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Russian Animation Artist Aleksandr Petrov

Great strides have been made in the animation film industry since artists first created moving pictures in the late 19th century, with ongoing developments in graphics giving animators the tools to go wherever their imagination takes them – and relatively quickly. But, pioneers of animation needed endless patience and ingenuity to create moving pictures for their eager audiences. One of these innovative artists is multiple award-winning Russian animator Aleksandr Konstantinovich Petrov.

Born in the village of Prechistoye in Russia's Yaroslavl Oblast, Aleksandr Petrov studied at the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) in Moscow and was inspired by the work of award-winning Russian animator Yuriy Norshteyn. He made his first films in Russia, before traveling to Canada where he adapted Ernest Hemingway's novel, The Old Man and the Sea, and filmed it using an intricate technique which few animators have been able to perfect. Using his fingertips and slow-drying oil paints on multiple sheets of glass, Petrov added depth to his paintings, which he then photographed frame by frame while slightly modifying the painting each time. The resulting 20-minute animated film took the talented artists two years to complete (March 1997 to April 1999), during which time he painted each of the more than 29,000 frames, which were captured on a motion control camera system. The effort proved to be worthwhile as the film was well received by critics and audiences, with Petrov receiving the Academy Award for Animated Short film as well as the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Film Festival sponsored by the International Animated Film Association.

Prior to working on The Old Man and The Sea, Aleksandr Petrov had already garnered numerous awards and nominations for his other works, including Welcome, The Cow, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man, and The Mermaid. After returning to Russia, Petrov completed the animated short film My Love in his distinctive style in 2006. The film received many awards, including the Hiroshima International Animation Festival's Jury Prize; the FIPRESCI Prize for Best Animation at the International Leipzig Festival for Documentary and Animated Film; and the Grand Prix, Best Direction and Best Visuals prizes at the 12th Open Russian Festival of Animated Film.


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