“Welcome to Siegelkirchen” not only honors Manfred Dix, one of Austria’s most respected cartoonists and satirists, it also marks the country’s first animated feature film.
Incomplete at the gala premiere at the Zurich Film Festival, the film follows a child whose infinite talent for painting gives him the time to grow up in a small conservative Austrian town for dissatisfaction, where Nazi sympathy is still prevalent. Dix initially worked on the project as industry director before his death in 2016.
Marcus H. For Rosenmুলller, “Welcome to Siegelkirchen” has long been made. It was the first animated film for a renowned German filmmaker, who joined the project almost a decade ago after producers Joseph Eikholzer and Ernst Gair believed Dixon about making a film based on his work and partly inspired by his life.
The film took several years to develop, and the process became an educational experience for Rosenmুলller, who oversaw the pre-production and screenplay. “I was green behind the ears,” he said, adding that the story got right and took a long time to fund the film. “I’m fascinated and amazed that it’s always a long journey to make an animated film.”
Spanish animation supervisor Santiago Lopez Jowar, whose accomplishments include Tom Moore’s “Song of the Sea”, Roger Allers’ “Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet”, and Tom Tickwar’s “A Hologram for the King”, co-directed the project in 2016. . “For me, it was a necessary collaboration between the animation filmmaking and all the previous work on the story that Marcus was doing,” Lopez said.
For Rosenmুলller, working closely with Lopez proves a valuable educational experience. “I can take what I learned from making this animated film into a fiction film, especially when you are focusing on what you really need for the story. What Santi taught me is where we need to focus: movement, on emotion. It was really awesome for me as a co-director. ”
Collaboration has resulted in a work that is true to Dix’s art and consciousness. “There are a lot of elements that are inspired by his life,” Lopez said.
This is also evident in the satire and appearance of the characters. Rosenmুলller added that the film captures the artist’s contempt for the prevailing prejudices and discrimination at the time.
“The theme of our story is the theme against which Manfred Dix always fought against his cartoons: the Nazis who still lived in the village, the stigma of the church and the bigotry of society.”
The subject of his satire, his criticism, was more than hypocrisy, Lopez insisted. “And that’s what the film reflects.”
Although the characters are very much in Dix’s caricature style, the film has an overall natural and realistic look. “The reference I used for the animators was Sylvain Chomet’s ‘The Illusionist,'” Lopez explained. The 2010 film (based on the screenplay by Jack Tatty) used caricatures in a similarly realistic setting.
Rosenmুলller’s experience in creating “Welcome to Sihilkirchen” has been particularly appreciated for the genre, especially for the creative freedom that is not possible in live action. “You can be free in your head. You can just draw it. You can just do it. This is a big advantage in animation. ”
Sold internationally by Picture Tree International, “Welcome to Siegelkirchen” (formerly known as “Snowy Boy”) will be distributed by Pandora Filmverlih in Germany, Filmeden in Austria and Presence Film in Switzerland.
For his next project, Lopez plans to direct an animated film, “Hikari,” made in 19th-century Nagasaki, about the persecuted Japanese Christian Ginsaburo Mariyama for his beliefs. Jonathan Clark’s Kilkenny-based Distillery Films is producing the film, which has already raised development funds from Screen Ireland. “Welcome to Siegelkirchen” is ready for co-production by producer Eicholzer Filmproduction and Manuel Cristibal’s Madrid-based Signatia.
López and Cristóbal (“Buñuel in the labrinth of the turtles”) are also collaborating on some more announced animated features for adult viewers.
Rosenmুলller, meanwhile, will be doubling down on animation in his next project, a modern remake of the 1980s classic TV series “Mr. Eder and Sean Pamukal,” with a magician Imp who lives with an elderly carpenter. The new live-action animated show, produced by Munich-based Newsuper for RTL and its TV Now streaming platform, is set to shoot next year.
Rosenmুলller’s other current film, “Lifeguard of Duty,” is about a furious lifeguard trying to save a local swimming pool from being shut down, to review the recent hit in German theaters.