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Interview – Abel Goldfarb – ‘Ian’ – A Short Film


Posted December 17, 2018 by

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Interview – Abel Goldfarb – ‘Ian’ – A Short Film

On November 30th this Oscar-Qualifying film will be released in an unprecedented joint effort from all major children’s Networks in Latin America: Disney, Discovery Kids, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, YouTube Kids and Pakapaka in Latin America and YouTube Worldwide.

This emotional film is based on the true story of a boy called Ian. The film was created by Emmy nominee Gastón Gorali, produced by Oscar winner and two-time Emmy winner Juan José Campanella and directed by Abel Goldfarb. This important film aims to help children to understand disability and for the message of inclusion to reach every home.

Ian was born with cerebral palsy. All he wants is to make friends, although it seems impossible to achieve when discrimination and bullying keep him away from his beloved playground. However, this young boy is determined and won’t give up easily.

“IAN” was produced at MundoLoco CGI using a unique animation technique that combined stop-motion sets made out of recycled waste with the latest CG technology. The film doesn’t use dialogue to express the children’s feelings making it inclusive to everyone regardless of their age, race, or language they speak.

The Ian Foundation was created by Ian’s mother Sheila Graschinsky to fight the lack of information that often leads to people with disabilities being bullied and feeling isolated.  Sheila originally approached MundoLoco CGI with the idea of using film as a teaching tool and Gastón Gorali wrote the film around the real story of Ian.

Interview - Abel Goldfarb - ‘Ian’ - A Short Film


To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Ian’…

‘IAN´ is an animated short film inspired by a real life story, made with a mix techniques of CGI and Stop Motion, but most importantly, it`s a story of inclusion and empathy, from one heart to another.

Ian was born with Cerebral Palsy. All he wanted was to make friends, although that seemed impossible to achieve when discrimination and bullying kept him away from his beloved playground. However, this young boy is determined and won’t give up easily.

He was 6 years old when this happened. Although it is something that he and a lot of people have to deal with every day, his mother Sheila is a fearless fighter who conquered the hearts of the entire studio to inspire us to make a piece that can convey that feeling to everyone who watched the film. We wanted to achieve a hopeful and emotional movie that connects us from hearts with the emotion that unites us all as people, and mobilizes us to change our pre conceptions for the better.

Where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

Sheila, Ian´s mother came to the studio, and told us about the bullying that Ian endures on a daily basis;

“When he first attempted a rehabilitation center, kids at an elementary school across the street would mock him from behind their school fence as he entered or left,” she recalled.

Their attitude inspired her to action. But, rather than fight ignorance with violence, Sheila wrote a book,” The Gift,” which shows a regular day of a family who has a kid with a disability. Every time a kid makes fun of Ian, she gives him a book. She always says that “It’s amazing the change it has on them,” She wanted to turn “the Gift” into a short film to reach a bigger audience. With Gastón Gorali, producer and writer, we noticed that while the story described Ian’s common day and gave you a good idea of his difficulties, the main objective was to connect emotionally with Ian´s feelings through that journey.

From there, we played with the metaphorical freedom of animation to give it a better livelihood.

’Ian’ has quite a distinctive style of animation, can you talk us through the process here? Why did you choose to animate the film in this way?

Once the path of history was defined, we began to work so each one of the elements added up to the general concept of inclusion and integration to which we were aiming. From the most structural, to the smallest detail. we approached the combination between Stop Motion and CGI, this union of different labor forces allowed us to enriched from both fields.

The CGI characters allowed us to play with the main concept of the little pieces that we are made of. The idea is that many small things are the ones making us who we are, and those things such as values, decisions and situations link among each other and give us the possibility to change, redefine, grow and modify ourselves. Seeing this repeated in each one of the characters, even if they look different or come from different backgrounds, works as a factor that shows that we are unified on a more essential level. The things that united us are much more significant then what divided us. In essence we are all made the same way.

The physically constructed Stop Motion sets allowed us to create a lot of details with elements of different universes that put together create a new form and meaning.

Juan Elías was in charge of making everything coexists harmoniously and empowering each other, as the main theme of the film aims to.

Tell us about the cast, who are the lead performers?

In our effort to achieve a universal piece, we did not use any spoken or written language. The result was incredible, it ended up achieving a very strong and direct connection with audiences of all ages, from totally different places and cultures. Appealing to what unites us as human beings.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

I have a huge collection of classic films. I love to learn from any filmmaker that enriched the cinematic language and make an impact. I have a very eclectic range, from Kurosawa´s movements to Orson Wells use of lenses, passing for Billy Wilder, to Fellini, Buster Keaton or Chuck Jones; And the usual suspects from the 70´s also.

Where there any significant issues throughout the films production? How did you overcome these difficulties?

Every time you venture into unknown territories, difficulties and problems arise in droves. Even more so when the budget of production is very limited. But having the luck to have a team as talented as the one we had in ‘IAN’, those challenges led us to push the limits of the known methods by force them with pure creativity.

The Hitchcock-style shoot, for example: ‘Zoom out’ with a ‘push in’ synchronized, is never easy to do. Now imagine matching the lenses, speed, framing and floor contact between photo shoot and 3D characters, without a motion control camera. Actually Sergio Fernandez, the line producer, had to design and built a really small slider, to make possible the movements with the minimum high of camera through the complete set.

What advice would you give any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

Actually, I´m going to steal a piece of advice from someone who has really cracked the industry, Guillermo Del Toro, he said that success is an exception; more often you are going to deal with troubles and adversity. So you better be prepare to learn from them and keep trying and making projects, eventually you will get through to the other side.

When and where can we expect to see ‘Ian’?

Ian has already screened at these following films festivals:

  • Edmonton international Film festival
  • Warsaw international Film festival
  • Hamptons international film festival
  • Chelsea Film festival
  • Austin Film festival
  • Naples International Film Festival
  • 27 Annual Whitaker St Louis International Film Festival

And at the moment, I can´t really say much about it, but the producers are close to achieving something incredible. Most of the big players in the animation channels will join and screen ‘Ian’ simultaneously on a very special day.

What is the next step for you, do you have any other films or projects in production?

At the moment, I am developing a TV series and a feature film, which hopefully can be entering production by next year.


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