Culture, Travel & Sport

Film: Loving Vincent

Winner of Best Animated Feature Film at the European Film Awards and nominated for many other awards (including a Golden Globe, BAFTA and an Oscar), Loving Vincent tells the story of the troubled artist’s final days, beautifully depicted in oil painted animation. Each of the film’s 65,000 frames is an oil painting on canvas, using the same technique as Van Gogh, created by a team of 125 painters who travelled from all across the world to studios in Poland and Greece to be a part of the production.

The film’s director, Dorota Kobiela – a Pole – is a painter herself and wanted to tell the artist’s story after studying his techniques. The paintings are very cinematic; they reflect so much of his life and surroundings,” Kobiela says. “They work together to create a story.”

Kobiela, who studied at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts and Painting, features in Variety magazine’s latest ‘10 Animators to Watch’ list, has been a hot property for some time. She had previously directed one live action short film, The Hart in Hand (2006) and five animated shorts – The Letter (2004), Love Me (2004), Mr Bear (2005), Chopin’s Drawings (2011) and Little Postman (2011). Little Postman was the world’s first, and to Kobiela’s knowledge still only, stereoscopic painting animation film. It won Stereoscopic Best Short Film at the LA 3D Film Festival, the 3D Stereo Media (Liege) and 3D Film & Music Fest (Barcelona).

Like much of Kobiela’s previous work, Loving Vincent also started out as a short, funded by a Kickstarter campaign and later with the help of the Polski Instytut Sztuki Filmowej. The film has received the stamp of approval from the Van Gogh Museum, which offered advice regarding content, while Axel Rüger, the director of the museum, officially approved the concept and the script. “Loving Vincent will contribute to further raising public awareness of Vincent van Gogh’s work, his letters, and his turbulent life,” he said.

The film has so far grossed almost 20 million US dollars worldwide. This seven-year, painstaking production, which began with Kobiela and her co-director Hugh Welchman spending four weeks shooting 60 minutes of live-action footage with their actors in period costume and makeup in front of green or blue screens (two weeks with the principals in London and two weeks in Poland for backdrops with body doubles) is likely to be one of the most talked-about films of the spring.