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The Calligrapher

The Quay Brothers
UK 1991 / 1’

In 1991 BBC2 announced its plans to refresh its visual identity. The Quay Brothers were commissioned to make three short animations to promote the channel. However, after seeing the films, the BBC rejected the Quays’ proposition. The Calligrapher is the edited version of the three sequences. The artists had experimented with animated paper silhouettes previously in Igor: The Paris Years (1982). The music was developed by the Austrian composer Olga Neuwirth (known for her opera adaptation of David Lynch’s Lost Highway and other works). In 1999 the Quays prepared the stage design for her opera Bählamm’s Fest, based on texts by the surrealist painter and author Leonora Carrington (the libretto was written by Elfriede Jelinek).

Jakub Mikurda

Bracia Quay

Twins, born in 1947. They studied in Philadelphia and continued their education at the Royal College of Art in London, where in the 1970s they directed their first short films. In the 1980s, they made commercials (for Honeywell, Walkers Crisps, and Dulux Wood Protection), music videos (the most famous one - for Peter Gabriel’s Sledgehammer), and animations which made them popular – The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer, Street of Crocodiles. In 1995, their first feature film premiered: Institute Benjamenta, or This Dream That One Calls Human Life, winner of the Bronze Horse in Stockholm and the jury’s award at the Fantasporto festival. Another full-length live acting film by the brothers is The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes. Their art is inspired by literature, especially by prose by Bruno Schulz and lately - Stanisław Lem.

Cast & Crew

director The Quay Brothers
cinematography The Quay Brothers
music Olga Neuwirth
producer Keith Griffiths
production Koninck Studios
language English
colouration colour