The Work of Eran Hilleli

Israeli filmmaker and animator Eran Hilleli has an interesting animation style which seems inspired by various other artists, but never imitates them. Much of Hilleli’s early work can be found online, but below are some of the best.

Knowledge of the Cone is a student project that was directly inspired by a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting of the same name.

We Used to Call People Late at Night is another student project that Hilleli admits to having been inspired by the film Persepolis when creating; however, it reminded me of another animator which I greatly admire, Dustin Grella, who works in a similar styled medium and uses telephonic voice recordings as the basis for some of his work.

Close to Home is a short film / music video for Ori Avni. Avni’s music is a sort of perfect blend of ethnic and shoegaze, and fits the shooting style of Hilleli well. Incidentally, Avni’s music appears in many of Hilleli’s works. The one-take shooting style of this piece is uniquely paced and the movement of the camera is just superb, it almost has this elastic quality about it which I’ve never seen on a dolly or tracking shot executed so well in an indie production.

Here’s another video for Avni in which Hilleli created an installation piece which appears to be a compendium to the above short.

Inside_Out feels like it should be a Radiohead video, as it has all the right qualities to be such. This short shows a heightened sense of style in the progression of Hilleli’s animated work.

Three and a Half Seconds About Life is a short animation which, while maybe not intentionally on the part of Hilleli, seems directly inspired by the Alan Clarke short Elephant from 1989 (which then directly inspired filmmaker Gus Van Sant to “remake” it – in very much his own way, mind you – in 2003).

Finally, there’s Between Bears, Hilleli’s film which won Best Animation at Vimeo’s first film festival. Polygonal art and the whole bear theme just makes me think of the band Grizzly Bear and their LP Veckatimest, but other than that, I think this short again shows the impressive and ever-evolving style of Hilleli’s work. I look forward to what’s next from this filmmaker.

As an added bonus, do yourself a favor and check out the videos Hilleli’s shot for singer Daniela Spector. (I’ve embedded my personal fave below). There’s a subtle dreamy quality to Hilleli’s live performance video shoots, and even though the whole back-and-forth soft focus style is used by many a handheld HD video filmmaker these days, Spector’s songwriting and music is incredibly enchanting. You can download her album here if you dig it as much as I do.



So in my neverending search for something audio/visual that inspires me, I ran across this short animation from a London-based filmmaker and animator Andrew Gibbs. Can’t seem to find much more fully realized work of his online, and this appears to have been completed when in school, but it’s well worth it’s short running time.

The music by CocoRosie is a great touch, but it’s the cut-out, choppy, animated style that I find always appealing. Watching this, made me think back to the last interesting animator I ran across a few years ago, Andy Smetanka.

You may be more familiar with Smetanka for his videos for The Decemberists, and The Tain is one which will always be my favorite. If this short film by Smetanka was being distributed, I would have it sitting here on the shelf next to me. Alas, maybe I need to start my own distribution company though, because nothing I like ever quickly makes its way to a collectible format. Anyway, even if you’ve seen it before, check out The Tain in its 20+ minute entirety below. It’s Tim Burton at his peak in late 1920s Germany – channeling the best bits of Murnau and yet making the whole film seem like you just read a novel when it’s over – it’s a journey.

Just for good measure, here’s one more, The Bachelor and the Bride, from 2003:

An Artist Who Actually Likes Voicemails

Voicemails have never been this fun

Dustin Grella is an award-winning, New York-based artist and animator, whose work has shown in many galleries and films festivals around the world. Dustin’s style of animation is unique in that it feels less like a cartoon and more like art come to life. This year, the Tallahassee Film Festival is proud to present his beautiful short film, Prayers for Peace, about the tragic death of his younger brother in 2004 in Iraq.

Dustin is currently working on another larger project, of a slightly different theme. “Animation Hotline,” as he calls it, is a number anyone can call in to and leave a voice message for the artist. Dustin then selects from these voice messages and creates a new 10-30 second animation based on the message and using the voice recording. The ones he’s done so far are at turns hilarious and sad.

According to Dustin, messages can be, “Just a few sentences, an idea, a word that you think sounds cool, a line from a book that you like, something you heard in the hall that afternoon, a secret that you don’t want anyone to know, or maybe you do, something that bothers you, something that… you get the idea, right? Basically, anything.”

So, we at the Tallahassee Film Festival have partnered with Grella to present an awesome opportunity to our audience and Tallahassee residents! Call the Animation Hotline today, and leave a message that includes the word TALLAHASSEE in it.

Dustin has graciously agreed to select one voice message which includes the word TALLAHASSEE somewhere in it, which we will then premiere on Opening Night, April 7, 2011, before our feature presentation. The person selected will also receive two tickets to the Opening Night Film and after party, and a DVD copy of their animated voice message, signed by the artist! Put the animation hotline in your speed dial and start talkin’ about Tallahassee!

IMPORTANT! Please provide your name and phone number at the beginning or end of the voice message so we can get the DVD to you.

The first animations from the hotline are available at

The animation hotline number is: +1 212-683-2490
International? Skype him at animationhotline

Call soon! Contest ends April 1, 2011 at 11:59PM

Fear(s) of the Dark

Still from the segment by filmmaker Blutch

Fear(s) of the Dark is a chiaroscuro nightmare – well, actually, maybe more of a bad dream. It’s not really frightening in terms of today’s horror film standard, there is virtually little to no gore in any of the stories. It’s an “anthology film” (or collection of shorts) all dealing with characters who experience fear in various ways. Part of the problem is that it’s animated and monochromatic. Comic book lovers may find it a pleasant experience to see the still, inked frames come to life, but a film lover like me found it difficult to stay captivated.

In terms of relating it to other films, it looks stylistically like Sin City, but with an arthouse twist. In the whole anthology there are only one or two bursts of color: red and green. They happen in an interlaced – almost poetic – recurring segment that consists of visual trickery and a female narration that confesses all the many things that scare her in life.

For the most part each of the segments in the film are interesting, although far from thrilling or scary. There’s one about a pack of angry dogs who are all leashed up, but their master lets one go throughout the course of the entire anthology. Each time he lets one go, it mauls and kills someone nearby, until finally (and obviously) he sics the last one on himself. Another segment is about a man who discovers a large, empty house and breaks inside to get out of the blistering cold. There’s no light in the house, so he lights his way with firelight and that is the extent to which we can also see. It’s actually one of the best in the compilation and rightfully is placed at the end of the film.

Still from the segment by filmmaker Richard McGuire.

There’s not a lot to sink your teeth into here, but for the most part it all feels nicely original and if you’re into graphic design and art, this is certainly a film that you should check out for some inspiration.

3D Makes Everything Better

Just saw Avatar the other night and now I wish everything was in 3-D. Actually, at first it made me a little nauseous, reminding me of those days as a child when the last 3-D movie I saw was at a Florida theme park. I never could get used to the feeling of wearing those perforated, red-and-blue-lensed, cardboard glasses. Just never sat right on the bridge of my nose or tucked right behind my ears. Anyway, don’t have to worry about that anymore since now you get real, Elvis Costello-channeling-Lou Reed, rectangular, plastic-framed glasses inclusive with your admission fee of $15.

What fascinated me for nearly the first twenty minutes into the film was how wide these damn glasses are now! It’s like they finally thought to make the glasses widescreen for your widescreen experience. I didn’t have to keep moving my head all over the four corners of the screen to prevent missing something in glorious three-dimensional Technicolor. Speaking of that, what’s up with all the fluorescence in Cameron’s saga? No one in the film mentions anything about the bio-luminescence phenomenon that seems to be taking place on this freaking planet, so are we supposed to not be impressed by it in 2156?

The beauty of the film is that it is entirely reminiscent of a theme park ride. It never lets you down. Everyone knows that Jake Sully is going to redeem himself in the end somehow or another, but yet we still remain enthralled to follow a story that we’ve seen unfold numerous times. The visuals were amazing indeed, but the analogies for what the world is like today were timeworn. Humans = America and Na’vi = the rest of the world. Sully as a character was clearly in need of anything to make him feel like he belonged to something larger them himself. His body had failed him and the only thing he ever knew was the oppression of any individualism he might have had, it was obvious all along that inserting himself into an unknown and unique world was what he’d ultimately need.

Avatar is an awesome, visual and imaginative creation from the mind of James Cameron, maybe destined to win awards on its conceptualism, but it falls short on story and anything deeper than what’s on the other side of those plastic glasses.

Russian Propaganda Gone Metal

I literally have nothing to say about this, but I can’t stop watching it.

Radiohead’s House of Pixels

The new Radiohead video for their slow jam “House of Cards” off In Rainbows is pretty cool if you’re into that whole CGI dissolve movement (you know, just about every horror movie with a vampire–think Blade 3–uses it).