Russian cartoon competing for Oscars | Film | DW | 26.02.2016
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Russian cartoon competing for Oscars

Two cosmonauts and their love for space: This is the story of "We Can't Live Without Cosmos". The Russian cartoon by Konstantin Bronzit is a nominee for the Oscars.

With quick, experienced strokes Konstantin Bronzit draws his two heroes on thin transparent paper. Two heads - one square, the other one round and big bodies. There is a stack of paper on Bronzit's desk. The drawings on each look similar. They only differ in small details. Flipping through the papers, the characters come to life: Suddenly, an arm moves or facial features change. Bronzit has been fascinated by this as long as he can remember.

"Even at school, when everyone would be outside playing football, I would sit inside and draw flipbooks," the 50-year-old tells DW. "I had no choice, it was as if someone had told me: Become an animated filmmaker - so I became one!"

Russian cartoon We cannot Live Without Cosmos Copyright: Melnitsa Animation

In the missile, there's only room for one.

Oscar nominee

The two grinning figures on the drawing desk could be the beginning of something new in Konstantin Bronzit's life. His film "We Can't Live Without Cosmos" is nominated for the Oscars in the category "Best Animated Short Film". The movie shows the lives of two fellow cosmonauts. Together they manage the tests in training camp and share a room. The drawing style is simple, not abstract or experimental - it's reminiscent of a simple cartoon for kids. Bronzit's humor is also childlike, sometimes almost silly.

The cartoon has a serious part as well: In the missile, there's only room for one.

Bronzit worked on his short film for four years. The idea for the script of the film came to him in his sleep. "I saw an image in a dream. I will not say it was mystical, but it was a mystery. When I woke up I had the complete story within five minutes."

When Bronzit wakes up on February 29th, he will know whether he has received the most coveted film prize in the world for this inspiration. But will the Oscar have an affect on the animator's life? "Not much," he laughs. "For an actor in Hollywood an Oscar changes everything: they become popular and their salaries increase. This is not the case for an animator. That has to do with the job."

Second nomination

Russian cartoon We cannot Live Without Cosmos Copyright: Melnitsa Animation

Bronzit's "Lavatory Love Story" had been nominated for an Oscar in 2009

Nevertheless, the award would mean a lot to him. The nomination alone is already an acknowledgment of his work. And it is already his second nomination. In 2009, Bronzit was nominated for his short film "Lavatory Love Story". The film tells the story of a lonely cleaning lady and her search for a mysterious admirer. Almost completely drawn in black and white and with simple strokes, the film was highly praised by critics. The Oscar, however, went to a Japanese short film.

Back then, Bronzit had already made himself a name in Russia. He heads the Trickfilmstudio Melnitsa animation which, with 250 employees, is one of the largest in Russia. The cartoons drawn here are very successful, some are even blockbusters.

Of course, this cannot be taken for granted. Because the movies have tough competition from huge companies like the Disney subsidiary Pixar, which dominates the market for animated films with well over a thousand employees, the best technology and the largest budgets. "These companies have the best artists and the best technicians in the world. They would have to make a lot of mistakes to not make good movies. But it makes it difficult for us to keep up with it."

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