Irish Folk Furniture, a stop-motion documentary

February 12, 2013

Irish Folk Furniture is a stop-motion documentary, 8½ minutes long, that won an award for animation at the Sundance Film Festival last month. Director Tony Donoghue thought it might be too specialist to appeal widely, but it has charmed its way around the festival circuit. I recommend it warmly.

The film celebrates the tradition and use of farmhouse furniture in Ireland, with 16 items restored to a functional state. This is furniture not usually seen as beautiful – or starring in a film – but whose appeal lies in its very ordinariness and utility, and in the history it amasses over generations of use.

Tony Donoghue - Irish Folk Furniture - mouse

It’s a quiet gem in both form and content: as if Jan Švankmajer had rambled down a boreen in Tipperary. Dressers and flour bins wheel around the countryside while their owners chat away. The film is gently funny, beautifully shot, and features some lovely rural Irish accents and syntax, e.g. done as preterite in “we done a good bit on ’em”.

I wanted to link to the original on Donoghue’s YouTube page, but that video has since been set to private, so here it is from another page:

Edit: I’ve removed the video after seeing a comment on YouTube from Tony Donoghue saying his film was only meant to be online for the two weeks of Sundance, and that its continued online presence may undermine its film festival run.

If it reappears legitimately, I’ll reinstate it here.


Mysteries of Vernacular: animated etymology

September 19, 2012

Mysteries of Vernacular is a fun and admirable project from Myriapod Productions comprising short animated films about etymology. Each film sketches the history of a word in the form of a story lasting a couple of minutes.

There are to be 26 in total, one for each letter of the alphabet, So far, assassin, clue, hearse and pants have been completed. The animation is inventive, inviting, and understated, drawing viewers through an old book whose pages inform and amuse as they turn.

Here are the videos for clue:

and hearse:

You can watch (and await) others here. Jessica Oreck researches, creates and directs, while Graham James narrates.

Thanks to Cathy Relf for sending me the link.


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