Digging around the world of animated cinema in our country, we can't forget to mention the Compote collective. The collective has become a trademark of quality animated cinema, and not just in our local scene.
Digging around the world of animated cinema in our country, we can't forget to mention the Compote collective. The collective has become a trademark of quality animated cinema, and not just in our local scene. One of their most successful projects is the film Father, which has so far won over twenty awards from Bulgarian and international festivals. At this year's Sofia Film Fest, their latest project Shtrih i stih (Stroke and Verse) will premiere, which audiences in Burgas can see on March 16. The team is also involved in Muzeiko (the largest children's museum in the Balkans), Sofia's candidacy for European Capital of Culture, as well as the Multicultural Map of Sofia project. Here is what one of the founders of the creative group, Vessela Dancheva, told us.
Tell us about the idea for the Compote collective. How did the artists in the team come together?
Compote Collective is a platform for animated films and visual storytelling. The main drivers of the team are me, Vessela Dancheva, and Ivan Bogdanov. Our main goal is to create a creative environment where experience can be exchanged. We connect with people through the Collective who express themselves visually and do so in their unique and individual way. We share our experience in making animated films and try to encourage younger people to realize their ideas.
We would like the Compote collective to be thought of not just as a studio producing animated films, but also as a creative platform whose authors stand out with their freedom of expression, individuality, professional methods of work, forward thinking and teamwork. We believe that communication and teamwork can help you achieve a higher level of creative realization.
What do the different stories made as part of the Compote Collective brand have in common?
Mostly the fact that they are part of the collective. Our main goal is to create original animated films. We strive to choose topics that excite us.
For example, the idea for the film Father emerged quite spontaneously in a conversation with our friend, the journalist Diana Ivanova. We were looking for a suitable team project in which more than one director could participate, so that we could test the idea of intertwining the different styles that are foundational to the Compote team.
Father is an animated documentary based on five documentary conversations about our relationships with our fathers. Each interview served as a basis for the visual development of the script. Each story is interpreted by five different authors through a variety of animation techniques. The film is an extremely illustrative example of a set of individual techniques that are combined into a broader creative project.
Our newest film project Shtrih i stih combines six original short animated films based on six contemporary Bulgarian poems. The idea is to bring together distinctive examples of contemporary Bulgarian poetry and animation in a new form – visual poetry. Each film is very different, each director has their own way of interpreting verse. The premiere of Shtrih i stih will take place on March 9 at 9 p.m. at Cinema House, as part of the Jamеson Short Film Competition within the 19th edition of the Sofia Film Fest.
You often get involved in social campaigns. Which topics interest you and how does animation address them?
We try to work on projects for causes that excite and inspire us. In addition to animated films, we tell stories through comics and illustrations. Some of the interesting projects that we have started or gotten involved in include, for example, the children's creative center Faculty of Dreams in the Roma neighborhood Fakulteta, the idea for which came out of a comics workshop we led for children from this neighborhood. Another exciting project we are working on is illustrating the colorful stories of the people included in the Multicultural Map of Sofia.
We also work with the creative team of the children's research center Muzeiko, which is still under construction, designing various children's workshops. We were also involved in the development of Sofia's cultural strategy for its candidacy for European Capital of Culture 2019 and made three short videos with the motto "Share Sofia."
How did you choose the poems for the project Shtrih i stih and why did you choose to work with contemporary Bulgarian authors?
Each director chose a poem to work on. At the very beginning, Georgi Gospodinov helped us build up confidence in the project, he told us we could choose any poem from his collection Baladi i razpadi. Three of the directors chose a poems by him, the other three chose texts by the Dimitar Voev, Kaloyan Pramatarov and Dilyan Elenkov.
What is the shared code between poetry and animation?
There are no stylistic or genre restrictions in animation. It carries the power of visual symbols and metaphors in a similar way to how poetry weaves symbols and metaphors into language.
Years ago I made a film called Anna Blume, which is based on the Dadaist poem by Kurt Schwitters "An Anna Blume" from 1919. The interpretation of the poem and my personal relationship to it become painted images, which in itself is quite an exciting and intimate experience.
What are the problems facing Bulgarian animators today?
I think we have a very strong history of Bulgarian animated cinema. There are now two international animation festivals in Bulgaria. Perhaps what weighs on many people in the animation industry is the lack of community and continuity of traditions.
How does Bulgarian animated films reach its audience? Do films have a life beyond the festival screen?
We create original animated films and we want them to reach as many people as possible. This often turns out to be difficult, because the animated short is an unpopular format for film, television and market distribution due to its indefinite length and genre (this is not specific to Bulgaria).
The biggest form of recognition for us is when our films participate in international film festivals, and, of course, when they win a prize.
What's next for Shtrih i stih after its premiere at Sofia Film Fest?
After the premiere at Sofia Film Fest, we are planning an exhibition for Shtrih i stih, which will reveal details from the process of creating the six visual poems. The exhibition will open on March 19 at the Suspasious Gallery in Sofia.
How did animation change with the advent of 3D technology?
There was a boom in animations made using 3D computer technology in the late 90s. Now, each artist focuses on the techniques they find most appropriate for visualizing their ideas. But the development of new technology inevitably affects the process of creating animation.
An example of this is the project for the animated film Blind Vaysha by directors Theodore Ushev and Georgi Gospodinov.
What are your favorite cartoon characters from childhood? And your child's favorites?
For me, Suncho. My son Aleko had no trouble listing a lot of characters, the first of which were Finn and Jake (CN Adventure Time) and Pinko the Pink Panther.
If you could become a cartoon character for one day, who would you choose?
Popeye or Betty Boop.
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