Karelian-Language Animation

Maria Valeeva

Silhouette stop-motion animation for the benefit of the Karelian language

Created by a team of professionals, headed by Maria Valeeva, a cartoon titled Matku Puudogaspäi Pariižassah (‘Journey from Pudozh to Paris’) is a tribute to a relatively unknown, but exciting story pertaining to the history of Karelia. It recalls the life of merchants and peasants, and chronicles the development of world-famous trades and crafts of Pudozh. The video is based on the true facts and is shot in an engaging manner.

What adds to the unique ambience of the cartoon is a multi-language track which includes Karelian, Pudozh-dialect Russian, English and French. The voicing was performed by professional voice actors as well as Karelian-language native speakers.

The cartoon was made using hand-drawn silhouette stop-motion animation. The selection of this rare classical animation technique contributed to the main idea of the project, that is the preservation, support and reviving of indigenous languages.

Matku Puudogaspäi Pariižassah (‘Journey from Pudozh to Paris’)

The production required extensive research, including consultations with ethnographers and linguists, and multiple technical arrangements, such as the set-up of video and sound recording studios, construction of an animation stand, provision of lighting equipment, etc. The core team consisted of artists, a videographer, an editor and a sound engineer. Some scenes were created during students’ workshops in the Multimediaten animation studio of Petrozavodsk State University.

The cartoon is conquering the Internet

The project team is sure that accessible entertaining educational content can strengthen the prestige of the Karelian language. To reach a wider audience, the Karelian-language cartoon was provided with subtitles in Russian and English, thus, the story can be shared among Karelian-language speakers and learners as well as all short-film fans.

Matku Puudogaspäi Pariižassah has been shown at FUFF 2019, and its festival screenings will continue. During the project implementation, the team has come up with ideas for further application of the cartoon, such as an animation educational course and a Karelian-language colouring book.

Presentations of Matku Puudogaspäi Pariižassah in Petrozavodsk gained interest of the local community. The events were attended not only by native language activists, but also by the general public interested in arts and culture. The viewers confirmed that they would like to see more new animation films on the regional ethnical themes. Thus, the project has become yet another proof of the efficiency of cinema as a medium that can facilitate the conversation with the society on the issue of indigenous language preservation.