ice animation: Dan Sokolowski

Dawson City has been a magnet for filmmakers at least since the Dawson City International Short Film Festival started a decade ago. One of the Dawsonites committed to all things cineastic is the smart, unassuming and committed-to-ballcap filmmaker Dan Sokolowski. The director of the said DCISFF since 2007, Sokolowski himself makes animations that are sometimes dreamy, sometimes jazzy, bending to the freedoms of structured improvisation.

One of Sokolowski’s signature approaches to animation is to shoot frames from the underside of a glass sheet; on the topside, he paints the animation with thick brushstrokes and luscious palette-knife swathes. On occasion he’ll put pigmented ice on the glass and shoot the melting colours transformations. Sokolowski used the ice technique in his 4.5 minute (winter)time, and he generously sent a clip from that short for The Ice Cubicle to post.

An abstract dance of winter images, this film combines over 7 different styles of animation. In this clip, a passage of painted aurora borealis shapes dances past before tiny air bubbles appear in the ice. The time-lapse approach lets the mystery of melting ice – something we don’t usually find the patience to watch – shimmer briefly across the video screen.

Tech details: 4 1/2 minutes, 16mm, colour, made in 2001
Film and animation: Dan Sokolowski
Editing: Dan Sokolowski and Cristina Usubiaga
Music by George Gershwin, arranged by Peter Togni and performed by the Peter Togni Trio 

As Sokolwski’s website puts it, Sok Cinema has been producing a blend of animation, experimental and documentary films since 1983. In addition to his own films Sokolowski has worked on over 40 independent productions as cinematographer, animator, assistant director, lighting director and editor.

Sokolowski has taught courses in 16mm filmmaking, animation and studio arts. He was a board member of the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative of Ottawa (5 years) and currently sits on the board of the Canadian Film Institute. He is a member of the Dawson City Arts Society and the Yukon Film Society.

And he makes a mean salmon burger – if you’re witty enough to deserve one.

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