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The making of Kleine, leichte Seele (Small Light Soul)

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Josephine Hock won an IAC Diamond and Best Animation Award at BIAFF2016

Still from 'Small Light Soul'.

Simplicity of Animation

Small, Light Soul is my first and (so far) only animated film. When I was 17, I started to get interested in film. I do believe that for every story you want to tell, you should seek out the best form of expression - it might be music, perhaps theater, dance or even film.

For Small, Light Soul  the clear simplicity of animation seemed most suitable.

The short film is completely drawn - in a very classic style, with pencil and paper. We worked a lot with copies, on which I re-drew parts. We photographed the pages and then assembled them in the computer. The "soul" was inserted later. It consists of several colored circles painted with water-colours, which Gustav digitally superimposed and twisted together.

Gustav and I are cousins. We have previously made another short film together. But that was more in the experimental film genre. In the future, we will certainly make films together again. However, now we have both started studying and I chose Contemporary Puppet Theatre as a focus of my work. Film is, and remains, a hobby for us, but increasingly it is difficult to find time and space for it.

Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.
Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.
Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.

What about puppet films?

I find puppets require a degree of abstraction. Because they are almost always something soulless, pretending to have a soul. This is often grotesque - sometimes funny, sometimes creepy. But just because of this sympathetic abstraction the form also allows you to handle "heavy" and unusual topics. For it is obviously not real. And that can be incredibly moving and profound.

With simplicity you can sharpen and focus views. The spectators see their own thoughts projected in the puppet and are thrown into their own experiences and memories. But of course this does not always manage to be touching - and often it is not even intentional.

We asked Josephine why she made Death seem so small.

It is interesting that you perceive the character that way. At some point it was somehow clear to me that the death looked like that. Initially, the face was in its basic form resembling a skull. That shape evolved during the period of contemplation and musing before the film.

Death is often perceived as something very big and threatening. But he is nowadays a fact of life. I wanted a vulnerable, small, almost helpless, but cordial death, who does not always know what he is doing there. I think such a view may be a little comforting.

A dead body is cold. Perhaps because the soul that indeed belonged to a warm, living body, is already elsewhere. Therefore in the film the souls are kept in warm, bright colors - because they are the warm vitality of a person.

We are always looking for the right genre for what we want to tell. If we should come to the conclusion in future that for a certain story animated film is the correct form, then we will again make an animated film. Otherwise, we make fiction, experimental or documentary films.

We asked about the child's tiny soul bouncing around like a ball.

Perhaps it means hope. Maybe childlike, joyous energy. Maybe something else entirely. Definitely something that is part of life and does not work without life.

Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.
Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.
Still from 'Kleine leichte Seele'.

Are you making a new film?

At the moment I am focussing more on theatre. If I come across a story that should be told, Gustav and I will sit down together and look back for the appropriate form. And if that form is film, we will grab the camera and begin to shoot.

Was Frederike your sister?

Yes, and she always will be.

- Josephine Hock