Exclusive – Theodore Ushev’s Blind Vaysha

I was very privileged to be approached recently about a short animation that was nominated for an Oscar. It is called Blind Vaysha and is written by Georgi Gospodinov and illustrated by Theodore Ushev. The story follows the life of a young girl that is born with two very different eyes. One eye sees the future as the other sees the past. Throughout the story she is burdened with the knowledge of knowing both but never the present.

After I had watched the film I knew I had seen a masterpiece of animation comparable to none. Every frame is a portrait that is illustrated like a gallery of art revealing a story that is universally appealing and unforgettable.

Blind Vaysha did not win the Oscar but two weeks later it did win a CSA! I caught up with Theodore Ushev to hear about the success of the animation and how much hard work it takes to create an award winning production.

 

“Congratulations on a unique and artful piece of animation. I thought it was incredible. I’ve never quite seen an animation like it before. Is this a technique that you’ve perfected on your own?”

“Thank you, I did create the style of the animation through a combination of colour layering first and then etching the lines into the colour to create the images. Once you draw your lines, you can’t go back. There is no undo. This is one of the best qualities I enjoy about it. It looks raw and imperfect and can be unpredictable.”

 

“The story seems to have a clear message. Learn from the past to have a good future. Universally it is a message we can all learn from. Where did you find the story?”

“I have to thank Marc Bertrand for finding Georgi Gospodinov and making it all happen. I’ve worked with Georgi on a previous animation. We are both from Bulgaria and born in the same year. I believe because we have the same background and influences, we get along very well and agree on the same ideas.”

 

Theodore has to be one of the most humble men I’ve had the pleasure of speaking with. He told me he was hoping his fellow animators at the NFB were going to win the CSA. He described being at the Oscars as spiritual. He said the media treated him and the other animators like stars. He was slightly surprise that a lot of them didn’t pick up on the message in the story but found it fascinating that children were able to quite easily.

“I honestly don’t need an award for my work. Being nominated is great because five films will now have more attention and will be watched by many audiences because of it. That is the reward. Being able to create something people will enjoy watching and to take something away from it. Although I create the animation alone, it’s always been a team effort. I enjoy finding great people to work with because you’re pushing each other further and further to raise the medium and it helps my work become better.”

 

Theodore Ushev arrived in Canada in 1999. He was involved in multi media before animation. He started working in animation in 2004. Since his involvement in animation, he enjoys taking old techniques and reusing them in a new way. For one animation he used his own blood pigmentation for a colour. It was performed inside a lab. He’s not just creating animation, he’s creating art as he continues to explore forgotten techniques while pioneering and inventing new ones.

Theodore has been nominated many times and has won a Genie seven years ago for another short animation entitled Lipsett Diaries. It was a short animation that follows the descent of the maelstrom of anguish that tormented Arthur Lipsett, a Canadian experimental filmmaker who died at 49. The film can be seen on the NFB website. His animation is much like an artist creating a painting.

“I put all of my energy and my life into each work. I would much rather be back in my studio working on my next project instead of promoting. I’m a painter and would rather be working than talking to people.”

 

Theodore Ushev is anxious to complete his next animation, The Physics Of Sadness. It is a 30 minute animation written by Georgi Gospodinov. He has already completed five minutes and it is expected to be finished by 2019.

He has discovered a new technique he refers to as Beeswax. It has never been used in animation before but Theodore has found a way. I am looking forward to the announcement of another nomination once it’s completed. I believe in his remarkable vision and his artistic interpretation.

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