Interview with Andrea Szelesová, director of Sestry [Sisters]
Monday 14 February 2022, by ,
The Big Sister – a person of colossal size – is trapped in sand in a deserted landscape. With no way to take care of herself, this burden falls on her resentful little sister. But The Big Sister keeps growing and sinking into her trap. Despite of The Little Sister’s attempts to stop it, she is left with one night to say goodbye and let go.
Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration and the story behind the story of Sestry?
I thought for a long time what my graduation movie would be about. I had too many emotions I struggled to express. Problems at home, a loved one struggling with addiction and myself struggling with my self-worth. Many ideas had been thrown on paper just to be scratched. Somewhere along the way I saw a picture of a sculpture of a huge head, which make me think of the rest of its body – if it existed – would be buried underground. An idea of slowly being pulled under by things that weighted one down came to my mind, and it was suddenly a point I could focus on. And with the one drowning came the other person trying to save him. I felt I found a representation so simple, so universal, anyone could find their own story in it.
From a technical point of view, this film differs from your previous animation film, Afternoon Tea. What has drawn you to use a different technique?
While Sestry was my graduation movie, Afternoon Tea was a previous school project I worked on in my second year of FAMU. The school encourages us to try various techniques, and while I had fun delving into stop motion and animating with puppets in Afternoon Tea, I ultimately returned to digital animation and to drawing by hand – were I feel most at home.
Can you tell us a bit about the tools and methods you used for Sestry?
The final technique of Sestry was 2D digital hand drawn animation with elements of digital paper cut technique. However, the media that inspired me were my initial sketches done with color markers. The texture created by coloring with markers on paper led me to search for ways to transfer this aesthetic into the digital space. I experimented with various digital brushes with altered opacity, sketching as one would with markers. This resulted in the hand sketched animated textures you can see in the movie.
Is there a particular short film that has made a strong impression on you?
A short film that caught my attention last year was Coffin made by Gobelins students. The movie shows a glimpse into the life in China’s Coffin Homes – were many people are forced to live together in small flats. I had the pleasure of seeing the movie in Annecy and I was captured by the way the film expressed the frustration of living in an enclosed space, of having no escape from others invading your privacy. I loved how the surrounding distractions took a tangible form in a way animation does it so well.
What’s your definition of a good film?
There are many types of good films. Ones that make you laugh, ones that make you shed a tear, ones that make you think or ones that surprise you by bringing something new to the table. Attending festivals, you often sit through hours and hours of short films, but after you leave, you will only remember a few. A good film, ultimately, is one that stays with you.