ANNECY, France — Annecy has been “Loving Vincent.” The world premiere on Tuesday at France’s Annecy Festival of the independent animated feature received a 10-minute-plus standing ovation which lasted throughout the final credit sequence and beyond.
Billed as the first-ever fully-painted feature film, and screened at the Festival’s biggest auditorium, the feature-length debut of Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman received a heartfelt reception from most of its first public audience which spilt over onto social media. Among Twitter comments: ”We applaud innovative approaches to reaching Vincent”; “Vincent Van Gogh has sprung to life in animation”; “It got me, and I did cry.” Prizes or none, the film looks set to become one of the most talked-about of new features this year at Annecy.
“Loving Vincent” is directed by Kobiela, whose credits include the short, “Little Postman.” It is co-directed by producer Hugh Welchman, producer of the Oscar-winning short “Peter & the Wolf.” International sales are handled by Edward Noeltner’s L.A.-based Cinema Management Group.
According to Welchman, the $5.5 million-budgeted “Loving Vincent” will be distributed in about 135 countries.
A fictionalized, mystery-driven biopic, “Vincent” has a vibrant palette created by stop-motion oil paint brush strokes painted on canvas after the directors rotoscoped the performance of actors.
This gives a noteworthy expressivity to characters.
The story plumbs the last days and still-not-completely-clarified death of the modern painting master. According to Welchman, “after reading many books and more than 800 letters written by the artist, we decided to create a plot which includes imaginary characters.”
“Loving Vincent” is produced by the U.K. and Poland-based BreakThru Films (“Peter and the Wolf”), in co-production with David Parfitt’s Trademark Films.
A deeply-felt tribute, “Vincent”’s production is unlikely to become common industry practice. Shots were painted over on canvas boards frame-by-frame. “For every shot in the film, we ended up with one canvas, apart from the very long shots like the opening shot, where we had three canvases. There were about 1,000 shots in the film, so we have about a thousand paintings,” said Welchman.
He added: ”We have about 500 design paintings so 1,500 paintings in our studio. There are 65,000 frames. We painted at mainly 12 frames-per-second.”
Anna Kluza, part of the animation painting supervisory team said that painting a three-second shot took one month to complete.
A tribute and devotional and collective work, “Loving Vincent” required the cooperation of more than a hundred painters. “I wanted this film to be part of keeping alive Van Gogh’s story, because his is a great story, and we hope this film will encourage people to look at Vincent’s works and read also his letters,” said Kobiela.
Vincent Van Gogh is already one of the world’s two-or-three most popular modern painters, a near-guarantee of crowds at any major museum exhibition. With this film, his popularity is likely to grow. “Loving Vincent” will see its first commercial release in France on Oct. 11 via La Belle Company.