“Coronavirus will change the content of any story we next tell.”
– Rebecca O’Brien, producer of Ken Loach’s films 

I envision a role for creatives and artist to depict the issues society struggles with, whether it concerns visions of the future or societal matters. Books, films, artworks; they help us understand the world, but also shape it. In that way I can agree with the quote, although it sounds pretty pompous to me.

For me, drawing is a way to understand the world. My animation film Humanoid for example is inspired by the rise of artificial intelligence. While working on it I was reading the book Life 3.0 – being human in the age of artificial intelligence. The film is in no way a reflection of the ideas discussed in this book. But by exploring a topic on several levels, it will in one way or another find its way in the things I make.

‘Drawing is a way of reasoning on paper’, Saul Steinberg said, and I can very much relate to that. When I show my work somewhere, there are always people who come and talk to me and share their various ideas about ‘what it was about’. They often want to know if what they think correspondents with my intentions, but that is actually not that interesting. What is interesting, is that simple drawings and animations can evoke different associations and ideas and can invite to think about reality in a different way.

“I’ve actually been trying to figure out how to create more and more distance
between myself and the projects; so that it creates conversation.”
–  JR

Ever since being in art academy, this has been an issue in my work. Back then I was told that on the one hand my work was not personal enough, while at the same I was complimented for the universality of my work and the fact that ‘you cannot see it was made by a woman’. These days a teacher wouldn’t dare to say this anymore, but it was meant as a compliment and I also saw it that way. Today I see that my work might be understood universally, but it is definitely colored by my Western en possibly feminine world view. And just recently I realized that all those characters I draw are actually all myself. Oh no – haha! Ever since I realized that the distance between me and my work is much smaller that I have been thinking for a long time, I am looking for ways to consciously allowing more of ‘me’ into my work to shorten that distance even further.

At the same time, I want to ‘understand’ my own work. That needs a certain distance. In 2017/2018 I was doing a Master Animation at the AKV|St.Joost and started doing research. Both drawings and animation have the possibility to be very self-reflective. I find it interesting to see how you can use that to think critically about the world. My thesis Immersive Storytelling – animation as a tool for critical thinking is about this. I was able to publish it and present it at several festivals, which opened up a whole new world. When I make images, I usually work very intuitive. Creating and reflecting on what you make; it is an interplay and can enforce both ways.

“Once allowed to, fans are going to want the real deal again, so there’s no way [streaming] is the future of film festivals, just a temporary substitute.”
– Christopher Campbell, Author at Film School Rejects 

The huge benefit of online is of course the opportunity to easily visit festivals from all over the world. Festivals are more accessible for all film and animation enthusiasts, not only for the happy few who have time and money to travel to these places. Now, with the current corona crisis, it was the perfect solution, and I was happy to be able to send ‘my’ first-year students from AKV|St|Joost to the online version of Playgrounds Art Department. For the festivals and the creatives themselves it could also be seen as a possibility; the reach and platform are enlarged. If festivals will continue offering a part of their program online in the coming years, I would be happy!

Of course, real festivals should stay. There is nothing better than a bombardment of short films, after which you find yourself, hours later, coming outside, blinking your eyes en being surprised it is still light. Festivals offer the opportunity to meet people, meet like-minded people, exchange ideas and to have drinks and party and all other things that can’t be done online. And a festival also has an effect on a city. I see that every year during the IFFR in Rotterdam; the atmosphere changes, the makers take over for a brief moment. The last festival I visited in real life was Animafest in Zagreb, last year’s Summer, where I was asked to present my thesis. The cool thing was that both makers and theorists met each other there. I was there as a maker, but also representing the theoretical side. It was interesting to experience it from that perspective for a change. But to conclude: online programming won’t replace a festival, but it is a genius addition that will hopefully become standard.

Don’t miss the opportunity to watch Eva’s film Humanoid!

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