Montreal’s 2018 Animation summits at Cinemathèque Québécoise featured, yesterday, La Musique des Marionettes, a ”Masterclass” by Oscar nominated (for Madame Tutli-Putli, 2017) duet Chris Lavis & Maciek Szczerbowski’s on their body of work, focusing on the musical aspect. Though the title is in French, all procedures were in English, no translation.

The setting was cozy with the exhibit side of the affair displaying, in the background, a sample of famous Polish poster king Jan Lenica’s marvels (which are still on display until Sunday evening). So, both directors of course did praise the work of Lenica, also a key animator on his own rights, throughout their session. They highlighted the importance of scores in animation, maybe even more crucial than for any other kind of films.

Lavis & Szczerbowski’s chemistry in a live presentation is quite good. Their work is of significance, but overall this first take on the conference should be remembered as a work-in progress. Part of it, the speech parts, were obviously improvised at the last minute. In a four hours show (cut in half by lunch time) there is these long minutes were it runs out of gas because of it, despite the chemistry and great minds. There will be some trimming to do for sure. Anecdotes, excerpts, slides were good. This can become really interesting if it goes beyond the bunch of buddies chatting in a room.

This improvised facets became really apparent when talented multi-tasks Jean-Frédéric Messier, the composer of the score to Madame Tutli-Putli, but also of a string of fine committed works of the duet not listed on IMDB, was kind of thrown into the action to talk about their mutual collaborations jammed between both directors. A projected live streaming of composer John Kameel Farah (he was in Germany) ultimately added to the messy -if fun- interaction. Sad because it is supposed to be about the music.

Author – composer Patrick Watson had a more rewarding opportunity than his two colleagues in closing the whole show with a live take on piano, electronics, and recording devices, scoring on the spot a 30 seconds animation. During the first part of the day, in the very same room in which the audience was sitting, animator Marie Valade made a stop motion short film with a puppet. Watson scored it live several times, exposing the variants or directions it could take. Drama, comedy, darkness, suspense.  The audience even becoming a choir for one take. This was fun.

I also noted that the audience of about 35 people seemed to be from the world of Animation. Aside from the invited composers, not much people from the music scene. Within a city with programs on music for films, it could have been a good idea to promote the thing accordingly.

Animation summit run until Sunday at Cinémathèque Québécoise.