ALEKSANDR PETROV: From the beauty of the universe to the genius of creation

On the 17th of July, in Pergola (Umbria), took place the first edition of Animavì – International film festival of poetic animation, a kermesse that hosted in its contests well-know artists, as well as young students from the Art school of Urbino. With Simone Massi, the poet of animations, as art director, the jury, which consisted of the director Ascanio Celestini, the writer Umberto Piersanti and the Oscar winner Aleksandr Petrov, awarded the first prize to the Russian director Anna Shepilova for the short It’s Raining: a black and white film with green and red watercolours, that illustrates the daydreaming of a chubby child at the outbreak of the WWII, to the sound of Violino Tzigano.

They dedicated an enchanting selection to master Petrov, including the masterpieces that marked his carrier, poetic and technique; he himself labelled it as a “Living painting”

“I apply oil painting on an illuminated and transparent platform. I use my fingers to avoid the colour to dry out, because working with your hands is faster than using a brush and I can create up to 15 drawings per day. A director is not concerned about quantity but about how much you can express. This is a long and slow work that aims to hide the effort from the viewer and to show the beauty of the poetry”.

“The Cow” (1989) it’s Petrov’s high school final project, but it already shows his great talent that made him obtain his first nomination to the Oscar. Based on a short story by Platov, but also in part on the director’s childhood, the film depicts the love and compassion that connect a baby with the animal that fed him. “I didn’t get richer,” affirms the master, “but I was more confident about my future career and aware I could face those challenges that are still rewarding me”.

“Mermaid” (1996) is instead the first short film produced by the animation studio founded by the same Petrov, showing how much he could realise with his own strength and staying in his country. The work, which won the Jury prize in Annecy, freely elaborates the Nordic literary motif of offended love and revenge.

And finally, the extraordinary “The Old Man and the Sea” (Oscar winner 2000), after Ernest Hemingway’s masterpiece: “I’ve wanted to work on this story, which I consider the best of the XX century, for a long time. I was very much interested in the relationship between man and nature. The will of a man that is grateful to life but never stops fighting the strength of nature”.

However, Animavì could use Aleksandr Petrov’s work even through the exclusive presentation of a special work: the theme song for the opening of the show, a proper pearl of animated pictorial art, firmed together with his son Dimitri. The violin started playing and a robin took flight: its ruby-red feather turned into a sailing ship travelling between the sky and the sea towards the horizon. A man dominates the ship’s wheel, pilot of his own fantasy.

“Animavì” highlights the art director Simone Massi at the end of the festival, “was as I wanted it to be, everything went smooth thanks to a special group coordinated by Mattia Priori, Leone Fadelli and Silvia Carbone. Luca Raffaelli’s coordination was fundamental: his kindness and intelligence made him conform to different situations that he had to deal with on stage and, as a result, we managed to bring prestigious names and public from all around Italy in a small town like Pergola, making everyone happy. Today we started working on the second edition, that will be even better”.