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Igor Kovalyov

The Ukrainian Igor Kovalyov (Kiev, 1954) is one of the most outstanding figures of post-Soviet animation. He was a founding member (together with his friend and colleague Aleksandr Tatarsky and the producer Anatoly Prokhorov) of the studio Pilot in 1988, the first independent animation studio in Russia.

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‘We have fellow animators that we adore. One is the Estonian Priit Pärn and another is the Ukrainian Igor Kovalyov”

Quay Brothers

 

The Ukrainian Igor Kovalyov (Kiev, 1954) is one of the most outstanding figures of post-Soviet animation. He was a founding member (together with his friend and colleague Aleksandr Tatarsky and the producer Anatoly Prokhorov) of the studio Pilot in 1988, the first independent animation studio in Russia. Kovalyov was also central to the international success of the Hollywood studio Klasky Csupó, where he directed the innovative series Rugrats, Aahh!!! Real Monsters and Duckman for Nickelodeon, as well as its first feature film The Rugrats Movie (1998). Thanks to this series, Kovalyov revolutionised television animation for the general public, giving the format an exquisite fresh and indie feel.

 

But beyond his commercial success, Kovalyov is loved and recognised in the world of animation for his shorts made for adults, real jewels that have made him an international reference. It is that personal facet, the artistic and poetic dimension of his work, that Animac celebrates this year. A facet he developed during his early days (The Other Side of the Moon, jointly directed with Tatarsky in 1983) and that fortunately he has never abandoned. From Hen, His Wife (1989) to the recent Before Love (2016), which we premiere in Animac, Kovalyov has amassed – with barely more than half a dozen titles – numerous awards and distinctions in the most important festivals (Ottawa International Animation Festival, Hiroshima Festival, Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia...). Compared with figures as outstanding as Andrei Tarkovsky (his teacher in Moscow) or Robert Bresson (who he considered his true master), his work is characterised by a recognisable graphic style, inherited from the Estonian Priit Pärn, and an exquisite colour palette. We must add to this his particular poetics, hermetic and surreal, which today we would call quantum (he talks about a particular “rhythmic structure”), about the human condition, which he presents as bittersweet and tragic but with an unmistakable sense of humour.

 

The sound planning and design are also, given their delicacy, identifying marks that he borrows from his admired Walerian Borowczyk and the Quay brothers. Kovalyov is a master of creating suspenseful atmospheres, enigmatic and with latent repression, populated with ambivalent characters that struggle to find their place in the world where nothing is what it seems. They are stories with a dream-like quality (Flying Nansen), almost always domestic (Hen, His Wife), where desire plays an important role (Bird in the Window and Milch), as well as the difficulty of loving or communicating (Before Love)… everyday stories, supposedly trivial, which Kovalyov develops until making them monumental through an extraordinary love for detail. To develop the enigmatic nature of his work, Kovalyov recognises an “autobiographical” element in his films.

 

Animac welcomes a unique creator who through his work has taken animation one step further.

 

Carolina López


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