Tag Archives: Spike Jonze

Closeup: To Die By Your Side (Mourir auprès de toi)

Poster for To Die By Your Side (Mourir auprès de toi)

Buy tickets for our April 13 screening

Spike Jonze is well-known for directing films like Where The Wild Things Are, Being John Malkovich and Adaptation, but he made his name making short films, specifically music videos. And unlike many directors who go on to direct full-length feature films, Jonze has continued making short films in a variety of different media and genres. In 2010, he directed the wonderful I’m Here, a story of self-sacrificial love between, uh, robots. And for the recent release of the Arcade Fire album The Suburbs, he created a 28-minute short film to complement the music.

I first heard about To Die By Your Side from the guys over at Short of the Week, who pointed me to the Nowness site to watch it. By way of background, Jonze first contacted handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan because he wanted her to make him a Catcher in the Rye-themed embroidery to hang on his wall. She shot back that she wanted a film in return. They enlisted French director Simon Cahn and spent six months working on the script and then set to work animating the 3,000 pieces of felt that Le-Tan had painstakingly cut by hand. Not wishing to re-invent the wheel, I’m going to post two short interviews that writer Maryam L’Ange conducted for Nowness:

Co-director Spike Jonze

How did the film come about?

I met Olympia in Paris through friends of mine. She was just starting to make the bags for her friends. She had a bunch of the scraps in her bag, all of the cut-out pieces of felt. I just loved it. I loved all the artwork she picked, the texture of it, the stitching of the felt. We joked about making a film and just went for it. It was this thing with no schedule, no pressure and no real reason to be—other than just that we thought it would be fun.

Did you write the story together?

Yeah we did. We would look at all the artwork over lunch whenever we would be in the same city, noting any ideas that would just make us smile. It was done like that, with no real plans.

What’s your creative process?

You just start with what the feeling is. For this one the feeling definitely started with the handmade aesthetic and charm of Olympia’s work. Instantly I had the idea of doing it in a bookstore after-hours, imagining the lights coming down and these guys off their books. Me and Olympia both wanted to make a love story, and it was fun to do it with these characters. It evolved naturally and it all just started with the feeling. From there you entertain yourself with ideas that excite you.

Do you go with your gut instinct?

If it cracks me up. We were talking about the skeleton coming off his book and the girl in the Dracula book waving at him. Olympia is someone who is just absurd, she’s used to just saying anything. She just started making the blowjob gesture as a joke to make us laugh but I was like, “We’ve got to do that.” It’s about taking things that could just be a joke while brainstorming and actually going for it and using it.

What inspires you?

People inspire me. Humberto Leon and Carol Lim [from Opening Ceremony, a Manhattan retail store] and the confidence and creativity in how they run their business. Pixar’s really inspiring, they make films in the best possible way. They’re always focused on story. I could list a million people that inspire me all the time. David Bowie’s music, Charlie Kaufman, David Russell. A lot of people that I work with too, just conversations I have with them about what we want to do.

Designer Olympia Le-Tan

How long did the film take to make?

We worked on it as a side project for about a year and a half, on and off. Cutting up all the little felt pieces was really intense and took about three months non-stop. I think there were over 3,000 pieces. Then our animators turned it all into a movie. They worked night and day for two months.

Did you write the story together?

The three of us [Le-Tan, Jonze and Simon Cahn] wrote the story together. Spike wanted it to be a love story between two characters from different books. We looked at all the books I had made and the story came together from there.

Are you a star-crossed lover?

I am definitely a star-crossed lover and a hopeless romantic. Which probably explains why I am still single.

What’s your favourite first edition cover?

I’ve grown very attached to the first edition cover of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Do you make bespoke clutches and what would you choose for Spike Jonze?

I have to like the book and its cover to agree to a bespoke design. I don’t just make any request. Spike asked for Catcher in the Rye but if I had to choose one for him it would probably be something by Maurice Sendak, maybe In the Night Kitchen.

Which book-clutch first edition best describes you?

The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.

Making-Of Video from Co-director Simon Cahn

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/21352791 w=500&h=283]

Buy tickets for our April 13 screening

Full Program for our April Screening

UPDATE (March 1, 2012): Future Shorts has added The Arm to the program. See the synopsis below!

I’m happy to share the full program for our April 13 screening with you today. We’ll be showing two acclaimed Canadian shorts in addition to the Future Shorts pop up festival slate. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more information about each film individually, but for now, here’s the overview. If you like what you see, why not save $2 and get your advance tickets now?

Still from Dimanche


Dir: Patrick Doyon
Canada – 2011

This animated short is a love letter to children’s imagination. After church, a family gathers at grandma and grandpa’s. It’s a Sunday like any other, except for the factory closing that has the grown-ups worried. As usual, a young boy chases away his boredom by playing with coins on the railroad tracks. He finds, to his surprise, that there are amazing sides to some coins. This animated fable for the whole family shows us how important it is to see life through a child’s eyes — even on a grey Sunday afternoon.

  • Nominated for Academy Award, Short Animated Film

Duration: 9:00

Still from Bear


Dir: Nash Edgerton
Australia – 2011

Edgerton wrote, directed and starred in Bear, the sequel to Spider (2007). The film centres around the main character Jack, unfolding his tangled relationship and examining whether he’s learned his lesson or not. Described as a black comedy without social commentary, Bear is a follow up but also stands alone as its own piece. “Because I tend to play things fairly straight and never set things up like it’s a drama or a comedy, the audience doesn’t know what it’s going to be, and something about that really works,” says Edgerton.

  • Nominated for Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival

Duration: 08:55

Still from Quadrangle


Dir: Amy Grappell
United States – 2010

An examination of a four-way affair, this documentary explores the story of two “conventional” couples who swap partners and live in a group marriage in the early 1970s. Set in Long Island, New York, this domestic living experiment unravels and challenges the boundaries of social convention, marriage, monogamy and desire. “Inspired by the discovery of my father’s photographs, taken at the height of the poly-amorous affair, and in an effort to come to terms with my own past, I decided to interview my parents. The film does not propose answers and strives to remain objective. It explores two people in a certain time. It tells a story,” says Grappell.

  • Honorable Mention for Short Filmmaking Award at Sundance Film Festival

Duration: 19:00

Still from The Arm


Dir: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis
United States – 2012

Directed and written by a female trio, “The Arm” tells an up-to-the minute social commentary on teen love in a time of technology. Written over the course of three hours on a Greyhound bus from Dallas to Austin, this short centres upon two main characters, Chance and Genevieve, who start a texting relationship only to realize they were never in a relationship at all.

  • Special Jury Award for Comedic Storytelling at Sundance Film Festival

Duration: 9:00

Still from Love You More


Dir: Sam Taylor-Wood
United Kingdom – 2007

Inspired by the hit song “Love You More” by the Buzzcocks, this short is the tale of two punk lovers, Georgia and Peter, in 1978 London. Tender and explorative, this short film directorial debut by Taylor-Wood (Nowhere Boy) was written by Oscar nominee Patrick Marber and produced by Oscar winner Anthony Minghella.

  • Nominated for BAFTA (UK) Award
  • Nominated for Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival

Duration: 15:00

Still from To Die By Your Side

TO DIE BY YOUR SIDE (Mourir auprès de toi)

Dir: Spike Jonze and Simon Cahn
France – 2011

Created from 3,000 hand-cut pieces of felt, Jonze’s tragicomic stop-motion animation takes place in an old Parisian bookshop (the famous Shakespeare and Company) where at night the covers come to life. It’s the story of a felt skeleton who falls in love with a beautiful and sassy vixen. Co-directed by filmmaker Simon Cahn with designs by Olympia Le-Tan, this short is sweet, sad, spooky and a bit whimsical. Jonze says, “A short is like a sketch. You can have an idea or a feeling and just go and do it.”

Duration: 7:00

Still from The Man Without a Head
THE MAN WITHOUT A HEAD (L’homme sans tête)

Dir: Juan Solanas
France – 2003

Created over 4 years, Solanas’ short debut is the story of a man who lives alone, head-less, in a room overlooking a vast industrial space. Visually astounding and technically accomplished, this animated short reveals love and happiness and one man’s pursuit of romance amidst life without a head. “We’re living in a period where cinema is a product; movies are becoming more and more commercialized. Short films are one of the last real places for artistic freedom – they’re important to celebrate just for that,” says Solanas.

  • Winner of the Jury Prize for Best Short Film at the Cannes Film Festival
  • Cesar Award (France) for Best Short Film

Duration: 18:00

Still from Venus


Dir: Tor Fruergaard
Denmark – 2010

Venus is an erotic comedy in claymation about rediscovering one another and finding the spark where you least expect it. An official selection of the Los Angeles and Annecy Animation Festivals, among others, Venus tells the story of Caroline and Rasmus, a confused couple who’ve not had sex in four months. To solve this, they decide to visit a swingers’ club to see if it might salvage their relationship.

  • Grand Jury Sparky Award at the 2012 Slamdance Film Festival

Duration: 7:00

Still from Trotteur


Dirs: Arnaud Brisebois, Francis Leclerc
Canada – 2010

A metaphor of adversity, an infernal race against a merciless adversary. A duel to settle between a young man and a locomotive.

  • Canada’s Top Ten 2011
  • Best Canadian Short at the Edmonton International Film Festival

Duration: 8:40

We screen at the NFB Mediatheque (150 John Street) on Friday April 13, 2012 at 7pm. Grab your tickets now!