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The Impossible Figures and Other Stories trilogy are multi-award-winning short films directed by Polish-born animation creator Marta Pajek. The first film of the trilogy, Impossible Figures and Other Stories II released in 2016, brought Marta an international reputation as one of the most gifted animation creators of her generation.

The trilogy has been selected for more than 40 awards internationally so far, including the Grand Prix at Glas Animation, the Grand Prix at Stuttgart International Festival of Animated Film, a special mention at Animafest Zagreb, and the Best Design award at Ottawa international animation film festival.

The trilogy shows the mysterious internal stories of three women in three different scenarios of their interpersonal relationships, and their emotions twine around the audience through instinctive and insightful visual expressions. All three films are the embodiments of the strength of animation as a visual storytelling medium, by visually expressing the invisible and intangible nature of the human subjective experience.

As the trilogy was completed with the release of Impossible Figures and Other Stories I last September, we caught up with Marta to find out what went into making the trilogy and what her thoughts are on the films. We would like to deliver to you a lengthy interview with Marta, so you can watch the trilogy with great insight.


Impossible Figures and Other Stories II (2016)

Film Credits
Director / Author / Art Designer: Marta Pajek
Music Design: Aleksandra Gryka
Producers: Kuba Karwowski (executive producer), Piotr Szczepanowicz and Grzegorz Wacławek
Production: Animoon (Poland)
Production Manager: Zofia Jaroszuk
Technique: 2D animation
Format: 15 min

Synopsis
The film portrays a story of a woman, who keeps on stumbling and falling in her daily rush. When she gets up, she discovers her house has quite unexpected attributes – it’s built from paradoxes and filled with illusions.

III (2018)

Film Credits
Director / Author / Art Designer: Marta Pajek
Music Design: Aleksandra Gryka
Sound Design: Michał Jankowski
Producers: Piotr Szczepanowicz and Grzegorz Wacławek
Production: Animoon (Poland)
Production Manager: Zofia Jaroszuk
Technique: 2D animation
Format: 12 min

Synopsis
A Man and a Woman meet in a waiting room and immediately get closer to each other. They commence a game that gradually gets more and more ferocious. Their faces resemble masks while shapes slowly lose their integrity. Bodies are formed like clay, embracing each other until the limits of impossibility. „III” is a portrait of a woman in an exhausting relationship with a man, which allures and repulses at the same time.

Impossible Figures and Other Stories I (2021)

Film Credits
Director / Author / Art Designer: Marta Pajek
Music Design: Aleksandra Gryka
Sound Design: Michał Jankowski
Producers: Piotr Szczepanowicz, Grzegorz Wacławek and Maral Mohammadian
Production: Animoon (Poland)
Co-production: National Film Board of Canada (NFB)
Production Manager: Zofia Jaroszuk
Technique: 2D animation
Format: 16 min

Synopsis
An ominous ticking sound triggers a massive explosion. A swarm of objects and figures scatters unforgivably. In the aftermath, only a few souls remain, including an elegant elderly woman. Wandering deserted city streets, the tired, stoic woman painfully recalls what was and what could have been. As a flood slowly swallows the city, she shares a final moment of grieving beauty.


Interview with Marta Pajek

Story of the trilogy

Hideki Nagaishi (HN): I would like to hear about the making of the trilogy. How did you set up the project and how did you develop a team that made it feasible?

Marta Pajek: The production of the whole triptych spanned 6 years, plus the time necessary for developing the stories. The concept, however, and the general structure of the whole project, was created in one afternoon in my kitchen. I approached Piotr Szczepanowicz (Animoon) with the idea, and Animoon applied for funds from the Polish Film Institute and we started making the films.  For each of them the team was a bit different, although several people worked on all of them. I collaborated with 2D and 3D animators and clean-up artists. For part one, which was made last, thanks to Maral Mohammadian and Michael Fukushima we were also joined by a co-producer: the National Film Board of Canada. In this case, the animation was made partly in Montreal, with the NFB team and partly in Poland. During the whole project I collaborated with the polish composer Aleksandra Gryka and sound designer Michał Jankowski, joined for the finale by Olivier Calvert.

HN: Where did the initial idea of the trilogy come from? Did you think of developing three films from the beginning?

Marta Pajek: I wanted to make a film which would go beyond the short film format, but I felt that the film language I use wouldn’t work well in medium or feature length. That’s when I came up with the idea of making a triptych – three animated shorts, each a separate story, but connected by certain ideas and motifs.

I was inspired by the concept of the impossible figure – one which you can draw according to all rules of perspective, but cannot build in an existing three dimensional space. When I came up with the idea, I decided to write all three stories before going into production of any of them. Later, when part II and III were ready, I came back to the script for part I and developed it a bit further.

HN: I would like to hear about your creative process of the three films. How did you develop each film, and from what starting point?

Marta Pajek: The starting point for each of the films was the impossible figure – something, at first glance, simple and clear. However, when you look closer, you start noticing the illusions and paradoxes.

I wanted to tell stories that would resemble such a figure – situations or concepts, which are simple at first sight, show their complicated nature, revealing those illusions and paradoxes which form them.

For each story there was a different space, which together form a kind of box structure – the city, the house and the space between two people. That was the ‘basic kit’ for developing the stories.

HN: What was the most difficult objective in the trilogy project, and how did you achieve that?

Marta Pajek: It was difficult to steer the stories in such a way that they would allow some freedom of interpretation, but at the same time staying powerful and convincing. As for achieving goals, in the end it boils down to the experience of a particular individual in the audience, so it works for one person, but not for another and that’s fine for me.

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