“Song Festival”. Picture from NUKUfilmi Lastestuudio Animation Generation facebook page
Since Elbert Tuganov directed the first Estonian animation, Peetrikese unenägu (Little Peter’s Dream) in 1958, there has been a special relationship between Estonia and telling stories on the screen. Starting May 2, the children of the Estonian diaspora in the United States will have a chance to be part of the magic, when an animation team from NUKUfilmi Lastestuudio come from Tallinn to visit five Estonian Houses and put on workshops.
“Animatsiooni generatsioon: the Estonian American Experience,” as the project is called, is the brainchild of Kreeta Kanger Käeri. An animator who has been building puppets and doing stop-motion animation since 2006, she and her team conceived of this project as a cultural bridge between Estonian and Estonian-American children.
“Animation speaks to everyone in a way that’s very accessible. Even the smallest child, who might not appreciate Estonian poetry or more traditional art, gets a special feeling watching animation,” she explained. Using this approachability as a base, the team conducted a number of workshops in Tallinn from February to April 2016, exploring local children’s ideas of what makes Estonia special. The animations created by the children will be shared with the Estonian-American children, who will also create their own during each two-and-a-half hour workshop.
Stop-motion animation involved moving an object a little at a time and photographing it repeatedly. When the images are merged, the objects seem to “come to life” and move of their own accord. Children are delighted to see their drawings move across the paper and their puppets get up and dance; a activity called a ‘pixilation’ even lets the children themselves freeze and move like life-size puppets. The creativity unleashed by the workshops will be channeled to help the Estonian-American children think about how they themselves understand Estonia, and to see what their peers across the ocean think.
Sponsored by the Kultuuriministeerium and the Estonian American National Council, the project will cover New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle, officially ending on June 4, 2016. NUKUfilmi Lastestuudio, which offers animation courses and camps for children and adults, is providing important support to the team as well. For more information on the lastestuudio, visit their website: http://www.nukufilmilastestuudio.ee/ and follow Animation Generation on their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AnimationGeneration/