Andhra Pradesh

Lending life to animation


Isabel Herguera uses her work to tell stories, share life experiences and savour the beauty of shapes, rhythm, colour and light in her films

Animator Isabel Herguera’s work goes way beyond the formulaic tales of princesses, damsels-in-distress and Prince Charmings.

“My films are not character-based, they are slice of life stories,” she clarifies. “The beauty of animation is that it allows you to do both—stimulate and motivate people to tell their stories and make them sit back and savour the aesthetics of this medium.”

The 57 year-old Spaniard tackles real world conflicts and complicated issues.

“I have made short films here in India,” she says. Her animation film Amar is the story of a young Ines travelling to India to visit her friend Amar who has spent last many years in an asylum. She reminisces about the last few days they had spent together in India before she left with a promise that she would return. But those memories now have little to do with the reality of the situation as Amar has moved far away from the real world.

Animation is liberating, says Isabel. “I am able to express things in a way I probably would never be able to do in any other form. I do it for my own joy. For me, animation is like breathing.” Isabel uses the medium because she says it allows her to infuse profound moments from one’s own story into it. “Something that you have lived , of which you know each and every detail. Illustration of such details gives credibility to the film. It could be fiction or an experience, it is tinted with episodes of personal account.” That is very important to her she says. “Even if you are telling the story of aliens, there should be something in the relationship you establish with the aliens that is based on a personal experience. This is imperative to lend credibility to the story.”

While working with a group of children afflicted with AIDS in Goa, she captured their desires and dreams to show that an HIV-afflicted child’s aspirations are no different than a normal kid. The nine-minute long animation Under the pillow has voices and images depicting a group of children talking about their daily chores, and their life’s biggest treasures they hide under their pillows- their dreams.

Isabel’s love affair with animation began in 1988 when her Indian friend from Delhi Gul Ramani, who studied with her at art school in Duesseldorf, gave her his animation equipment and she fell in love with it. A prominent animator himself, Gul has extensively used his skills in shadow puppetry to popularise Indian tradition and culture. Breathing life into inanimate objects can be a daunting task, she realised. Observation and details were everything. “You need to get out and see things in motion, learn how things move or how people express themselves,” she says.

Isabel visited India in 2005. “But I did not have enough money.” To solve the accommodation problem, she offered to conduct workshops on animation in exchange for accommodation instead of money.

But by 2007, she was a prominent figure in the field of animation. And Sekhar Mukherjee, the current Director of NID, Andhra Pradesh, who was then hosting the first round of Chitrakatha design festival in NID-Ahmedabad, invited her. She addressed a workshop on animation and short film-making and “since then we have done many collaborative programmes,” she recalls.

Technology advancement

Technology has changed the way we see or perceive things today. “There is plenty of new software that has impacted the way we produce and how we tell stories today. The medium is much more popular and democratic now as it is accessible to everybody. The number of films being made has increased manifold.”

But at the end of it, no matter how advanced technology is, for Isable there is nothing she loves more than an idea taking shape. “I like to be able to decide when and how things get done. This can be a pleasure as well as a challenge - to strike a balance and find joy in what you do.”

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Printable version | Dec 13, 2019 5:02:03 PM |

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