The film activity of Paul Fierlinger is, in several regards, symptomatic of the actual creation and function of narrative non-fiction.
Fierlinger was born shortly before WW II as the son of a Czechoslovakian diplomat in Japan but because of the position of Japan in the axis of evil, he had to move and make a new start in a new country. He spent the early stages of his life, along with his parents, in the USA and after the war he returned to Czechoslovakia where he studied applied art. With his 16mm camera he became the first independent producer of animated films in this region.
Eventually he realized that in such a socially and psychologically narrow environment it was impossible for him to live and work – in 1967 he migrated via the Netherlands and France to the USA, where he established himself as a reputable animator. In Fierlinger's case, the biographical origin has its justification, because the events that he lived through left such a powerful mark on him that they became an integral part of his method.
His personal history, experiences and impressions are the constant starting points as well as final material realized by Fierlinger in animation techniques and medium, providing a distance from the subject and a prevention of being flooded by the theme while at the same time enabling the accentuation of crucial moments which could have otherwise been overlooked. Briefly put, Fierlinger uses animation as corner perspective. On the question of theme, in his attitude to the recorded or in his relationship to the subjects in front of the cine-camera, Fierlinger is a documentarist – he just does not use photorealistic recording.
The application of animation to the documentary intention manifests the empathy and humanism in Paul Fierlinger. This is also proved by the films included in the mini-retrospective of this author. In Still Life with Animated Dogs he depicts himself along with the dogs of his life. Every dog gives us a personified lesson. In Drawn from Memory he rounds off his lifelong calling to narrate his Czechoslovakian story including his experiences of a communist dictatorship and the trauma of emigration.
Draw from Memory
dir. Paul Fierlinger, USA, 1995, 56'
Still Life with Animated Dogs
dir. Paul Fierlinger, USA, 2001, 30'
dir. Paul Fierlinger, USA, 2003, 27'
10 Dec 10:00 p.m. Film Auditorium — DRAWN FROM MEMORY OF PAUL FIERLINGER
— series of films — Non-fiction Animation