Yuri Norstein

Active - 1971 - 1979  |   Born - Sep 15, 1941   |   Genres - Children's/Family, Avant-garde / Experimental, Historical Film

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Though his works are relativity short in length, Yuri Norstein has made a name for himself as one of the most important Russian animators to date. Norstein was a painter and carpenter before working at Soyuzmultifilm Studio in Moscow in the '60s. After working with animator I.P. Ivanov-Vano, he started his own projects with the short film 25 October First Day. Throughout the '70s he continued making short animated films that won critical favor at festivals, most notably The Fox and the Hare, The Heron and the Crane, and The Hedgehog in the Fog. In 1979 he made his masterpiece, Skazka Skazok (Tale of Tales), which was regarded by some critics as the best animated film ever made. Using experimental camera tricks, drawings, cut-outs, and stop-motion techniques, Norstein's style is lyrical and nonlinear, evoking a sense of mystery and nostalgia, something the director himself refers to as a visual memory. Dealing with children's subjects and nursery rhymes, his complicated and sad films are more for adult audiences reflecting on their youth than for actual kids. Working with a small, largely uncredited production team, he is generally assisted by his wife, Francesca Yarbusova, cameraman Alexander Zhukovsky, and composer M. Meerovich. In 2000, the Animation Research Centre at the Surrey Institute of Art & Design conducted a book project of his life's work.