ANIMAFEST SCANNER IX | SYMPOSIUM FOR CONTEMPORARY ANIMATION STUDIES | PANEL 2 THE STATE OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN ANIMATION AND ITS FUTURE
Excavating the Frame: The Animated Still Image of Susana de Sousa Dias - Pedro Serrazina (Universidade Lusófona de Lisboa, Portugal)
PANEL 2 THE STATE OF CONTEMPORARY EUROPEAN ANIMATION AND ITS FUTURE
08/06 TUE 10:10-10:40
This presentation will introduce and analyse the documentary-making practice of Susana de Sousa Dias and her use of the still frame from an animated image perspective. Sousa Dias is a director who works with the archives of the Portuguese state police from the years of Salazar’s dictatorship. Her films, and particularly 48 (2009), have developed a refined strategy to direct a contemporary gaze upon archival still images and footage to, in her own words, “excavate the frame”, in a process that unveils multiple layers and additional meanings: personal, historical and political. In Natureza Morta (2005), she slows down and reframes state footage. Bringing the natural rhythm of live action to a still, the director reanimates the image to look at the space outside the frame in a process not dissimilar to that of the animator’s reinterpretation of real movement. In 48 Sousa Dias uses an apparently simple and minimalist approach, locking the frame over mug shots of the political prisoners and ‘giving them voice’ through the aural recordings of interviews conducted with some of the survivors of the dictatorial regime. But, as the camera lingers over the frames of the originally small and inherently indexical photographs, it opens a space of revelation, a hint of time, hidden gestures and history. Different photos from the same prisoner, but taken in different occasions, are slowly cross faded, generating a slow animated/morphing effect that indicates not only the passage of time, but also reveals the humanity of those portrayed. Based on direct conversations with the director, about her construction of the image and the gaze, and referring to authors such as Sontag and Benjamin, I will argue that Sousa Dias’ process of filmmaking is similar to that one of the animator: bringing to life the movement in between the frames so famously suggested by McLaren.
Pedro Serrazina is an award-winning director, senior lecturer and animation researcher. His work (short films and site-specific installations, music videos, workshops and academic projects) has been exhibited internationally at numerous festivals and art events (Tunisia, USA, Canada, Brazil, Russia...). Serrazina is interested in the connections between architecture, public space, documentary and animation, and his practice-based PhD was dedicated to the use of animated space as a tool to reflect on social space. A member of the Society for Animation Studies and of Ecstatic Truth, the animation and documentary practices symposium, Serrazina participates regularly in and organizes animation-related conferences. He is a fond collector of vinyl and is currently preparing his next documentary-based film, What Remains of Us.