Filming in the style of late realism

Montenegrin painter Tijana Mrvošević was part of the artistic team that painted the feature-length animated film "The Peasants", in the same co-production in which the popular "Loving Vincent" was created.

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One of the frames in the film, Photo: Promo
One of the frames in the film, Photo: Promo

The feature-length animated film "The Peasants", co-produced by Poland, Serbia and Lithuania, had its regional premiere at the closing of the 29th Author's Film Festival (FAF) in Belgrade, after the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.

What makes this achievement stand out is the (post)production. Namely, first a feature film was shot with Polish actors, and then in post-production, on which the VFX team of the Serbian production company "Digitalkraft" worked, the exteriors were adapted to the action that takes place in the countryside, at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. so that paintings, oils on canvas, frame by frame, frame by frame would later be created based on that material...

The same production took part in the realization of the film "Loving Vincent", which was once nominated for an Oscar. The foreign co-producers of the film are BreakThru Films from Poland and Art Shot from Lithuania, and in front of "Digitalkraft" the producers are Ivan Pribićević i Jelena Angelovski. The film was directed by a female director Dorota Kobiela Welcmen i Hugh Welchman.

On the screen adaptation of the Polish Nobel laureate's novel Vladislav Raymont, more than 22 carefully selected painters worked, among them i Tijana Mrvošević from Montenegro, with supervisors Biserka Petrović i Vladimir Vinkić.

"The premiere of the film took place on the first of December at the closing of the Author's Film Festival. The hall was full and I was very excited about the number of people watching something to which I also contributed to some extent. I was especially proud of some of my colleagues who portrayed the best and most complex scenes in the film," she says and adds:

"As far as the film itself is concerned, I'm waiting to watch it analytically, but at the premiere there were many other things that distracted my attention. Although, I recommend everyone who has the opportunity to watch the film on the big screen", she conveys her impressions from the domestic premiere, at the beginning of the interview with "Vijesti".

Mrvošević said that the film takes place in the small village of Lipce and follows the life of a wealthy rural family.

"The main focus is the conflict between father and son over the land and over the young villager Jagna, who is the central character in the novel and in the film," he emphasizes and goes on to talk about how the process went and what was particularly challenging for her.

"When it comes to the painting and animation part of the work in which I participated, the process was as follows - we had an eight-hour working day that we would spend manually painting the frames. Each of us would receive a certain sequence of the film and have the task of painting the frames over the already recorded film, using the animator technique of rotoscopy. When it comes to the painting itself, oil paints were used, we painted on a board and in the style of late realism, referring to Polish painters from the end of the nineteenth century", says Mrvošević.

In such a project, the danger is that the space for the freedom and creativity of the artist will run out, but on the other hand, an experience like that brings many other benefits.

"It was quite difficult for me personally to work on this project because the space for creativity was quite narrow, so after a while it became too monotonous for me. However, when I put all the impressions together, I learned a lot about animation but also about painting, as well as about working and functioning in a team, which was great in the Belgrade studio, they are all extremely talented young painters", the painter points out.

Regardless of the process, techniques and method of production, the story that the film brings is in the foreground.

"It is a universal drama about tragic love and life in a small community, where tradition determines the role of each individual. So the girl Jagna has to marry an old and rich peasant, despite her love for his son, and over time she becomes the object of envy and hatred of the villagers," the description states.

The painting process started at the beginning of 2020, and the entire film was almost completely painted after three and a half years of work. About 40.000 frames were made for the film, and in the physical sense it is 1.200 pictures, on which details were changed in the animation process. There are so many saved images - the last frames from each frame. The legacy of the film is around 250 images that remained in Belgrade, and the plan is to exhibit this material in the MTS hall at the time of the film's cinema premiere, which is expected on January 18, 2024 in Belgrade.

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