Following the end of a stormy love affair, Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka enlists in the First World War. After suffering serious injuries in battle, he experiences a series of memories and visions as medics transport him through the forests of the Russian front. Playful and imaginative, I’m OK explores the wounds of heartbreak and trauma. Inspired by the life and art of Oskar Kokoschka (1886–1980).
Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Elizabeth Hobbs
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
Thank you! I had first found out about the Expressionist artist Oskar Kokoschka and his work on a residency that I was awarded by the Tricky Women Film Festival in 2009. (https://www.trickywomen.at/en)
I wanted to make a film that explored a very particular time in his life, specifically the end of his love affair with Alma Mahler, which led to him volunteering to enlist in the First World War, where he suffered serious injuries. I wanted to take inspiration from the many prints, paintings and plays that he created at the time and make a film about this time, using paint and ink.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
I hope it will be as exciting to watch as it was to make. Kokoschka and Alma Mahler were extraordinary people. The narrative is accompanied by a very beautiful operatic soundtrack (Gluck’s Orpheus and Eurydice), and the drawings were recorded while the paint and ink were still wet. I hope watching it makes the heart race a little bit.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
The film is about a very passionate love affair, including the jealousy and heartbreak that sprang from it, and about Kokoschka’s experiences in the First World War. In the making of it, I’m also exploring the materials with which he made his work. I hope the themes will resonate broadly.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?
The film is created in an unusual way. Instead of a script, or a precise proposition, I started with a painting, a print, or even a piece of music from Kokoschka’s diaries, and then I animated under the rostrum camera until I felt I had something interesting. I am inclined to shoot a lot of material, and then choose a small proportion of what I have created to edit together to create the final film. In that way, I don’t often know what the film is going to be like at the beginning of a production, and I appreciated the trust that was placed in me by my producer, Abigail Addison, and co-producer, Jelena Popović.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Actually, I haven’t shown it outside of the Animate Projects and National Film Board of Canada production teams. I am encouraged by the fact that it has been selected at Annecy and Edinburgh; I will look forward to hearing what people think.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible onwww.wearemovingstories.com?
The Moving Stories website is a great platform for filmmakers to talk about their work, and I always appreciate the opportunity to spread the word about a film after the many years of hard work under the rostrum lights! I hope that as many people can hear about the film as possible.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
The film festival directors are very important to me, I would like to have the chance to show it at many festivals, and it’s great to be able to talk about the work to journalists if the opportunity is there. I would also like to show the film in Austria, where Kokoschka is from. I’m always thinking about future projects too, knowing how long it takes to get the funding for new projects, so potential co-producers are very welcome to get in touch.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
There is such a fantastic mix of films created around the world each year, all in such different techniques, and with so many diverse subjects at their heart. I would like I’m OK to add something to that wealth in the world of animated filmmaking. I also hope the audience will come away with a yearning to find out a little bit more about Oskar Kokoschka and his paintings.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
Who were Oskar Kokoschka and Alma Mahler?
What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m lucky enough to be in production on a new film called The Flounder, which will be completed in December 2018. It’s commissioned by Klangforum Wien, produced by Abigail Addison and performed with a live score created by Carola Bauckholt.
Interview: June 2018
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Length: 6:00 minutes
Director: Elizabeth Hobbs
Producer: A co-production by Elizabeth Hobbs, Abigail Addison (Animate Projects) and Jelena Popovic (NFB).
Executive producers: Michael Fukushima (NFB) and Gary Thomas (Animate Projects).
Writer: Elizabeth Hobbs
About the writer, director and producer:
Director Elizabeth Hobbs is a visual artist based in London. Though her background is in printmaking and artist’s books, for the last 16 years she has been making animated films that have won many awards. Part of Elizabeth’s work entails creating participatory animated films and devising visual art projects with young people and community groups.
Abigail Addison (Animate Projects)
Addison is a producer and Director of Animate Projects, an arts agency working at the intersection of film, animation and art. Over the past 10 years, she has produced many innovative projects for clients such as Channel 4’s Random Acts, including Elizabeth Hobbs’ short film Imperial Provisor Frombald. She also co-produced Chris Shepherd’s Johnno’s Dead, which won Best British Film at the 2016 London International Animation Festival and Best Animation at the 2017 Aesthetica Short Film Festival.
Jelena Popović (NFB)
Producer at the NFB Animation Studio since January 2014, Jelena forged her skills as production manager and associate producer on conventional, interactive and hybrid documentary and animation films. Her latest releases are Hedgehog’s Home directed by Eva Cvijanović and co-produced by Vanja Andrijević (Bonobostudio, Croatia), which won over 34 prizes, and Manivald, a by Chintis Lundgren, a coproduction with Estonia and Croatia.
Social media handles:
Official website: https://lizzyhobbs.wordpress.com/
Where can I watch it next and in the coming month?
Official Selection Annecy 2018: https://www.annecy.org/home
Official Selection Edinburgh International Film Festival 2018 : http://www.edfilmfest.org.uk/2018/mclaren-award-new-british-animation-1/06-27_14-35