in Poland you have to wait three or six months until the money comes into your account. So in the interim she applied for a job at my company, and I disrupted her plans.

“We fell in love, I got her to work on my film [Peter & the Wolf] and while we were doing that we talked about Loving Vincent and visited lots of galleries. And as we were doing the research I realised how huge his following is around the world, and so we decided to make it as a feature film.”

There are two distinct visual styles in the movie: van Gogh’s trademark heavy brushstrokes, thick textures and bold colours; and a black-and-white realist style informed by 19th-century photography. In both, some of the characters seem vaguely, and sometimes instantly, recognisable – their scenes were played by actors including Chris O’Dowd, Aidan Turner and his Poldark co-star Eleanor Tomlinson, and Saoirse Ronan.

Their performances were captured on film, and that footage was used as a reference point for the painters to render them in either van Gogh or photo style.

“The painter would have a monitor at eye level, then they’d have a canvas underneath, and they’d just paint what they could see, but they’d have to reimagine it into van Gogh style,” explains Welchman. “Once they’d done the first frame, they were using that for reference. They’d reimagined it, so they had to stick with that, and they had to not only reference their own frames, but what others had done in the same scene or with the same character.”

Such a labour-intensive process necessarily demands a lot of labourers. Luckily, in Poland Welchman and Kobiela knew there was a suitably skilled (and relatively cheap) workforce, because of the country’s strong tradition in art training. From 1000 applicants, they picked 65 painters. But putting together the finance for the project was almost as arduous as making the thing, so they were only able to hire about 20 at the outset.

By the time the funding came together, they were massively behind schedule and they felt they’d exhausted the talent pool in Poland – given the pay, about $1000 a month, it’s likely many had moved on to more lucrative offers – so they put the message out internationally. They couldn’t believe the response.

“We had this teaser on our website, and a fan of one of the actors put it on Facebook and within 24 hours we had 2 million views and within three months we had 200 million views. As a result of that we closed the finance, and we got 4000 new applications from painters around the world.”

They hired another 60 painters – from , Japan, North America, South America, India – and it gave the production the boost it needed. “A lot of our painters had been working on it for a year and a half and were pretty exhausted, and then all these painters descended from all over the world and were terribly excited,” says Welchman. “They were only there for six months, so they managed to maintain their enthusiasm to the end.”

Andrew Grimmer was the sole n who worked on the project, contributing about 12 seconds of footage (at 12 frames a second, that’s about 140 paintings), mostly of an exchange between the central character Armand Roulin (Douglas Booth), who investigates Vincent’s death, and Dr Mazery (Bill Thomas), who has a controversial theory about it.

“I made three or four frames a day, six days a week for over five months,” says Grimmer, a skilled portraitist from the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria. “It doesn’t equate to much of the movie, but I’m happy with the quality I achieved while having to paint at such speed.”

Grimmer heard about the project when a friend sent him a link, with the words “this could change your life”. He applied, heard nothing for three months, then one day opened an email. “You’ve been chosen to test in Poland, we will Skype tomorrow.”

Three days later, the production got in touch and offered him a spot. He’d need to be in Gdansk, joining a team of 65 painters in a studio, in two weeks. “I had no passport, no money, and my partner and two-year-old child were in ,” he says. “But I agreed.”

It was hard work, Grimmer says, but “the comradeship was beautiful and I made life-long friends. There were 15 or more of us living together in a hostel and we grew very close.” He would do it again in a heartbeat.

Despite the challenges, Welchman would too. In fact, he and Kobiela are already plotting a new movie in a similar style.

“We’re going to do a painted horror filming, based on the late paintings of Goya,” he says. “You’ve got to set yourself a new challenge in life.”

Loving Vincent is in cinemas now.

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City star praises Victory striker ahead of Melbourne derby

W-League star and Matilda Kyah Simon has earned plenty of plaudits for her goals over the seasons.
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But the Melbourne City forward is full of admiration for her opposite number at Melbourne Victory, Natasha Dowie, who will be doing her utmost to ensure Victory continue City’s miserable start to the season when the pair clash in the first Melbourne derby of the new W-League season this Friday night.

Dowie, an England international, and Simon are former teammates and the n star knows just how dangerous the big Victory forward and captain can be.

“She’s a great player, a great striker and a great leader within the group. They have definitely recruited well and are continually getting better,” Simon said of her Victory opponents.

“Tasha is a quality player. I played with her in Boston [in North America’s NWSL].

“One of her great traits is no matter how bad the team is playing around her, she’s always upholding herself in such a high manner and is able to score goals when the run of play is going against her.

“I have played with and against her, and she is a quality striker, she can score goals at any time.

“If the team gets better around her then there’s no doubt that with any player they are going to excel in the environment that they are in as well.”

City crashed to a 4-1 defeat in the opening round, a grand final rematch with Perth Glory.

But there were extenuating circumstances.

First-choice goalkeeper Lydia Williams was unavailable – she will be back between the posts on Friday night, Simon said on Tuesday – and reserve goalkeeper Emily Shields broke a hand in the warm-up, meaning 18-year-old Emily Kenshole was pressed into action at short notice.

Simon equalised after Perth took the lead, but City conceded three goals in the last 15 minutes. But the Matildas stalwart saw enough in the performance to give her confidence for the rest of the campaign.

“We outpossessed them in a lot of the game. We took a lot of positives away, I think we played some quality football in the game,” she said.

“They had five chances and finished four of them, we had about 20 chances and only finished one.

“I was happy and feeling pleased with how my body felt. I can only take the positives having had two major surgeries and coming back and doing what I love again, that’s being out there with the girls and playing football. I am hoping each week that goes by match fitness will get better.

Council rejects Christian Lobby’s LGBT grants objections

As the national marriage equality postal survey entered its final week, a leading organisation behind the “no” campaign zeroed in on a Sydney council’s annual grants program, urging councillors to reject the funding of LGBT programs.
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But the bid by the n Christian Lobby proved unsuccessful on Tuesday night, as a majority block of the Inner West Council voted to approve more than $67,000 in funding for 13 LGBT programs for the upcoming year.

“We are giving out several hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to a wide range of organisations, some of which are LGBT organisations. So what?” mayor Darcy Byrne said.

The Inner West Council, which includes within its boundaries the gay-friendly suburb of Newtown, has been vocal in its support for marriage equality.

The Christian Lobby’s NSW director Kieren Jackson wrote to each of the 15 councillors on Monday, asking them to re-evaluate the use of ratepayer funds towards LGBT organisations in favour of prioritising “the most vulnerable in society, the sick and those with disabilities”.

The lobby group drew a link between the grants program and the postal survey, suggesting the council’s judgment had been compromised by its support for marriage equality.

“The question that needs to be asked is whether the Inner West Council’s energetic support of the ‘Yes’ campaign in the current postal survey is colouring the council’s judgment when it comes to being responsible with ratepayers’ money,” Mr Jackson said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Inner West Council has promoted a public position in favour of marriage equality – a position supported by a majority block of the councillors, who were elected in September.

As one of its first acts, the new council voted to allow same-sex couples free access to community facilities and halls for wedding ceremonies for 100 days if same-sex marriage is legalised following the postal survey.

The LGBT programs funded on Tuesday night accounted for 10 per cent of the total funding package of $742,847, which was shared between 127 community projects as varied as domestic violence support groups and music therapy programs for deaf children.

The programs were recommended for funding approval by assessment panels for each of the council’s six grant programs.

Mr Jackson took aim at the funding of $6500 towards a breast cancer awareness picnic hosted by ACON, an HIV prevention organisation, ahead of an unsuccessful $14,000 funding request from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

A council spokesman said the hospital’s grant application did not meet the eligibility criteria, which “clearly state that state or federal government departments or projects which fall under the responsibility of another tier of government are not eligible”.

“These are local grants, not designed to subsidise the state government’s public hospital system to purchase medical equipment.”

ACON chief executive Nicolas Parkhill said funding for the picnic was important because lesbian women experienced “higher risk factors relating to the development of breast cancer, and are an underscreened population for this type of cancer compared to heterosexual women”.

Other LGBT programs that received grants included $19,000 for a “Rainbow Tapestry project”, which aimed to reduce social isolation through weekly events, $7500 for a “Queer Formal” for high school students, and $4500 for an art exhibition by Aboriginal artists from the LGBT community.

Independent councillor Pauline Lockie rejected the Christian Lobby’s claim that the council was funding LGBT projects ahead of those for vulnerable people as “a misleading, dog-whistling political smear”.

“LGBTQI people are more likely to experience abuse, violence, discrimination, prejudice, and social and mental health issues than their heterosexual counterparts,” she said.

The council’s grants program did not receive unanimous support from the elected representatives.

Deputy mayor Julie Passas, a Liberal councillor, told Fairfax Media she could not “justify one certain group of people being singled out when there are more needy issues to be addressed”.

“I cannot see that gays are being treated badly,” she said.

“As far as I’m concerned, gay people aren’t different from me. I don’t believe the gays need help. What is the pressing need? A picnic, I don’t think, is pressing.”

Following a heated debate, the grants program was approved by a majority of 11 councillors, while the two Liberal councillors, Cr Passas and Vittoria Raciti, and independent Victor Macri voted against it.

This That Festival throwback: Scenes from the festival 2015 – 2017

THROWBACK THURSDAY: This That Festival through the years INSTA @melissa_webster Yesterday was just 👌🏼✨ #thisthat
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This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

Photo @pennyp10 THIS THAT FAM

This That music festival, Newcastle Foreshore. Picture: Marina Neil

samara.n.b This and that 🎶🍺 #thisthat #newcastle #festival

This That Festival today. Newcastle what’s good? – photo by @themarcaida

Photo by @lauradurnin ‘Dis dat’ #thisthat

Photo @thisxxthat triple j Unearthed winners and local heart-throbs RAAVE TAPES are ready. #thisxxthat @raave_tapes

@thisxxthat #thisxxthat

Photo by @lilywhitton_ Ready to get downnnn ✨✨ #thisthat

@duncanshumack That or this, you know the rules

@tegan_briana This that

Photo by @becbailey__ Bit of this bit of that #thisthat

@lee.britton On our worst behaviour 😈 #ThisThat

@raave_tapes LOOK WE HAVE LANYARDS It’s a wonderful day to GET UP IT

Photo @__bec bunch of loons 😎 #thisthat

Photo @janismegan ‘When the drinks are flowing’ #Newcastle #thisthat #pres

@shayahnvanbeveren A little bit of THIS, a little bit of THAT!

kaypring_ 🍻 #thisthat #worstbehavior

@_teganscott #thisthat #Newcastle

INSTA @rhianna_tobin Talented 🙂 #thisthat

INSTA @georgieee_xx Between this that and bitter and twisted i was not feeling the 5am alram this morning, couldnt have asked for a better weekend or company 💓 #thisthat #bitterandtwisted

INSTA @rachaaelrussell My number 1 gal.💕 @britthoward_ #thisthat#favgal

INSTA @hayley.eve Smiles don’t get much bigger 😆 #thisthat #iamthelizardqueen

INSTA @beaucharlton @chadashton 🌞🍺💃 #thisthat

INSTA @jessicalindgrenxx Best day with the best people ☀️🎶❤️ #thisthat

INSTA @katemackawaymua Face paint stall at This That Festival

INSTA @sus393 Bit of this and a bit of that 👅💟💋 @demimcdonald_ #thisthat #loveyou #thisgirltho

INSTA @kiramccaig We sure knew how to boogie ✌🏻️ #thisthat

INSTA @isabel_navarr0 Keeping it old school Overalls and all 😍👯 #thisthat

INSTA @rhianna_tobin Talented 🙂 #thisthat

INSTA @kate_broekman When you find Bae at #thisthat 😍 #surprises #fave

INSTA @jackekert This that certainly done a number on me but I’d happily do it all over tomorrow 👌 #thisthat

INSTA @lokchapman Yeah the Boys #thisthat @mitchcrow89 @jamesgregreed

INSTA @haary_w Love this little mermaid! @elenasavovski #thisthat2016 #thisthat

INSTA @alexandrasmith_ Pretty much went downhill after this for me 🍻💃 #thisthat

INSTA @jimgardiner_83 THIS THAT spam 😈 . Don’t get out much but days like this I’m all for !!! #sickday #catchups #needmoreof #picoftheday #loose #thisthat

INSTA @lachlan.andrews19 #ThisThat #Newcastle #Festival #GoodMates

INSTA @reace_louise Gotta love my Rox 💕 #lastoneIswear #soz #thisthat

INSTA @kaylavictoria26 Would definitely dress hippie for any festival… being a different person for the day is the most fun experience!! ✌🏼️👸🏼💃 #hippie #thisthat #amazing #curlyhair

INSTA @chriss.iee Just hangin’ out #thisthat #thisthatspam #sorrynotsorry #pumpthosebeats @emilyhegney

INSTA @lokchapman This That 2016 🎉 🍻 🎤 #thisthat @justineefranklin

INSTA @lucie__94 #thisthat 🎉

INSTA @elenasavovski 🌟✨🌙🌜so much love in the air ☁️☁️☁️ #THISTHAT

INSTA @ghazi.bafakieh When the bass drops we drop our problems with it … and our dignity #buckethat #thisthat

INSTA @zoe_leem Monday why do you have to come around so quick!? Take me back to Saturday 🌞🌿 . . . #thisthat #newcastle #triplej #monday #mondayblues #sunnydays #spring

INSTA @casey_r94 Good tunes at This That 💃🏼🎶🎙🎸🕶☀️ #thisthat #newcastle #boogietime #weekendvibes

INSTA @teeemmusic The vibes were perfect #thisthat #newcastlelive #musicfestival

INSTA @tysonpotts #thisthat #squadontour #5thwheeling 🔥😎

INSTA @taylahgaul #thisthat @ash.marinovic 💕

INSTA @kirstiebegbie Tamara in her prime 🌭#thisthat #happy21stbirthday ❤️

INSTA @patarmstrong Solid day with this one #thisthat

INSTA @tyler_bridges14 This That giving the goods 👌🔥 #thisthat #newy #flowercrown #sunburn

INSTA @matt_parsell Twas a good day #ballparkmusic #thisthat

INSTA @caramellokellow #thisthat

INSTA @teddyscott_ Loved listening to them sweet tunes almost as much as I love youuuu #tuneeeee #thisthat 👯🌺🍹

INSTA @tiahneeeaston_ Chixxxxx 💃🏼💁🏼💖 #squad #friends #girls #galpals #chicks #thisthat2016 #thisthat #thisxthat #love #drinkdrankdrunk #chicksareon #yeahthegirls

INSTA @meli__07_ THIS THAT 🎶 #festival #thisthat #love #tigheshillfamily #myloves #newcastle#nobbysbeach #australia

INSTA @maximus13333 Another fessi down ! #thisthat #2016 #topday #newcastle

INSTA @katiecchandler When @hamishlorang just wants a photo with his sandwich but I sneak in too 💁🏻 #prioritiesinorder #couplegoals #thisthat

INSTA @link_callo 🌶Such a lewse day at #thisthat I managed to #bunningssnag a photo of Childish Gambino on Dizzee Rascal’s shoulders! #ytb

INSTA @b_elllle ⬅️this ⬆️ that 👯✨#thisthatfestival #thisthat #newcastle #newcastleforeshore

INSTA @braddboyle A few guys who hate to festival. Absolute despair and depression written all over our faces. #thisthat

INSTA @caitlin_marsh Before I lost every single person I knew✨ #ThisThat

INSTA @laurengrieve Great weekend with great people 🌞😘 #thisthat #vanlife

INSTA @alexandramareeross thanks for being the best chix alive @jessshanley @trudylee96 💕 #bestfriends #thisthat

INSTA @foyboy777 This that yesterday was lit with these legends #thisthat #glitter #pimms

INSTA @immypreston Sparkles and flares ✨✨ #thisthat

INSTA @lilymaytownsend_x Daym she’s delicious @laakyn 🔥💦 #thisthat #newcastle #thisthatbullshit #rig

INSTA @breekorteman Weekend in Newcastle went too fast! #thisthat #newcastlensw ☀️☺️

INSTA @kylesabroe Almost as blurry as my memory 👻 #thisthat

INSTA @lucie__94 #thisthat 🎉

INSTA @emilycrearmua A bit of this, a bit of that and some makeup crap… -This That makeup crew- #festivalmakeup #theotherempire #themaskacademynewcastle #makeup #braids #festival #festivalfashion #makeupartist #squad

INSTA @casey_r94 Good tunes at This That 💃🏼🎶🎙🎸🕶☀️ #thisthat #newcastle #boogietime #weekendvibes

INSTA @teeemmusic The vibes were perfect #thisthat #newcastlelive #musicfestival

[email protected] playing ping pong earlier before his set #ThisThatpic.twitter成都夜总会招聘/93QOCFHJj4

— DJ Smitty (@DJSmittyAus) November 5, 2016

Electronic acts Peking Duk and Hermitude were popular headliners, and sent revellers home happy and, in many cases, exhausted.

Los Angeles hip hop star ScHoolboy Q had performed on the main stage after dusk – with Fort Scratchley as a backdrop – to a jumping, vocal crowd.

Earlier, the rapper had joined festival-goers playing table tennis in the VIP marquee, flanked by a giant security detail.

Fans had also packed in for well-received sets by Perth rapper Drapht, laconic Brisbane indie rockers Ball Park Music and Canberra electro-pop act Safia.

Spierig brothers’ take on horror franchise cuts familiar terrain

Jigsaw film poster 2017.
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FILM JIGSAW ?????? (MA) General release (92 minutes)

Ah, memories. The first Saw film became a surprise hit in 2004, when torture was what we’ve since learned to call a trending topic – especially after scandals broke involving the treatment of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay.

Thirteen years and seven sequels on, it can’t be said the theme has lost its resonance. But this latest instalment in the 21st century’s most successful horror franchise adds little to what has come before.

Saw was originally cooked up by a couple of ns, director James Wan and writer Leigh Whannell. But they’ve taken a back seat on the sequels, this time handing directing duties to another n duo, brothers Peter and Michael Spierig, who showed some flair for the outlandish in their 2014 science-fiction thriller Predestination.

As in every Saw film, we’re introduced to a group of semi-anonymous victims, to be guided through various sadistic “games” by the evil mastermind Jigsaw (Tobin Bell), who died several instalments ago but hasn’t let this slow him down.

Meanwhile, a team of detectives launch an investigation, pausing regularly to explain Jigsaw’s backstory for the benefit of newcomers. Typically for the series, this double plot is a kind of trap, but aficionados will be able to guess quickly how it functions – in essence if not in detail.

With dingy lighting, relatively few locations and no big names in the cast, Jigsaw,like its predecessors, is essentially a modern B-movie. This allows it a disreputable edge that nowadays is usually missing from mainstream horror; nobody is especially sympathetic, anyone could die at any moment and the moral lessons taught by the villain are transparent excuses for sadism.

As ever, the main attraction is the spectacle of Jigsaw’s victims caught in his gruesome homemade traps. There are whirring blades, syringes filled with acid, sharp objects that fall from above – and there’s the horror of being forced to choose between willed self-mutilation and something even worse.

Though the Spierigs don’t hold back when it comes to gore, they seem less than fully invested in the challenge of thinking up new, ingenious ways to hurt people. Still, the nasty set-pieces are visualised vividly enough to trigger the mixed reactions that have been the point of the series: fear and revulsion as we imagine ourselves trapped in this manner, followed by a flood of relief that it’s happening to someone else.