Here is a film that smells of autumn, its dead leaves that we collect as memories of a past summer past, its low and heavy skies, but also its beautiful sunny days to collect chestnuts and chocolate snacks …
We should not believe thatUncle Thomas, day accounting is a weather report. But this beautiful film by Regina Pessoa, winner of the Jury Prize and Best Original Music Award for a short film at the last Annecy Festival, is a melancholy and nostalgic tribute to her uncle, a whispered love cry to the spectator's ear.
The filmmaker gives her childhood memories in the company of this humble but strange man, attentive but tormented, who has counted for her in her artistic awakening.
A personal film, then, as knows how to realize Regina Pessoa. But perhaps the most moving of his filmography, even more sensitive thanTragic story with happy ending, Cristal 2006, in which the director spoke of her mother's mental illness through the destiny of a girl whose heart beats so much that it disturbs her neighbors.
Uncle Thomas is also a more ambitious film. A specialist in animated engraving, Regina Pessoa experimented here with drawing and shadow on the walls, but also with animation in volume.
Here is the film, which will also be screened Monday, October 21 at the Cinémathèque française, before an interview, canned in Annecy, Regina Pessoa and her husband Abi Feijó, producer of the film and "voice" of Uncle Thomas.
What is the genesis ofUncle Thomas ?
Regina Pessoa : I wanted to make a film about Uncle Thomas because I started drawing with him. He invented games with us, the children of the family. At four, I drew with him large drawings on the walls. I thought it was normal to do these things.
His psychological problems took all his energy. People were making fun of his obsessive personality. It made me sad that we do not see his qualities. For me, he was great! There is no need to do anything extraordinary to do good to others.
What man was he?
R. P. : As my mother, with schizophrenia, was a personality apart, he was not in the norm. A melancholy emanated from him. He was lonely, but he liked his independence.
He was consumed with a feeling of guilt. When the family business of architectural decorations of which he was accountant went down, he thought he was responsible for the decline. That's why he wrote down every penny he spent.
Was it an artist misunderstood?
R. P. : He dedicated his life to his notebooks, which were very beautiful. I liked very much their regularity, the repetition of motives. If he had been born in another context, he would surely have found his way in art, in sculpture or in writing.
How did you design your movie?
R.P .: Like an animated documentary, using the material kept from it. It was the original idea. But at first I was a little lost. A friend then advised me to write a letter to my uncle to fix what I meant. Some of this text has been used as voiceover.
I started to write independent scenes without knowing in which order I would arrange them. Andreas Hykade, a friend director with whom I worked, offered me a scenario structure.
How then to mix all the documents of my uncle: knives, notebooks, drawings, letters and books of accounts? I wanted there to be real objects, digital drawing, drawing animations and shadows on the wall. It was necessary to work on the textures of each plan to give homogeneity to the image.
I had a lot of fun mixing techniques, I hope to do it again on a future film.
How did you work on music and sound?
R.P .: The soundtrack was composed by Normand Roger, at the National Film Board, in Montreal (NB: a huge Canadian composer who has worked on the original music of many animated short film masterpieces, The man who planted trees, by Frédéric Back, or Father and daughter, by Michael Dudok de Wit). We know him well with my companion, Abi Feijó. We even share a house near Porto! He worked on a theme of Philip Glass, with his loops of violins, for the beginning of the film and David Lang, more minimalist, for the end.
We feel that you take special care in dubbing. The voice of Uncle Thomas is interpreted with infinite sweetness and delicacy.
R.P .: This letter to my uncle, parts of which are taken voiceover, I asked a friend to play this role of narrator. But I felt dispossessed, so I said the text myself.
For my uncle's voice, I did a test with Abi and that was fine.
Abi Feijó : Usually, I am more expressive. I often do dubbing workshops with children, and I push them to exaggerate the game with reading. But Normand Roger asked me to be in restraint to play Uncle Thomas.
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