Review: ‘Parnography’

With "Parnography," veteran Estonian helmer Hardi Volmer pays handsome but not hagiographic tribute to fellow filmmaker Pritt Parn. Assembled from interviews with Parn, his friends and admirers, clips from Parn's work, and dramatized material, this lively and packed docu feels too confined within its hourlong running time.

With “Parnography,” veteran Estonian helmer Hardi Volmer (“All My Lenins”) pays handsome but not hagiographic tribute to fellow filmmaker Pritt Parn, the animator of such shorts as “Hotel E” and “Breakfast on the Grass,” and arguably his nation’s best-known and most talented film artist. Assembled from interviews with Parn, his friends and admirers, clips from Parn’s work, and dramatized material, this lively and packed docu feels too confined within its hourlong running time. Although more salable as it is to TV, “Parnography” will have animation fans lusting for more and could have wider fest appeal if expanded to feature length.

Flitting gracefully between contempo material and looks back over Parn’s life, pic sketches how his art evolved from a rural childhood, an early flirtation with science, surrealism, Eastern bloc animation and Soviet-era repression. Parn himself, seen teaching students and knocking around his home, comes across as grumpy and shy when it comes to explaining his work. That task is better done by assorted talking heads, including fellow animator Bill Plympton and curator Edwin Carels. Snappy editing and imaginative lensing round out the solid tech package.

Parnography

Estonia-Latvia

Production

An Acuba Film (Estonia)/Kompanija Hargla (Latvia) production, with the support of Estonian Film Foundation, Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Ministry of Culture of Estonia, YLE Teema, ETV, LRT, AVRO, SVT, European Media program. (International sales: Acuba Film, Tallinn, Estonia.) Produced by Jaan Kuks. Executive producer, Arko Okk. Directed by Hardi Volmer. Written by Toomas Kall.

Crew

Camera (color, DigiBeta), Arko Okk; editor, Kaspar Kallas; editing supervisor, Laila Pakalnina; music, Olav Ehala; costume designer, Anneli Bachman. Reviewed at Black Nights Film Festival (Estonian Feature Film Competition), Tallinn, Estonia, Dec. 9, 2005. Estonian, English dialogue. Running time: 58 MIN.

With

Pritt Parn, Bill Plympton, Kaido Kerma, Avo Ulvik, Laura Nolvak, Vaino Laes, Jaan Ruus, Hillar Palamets, Maria Pitk, Edwin Carels.
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