“Another Day of Life,” a much-awaited animation/live action hybrid film, world-premiered on May 11 in a special screening at the Cannes Film Festival. In attendance were Alicija Mielczarek, the widow of correspondent and writer Ryszard Kapuściński, and their daughter Rene Maisner. Co-directed by Spaniard Raúl de la Fuente and Poland’s Damian Nenow, the film is based on events which inspired Kapuściński’s book chronicling his experiences during the 1975 Angola War, which established his literary reputation. “Another Day of Life” is lead-produced by Poland’s Platige Films and Spain’s Kanaki Films in co-production with Walking the Dog (Belgium), Hungary’s Puppetworks, and Wüste Film and Animationsfabrik (Germany).
“Another Day of Life” won the Producer of the Year Award at March’s Cartoon Movie, where 15 minutes of excerpts were screened in sneak preview. Indie Sales handles international sales rights.
Do you think Kapuściński’s wife and daughter recognized him in the animated character?
Nenow: I believe so. I had a long conversation with Rene and she said the most satisfying thing for us: “You’ve managed to catch the way of thinking of Ryszard Kapuściński.”
There’s another movie at Cannes – Anja Kofmel’s “Chris the Swiss” – which is also a documentary-animation hybrid. Do you believe this approach is building into a trend?
Nenow: Ours is not the first. I wouldn’t say “Another Day of Life” is a pioneer. But at the same time there are only a few. If there’s something new in our movie, it is that we’ve tried to show how powerful this multi-dimensional approach to a topic can be. We knew we wanted to go hybrid from the beginning. The first teaser we did in 2014 absolutely convinced us. This was a proof for us that there was something very powerful in the project.
What do you mean by this multi-dimensional power?
De la Fuente: We wanted to tell a real story, already written by Kapuściński, and based on true facts that we explored and double-checked. At the same time, we wanted to tell the story through animation, and a fiction component came into the project at that point. This took our movie to a level of fiction and a more personal and intimate universe. The animation allows us to fly and to enter into fantastic worlds. Sometimes it looks like an epic adventure movie. But the documentary footage brings us back to the truthfulness we always pursued. I can’t imagine “Another Day” without the documentary footage, because the original idea was always that: to mix them.
We know many people are now working on similar formulas. It’s hard work, you have to invest a lot of years and effort. It may be an interesting formula, but it’s not an easy or cheap one. It’s a hugely difficult adventure.
Can you drill down on the conception and development of this hybrid?
Nenow: As Rail mentioned, the very essence of our approach is the combination of the segments. This is not about choosing one line or another. The storytelling concept here is the combination itself. It’s not that you make a first part in one way and then the other in a different form, as happens, for example, in “The Congress.” Ours is a different case. Some other hybrids just use animation as illustration, as if a graphic simplification would be less hard to shoot. This is not our case. We built the story and spent three years designing it. Even the screenplay was developed thinking in a hybrid format.
It’s a crafted piece of cinema that is very imaginative, but closely inspired in reality at the same time….
De la Fuente: We have to remember that everything is inspired by reality. During our first trip to Angola, we shot the landscapes, characters, portraits, situations, roads… they were meant to inspire what the film was going to be. The main characters in live action were meant to be an inspiration for the animated ones. Other inspirations were Kapuściński’s book, our conversations with real people. This is a very complex work with animation, melding fiction and reality, because we were trying to cross borders to create something new in a unique film. This is not a combination of two films. We think it’s very radical and very difficult to achieve.
How did you distribute the creative work?
Nenow: On an every-day basis. I remember working very hard in a very beautiful part of the Basque Country. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I remember very long sessions working, brainstorming with Raúl and fighting. But they also were the most beautiful fights I’ve ever had. That’s the creative process.
De la Fuente: Damian is a very wild director, me too. But we always came to an agreement. All the decisions were made 50/50 by the two of us. After that, we divided up the work.