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Eyeworks: Jonathan Hodgson

This is the forth installation of an ongoing series of articles by Alexander Stewart and Lilli Carré, founders of the Eyeworks Festival of Experimental Animation.

We first found Jonathan Hodgson’s work in a book called Animation Unlimited by Helen Walters, which we would recommend to anyone looking for an introduction to a wide range of experimental animation. Hodgson’s adaptation of a Charles Bukowski story called The Man With The Beautiful Eyes was included on the book’s enclosed DVD, and we were impressed with the beautiful design of the film. It led us to dig up more of his work, and we came across his stunning 1983 film, Nightclub.

Nightclub combines a practiced hand for caricaturing with a slice-of-life narrative of an evening at a nightclub. Hodgson says that the film was based on “sketches made in Liverpool drinking clubs.” The driving new-wave groove (performed by Hodgson himself) gives this film an atmosphere of lust and loneliness, a frenetic sense of drunken abandon, and really nicely captures the sense of a too-late night of drinking, dancing, and carousing at the club. The vivid caricatures throughout are grotesque, pensive, frustrated, jovial – all pitch-perfect. The painting and linework carry a rare and lively rawness. Though obviously a huge labor, as is any animation, this film feels like it must have been a joy to create.

For us, this animation was one of the cornerstones of the first Eyeworks festival, and it is one of a handful of films that we’ve found that perfectly captures what we’re aiming to focus on with the festival.

Jonathan Hodgson, Nightclub, 1983. 6:02.

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