Animation guru wins national film award: Congratulations to Eastside’s business supporter Yoram Gross
The spirit of Blinky Bill wins again.
The man behind the animated children’s series Blinky BIll, who shares the character’s mischievous nature, Yoram Gross is honoured by the Australian film community.
Eastside’s business supporter and ARTS WEDNESDAY guest wins The Murray Forrest Award for film craft. The AWARDS were announced on the closing night of the 66th Australian International Movie Convention at Jupiter’s Casino on the Gold Coast August 25.
The Beatles asked will you still love me when I’m 64?
Yoram Gross’ films and series are still enjoyed in a filmmaking career that spans 64 years. The BLINKY BILL Series first aired in 1993 and is currently rated fifth on ABC2 – children’s programs 9:30am weekend slot.
“Some people say that Blinky Bill is the story of my life,” said Gross. “Blinky lost his father as I lost mine at age 13. He was looking for his mother as I was during the war.”
When I grow up I want to be a composer
Yoram Gross didn’t set out to be a filmmaker he wanted to be a composer and first studied musicology in Poland. Chopin, especially Nocturnes, Mozart and Beethoven are among his prized composers.
“I like all music that’s good. Asking what are my favourites is like asking a man who are his favourite women, he likes all women and I like all music that’s well written and well performed,” says Yoram Gross.
Music saved my life
Mr Gross’ harmonica playing saved his life more than once in World War II. His tunes entertained Nazi soldiers, who planned to shoot him, so much so that they decided to let him go. The Jewish boy played the role of a Christian to survive the conflict and was much praised for his organ playing at Church.
The filmmaker started his career in Australia by creating Bandstand video clips including John Farnham’s first for title track One. The illustrated music featured Christo’s wrapping of Little Bay.
Today Gross is creating the Young Musicians series where he animates classical music performances by students from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. He aims to bring his love of classical music to children. “It is easier to listen to the music if illustrated by animation,” he says.
Chansons sans Paroles
Yoram Gross conceived, directed, composed and played the harmonica music for Chansons Sans Paroles.
The love story between matchstick figurines shared third prize with Roman Polanski at the Bruxelles Experimental Film Festival in 1958. The motion picture was selected by international critics as “the most interesting film of 1959”.
The animator’s best known feature is DOT AND THE KANGAROO voiced by Spike Milligan. Gross was enamoured with the Australian landscape as a new arrival to the country and drawn to the story by Ethel C. Pedley about a little girl lost in the bush who is befriended by a Kangaroo.
Gross pioneered the technique of combining live action backgrounds and animation in Australia with an Aerial Image projector.He filmed the feature’s live action backgrounds in the Blue Mountains.
The film made in 1977 became a classic watched by generations of children. The box-office hit spawned another eight films from Dot Goes to Hollywood to Dot and Keeto.
Joseph the Dreamer
The filmmaker made the first full-length animated feature in Israel – Joseph the Dreamer starring puppets. The film won many international film festival prizes, including official entry in the 1961 Cannes Film Festival.
The production was made in a make shift studio/storage room, as the film industry was non-existent at the time. The studio lights were so hot that the crew could only shoot at night with open windows and doors.
Sarah (aka The 7th Match)
“We can’t always see their wounds because it’s their souls that have been scarred.”
The feature starring Mia Farrow tells the story of a little girl orphaned by the Holocaust. Sarah was hidden in the forest and had only seven matches to make a fire.
Yoram Gross Films did not have a Hollywood budget to pay the actress her normal fee yet Farrow agreed because she loved the story and had adopted children from war torn countries.
The veteran animator is currently producing Professor Filutek – a colorful series of two-minute animated shorts based on the cartoon strips by Zbigniew Lengren. The series features the loveable old professor and his dog who say nothing, but speak the universal language of comedy through their entertaining antics such as granting goldfish their freedom.
Gross was awarded the Order of Australia in 1995 for his contribution to the Australian film industry.
The essence of good animation
He believes that telling a good story in animation is important no matter what new technologies are available.
“To make a good animated film the tools have changed but the message is the same – you have to have something to say which the audience must understand.”