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Jan Svankmajer The Insects

Annual Top Films Lists

Top 100 Most Anticipated Foreign Films of 2018: #80. Jan Svankmajer’s The Insects

The Insects

Legendary Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer, at the age of 79, has been working what’s been announced as his last project The Insects for the past five years (and his first film since 2010’s Surviving Life (Theory and Practice). Known for his combination of live action and animation, famously in his 1988 version of Lewis Carroll’s Alice and more recently in masterworks like Little Otik (2000) and Lunacy (2005), Svankmajer returns to classic literature for the inspiration of his latest. Previously taking pages from Goethe (Lesson Faust, 1994) and Poe (Lunacy), Svankmajer is loosely basing his latest on a 1922 play from the Capek Brothers, From the Life of Insects (aka The Insect Play), combined with Kafka’s The Metamorphoses. Six amateur thespians meet in a pub to rehearse the Čapeks’ play, while their personal stories interweave with those of the characters they are about to play. The play is intended as a backdrop in which insects behave like humans and humans like insects. The division of six separate characters is reminiscent of the set-up used in his 1996 film, Conspirators of Pleasure.

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Release Date/Prediction: We’ve been tracking Svankmajer’s The Insects for the past several years and we can finally open the champagne as the film will premiere in Rotterdam. After a successful crowd-funding campaign in mid-2016 to assemble the rest of the film’s budget (in order to complete the film’s complex animation with previously filmed live footage, we are hopeful Svankmajer should be ready to premiere in the coming year. While several of Svankmajer’s short films have premiered in competition at Cannes and Berlin, his narrative feature record includes a Special Jury Prize win out of 1994 Karlovy Vary for Faust and competing in Locarno with 1996’s Conspirators of Pleasure. His last feature, Surviving Life premiered out of competition at Venice.

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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