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by Lela Scott MacNeil
May 27th, 2010

On the last polar day, up on the howling ice, a little Inuk man and a mischievous bear see their white world metamorphosed into a huge whale ocean of darkness. Camillelvis Thery’s animated short film Inukshuk is haunting in its simplicity. It screens as part of our “Dark ‘Toons” program this Friday, May 28th. Rooftop Films spoke with Camillevis about metaphysics and the communicative power of a simple line.

Rooftop Films: Give a brief description of your film for those who haven’t seen it.

Camillelvis Thery: It’s an simple animated tale in black and white about the disappearing of the ice cap. A small Inuit, a big polar Bear and a magic fish establish contact for a while, on the edge of fullness and emptiness.

RF: How would you describe the visual style of your film? How did you go about portraying this vast, nearly empty landscape?

CT: I tried to be as simple as possible, in order to get straight to the point. So I decided to draw with only one line, with pen and ink on white paper. The paper became the ice. I also looked at a lot of Inuit designs: masks, drawings, sculptures, which are wonderful… I think it is also the representation of the north pole I had in mind as a child: a vast flat landscape, frozen and empty. It was also easier to draw a simple flat line, than complicated realistic icebergs!

RF: The film is bleak, in some ways, but also very beautiful. How would you describe the tone of the film?

CT: I think it’s funny, even if everybody dies… To me the tone is that of an ancient Inuit tale; it’s fantastic, mysterious, harsh and funny at the same time.

RF: What is the relationship between man and beast as represented in your film?

CT: I think they are a bit alike…Stupid and beautiful. I wanted the man and the bear to look the same, like two furry creatures. The Inuit is dressed in the animal’s skin. But maybe the man needs to understand what is happening more than the bear. Man needs metaphysical explanations.

RF: Does your film have an environmentalist message?

CT: Yes. Yet it is not a didactic movie, nor a scientific explanation of the melting of the ice. It is more my feeling as an artist about the change that we are experiencing. I am moved by this change very much, because I grew up in the mountains making igloos when I was a child. I loved to dream about the north pole and the Inuit people. I was amazed by “Nanook of the North”, the movie by Flaherty.  But nowadays, these dreams are disapearing with the ice. So I needed to fix it on film. I have shown my film to many children who react a lot about the issue of global warming, and I think this is a good thing.
But the film is not only about environment. Beyond that, it’s a metaphysical reflection about life. The little character is born in the beginning, and spoiler alert kind of dies in the end. In the meantime, he discovers his world, with its animals, mysteries, losses… and now I’ll stop because this seems very pretentious.

RF: Are you a full-time filmmaker? If not, what else are you up to?

CT: I mostly work in the animation business in Paris. Right now I am working on a TV-show. And I try my best to make my own films as often as possible.

RF: Tell us about your next project.

CT: I have several ideas, but I think the next one will be a Sci-Fi movie!

RF: What excites you about having your film screened at Rooftop?

CT: The concept of Rooftop exites me a lot, I really think it’s a great idea to watch films in the open-air on the top of the city. What I like about cinema is the fact of sharing a wide screen and sound with many people. Like a concert, or a party; and it seems that Rooftop is all these: screenings, concerts, and parties. I am also very happy to have my film screened in New York. The film has been all over the world and each time it’s very interesting to have different feedback depending on the different cultures.

See Inukshuk” and other “Dark Toons” at the Rooftop Films show on Friday, May 28th on the Lower East Side.

Tickets and more information here.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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