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Lipsett Diaries captures top honor

64th festival sees country’s top films compete
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THEODORE USHEV won three awards for his film the Lipsett Diaries, Best Animation, the Founders Award and Best in Festival. The film, an exploration of the life of renowned experimental Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, was a highly personal project for Ushev, who hand painted each frame of animation.

The 64th Annual Golden Sheaf Awards saw the countries’ top short films again competing for the top awards and showcasing the talent both in Saskatchewan and across Canada.

The Ruth Shaw award for Best of Saskatchewan went to Remote Control War. The film, which also won Best Social Political Documentary, is about killer robots, explains producer Leslea Mair.

“It’s about the military’s use of robotics, how it’s changing warfare, how it’s changing our world, and how it’s changing threats from our enemies,” Mair explains.

Receiving the award is something exciting for everyone who worked on the project, Mair says.

“It’s nice to be recognized by your peers in your own home. It’s great to be recognized for your work in a larger scale against other films,” he adds.

The big winner of the evening was Lipsett Diaries. The film, an exploration of the life of Arthur Lipsett, a renowned Canadian experimental filmmaker, took home three awards in the evening, for Animation, the Founder’s Award, and Best of Festival. Director Theodore Ushev says he was honored to receive the award.

“There were so many great films this evening... This awards not for me, but for a great Canadian filmmaker who didn’t get the chance to achieve fame when he was alive. This goes to Arthur Lipsett,” Ushev says.

The film was animated by hand-painting the frames and using computer editing to link the images. Ushev estimates that he needed to paint 40 frames a day over the course of production, trying to capture the essence of the man he was making a film about.

“The process of doing this film was very painful, I was living in the head of someone who committed suicide for two years and a half... What kept going on this film was that I felt I wanted to do something for him, because I felt he was a great talent, a great human being, a great Canadian, and just a great man,” Ushev relates.

The process of making the film was both time consuming and lonely, but Ushev says that he chose to animate it in order to show the depth of Lipsett and his personal connection to him.

“I didn’t want to do an ordinary biography. I wanted to do a personal film because I felt that if I did an ordinary biography it wouldn’t be as deep as I wanted. I put myself in every drawing and every painting in this film,” he notes.

One of the goals of the picture is to make people more aware of the films of Lipsett, and Ushev says that in touring the film to different festivals, he has introduced more people to the filmmaker and has heard many people ask him about Lipsett’s work.

“I travelled the world with this film, and I’m happy that Arthur Lipsett is now one of the best known Canadian filmmakers in the world,” he says.

Animation is usually not something that gets a big prize, Ushev admits, and a film like his exploring the complex psychology of a troubled man is not what people expect from the medium.

“When people say animation you think ‘Oh, those silly cartoonish films on Sunday morning.’ They don’t expect someone is going to do something about a person who committed suicide... Animation is usually second ranked on a big festival, so I was a bit surprised.”

Ushev is thrilled to have received three awards for the film, and says that he’s grateful for the attention received for his work.

“I have to thank the people of the Yorkton Film Festival for giving me three prizes. This is the biggest hour I have ever had,” he concludes.


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