Today we go back to Belarus––they have more to offer than Lukashenko. Belorusian animation was similarly difficult to find. What helped me the most was Niffiwan's uploads on YouTube and his corresponding LiveJournal blog. Most of Niffiwan's posts and uploads are Russian, but a point he makes in this post is that Belorusians don't consider themselves separate from Russians. This may be the case, but I'm going to be a stickler anyway because there is way more Russian animation available.
I want to start the post by promoting Niffiwan to readers who have an interest in CEE/Soviet animation because he is the man to reference. He's written on Russian, Moldovan, Belorusian, and Uzbek animation, to name a few. He does many of the translations himself and does his own animation as well. His articles are worth reading, even though the process of combing through LJ's horrendous archive structure is a bit tedious. He even created a Wiki page to keep track of what Russian animations have been translated in English. He's clearly involved and active in that community and I fully support such enthusiasm! After watching some of his videos and reading through his blog, I am even more convinced I need to learn a Slavic language STAT. I thoroughly enjoyed browsing his blog, so I suggest you do too.
Niffiwan's post about Belorusian films was helpful. I found the videos first (on Niffiwan's channel) and linked back to this page, but it's still a great post. The first animation I came across was Forest Tales, which was directed by Yelena Petkevich. The animation is done with sand, which automatically made me think of this amazing example of using sand. I can only appreciate the amount of work that would go into such art and the detail in Forest Tales is phenomenal. The shape shifting was even more fantastic and it added that surrealist element that I've noticed in several animations. The piece is in two parts, but I will embed the first and link the second:
Another animation of note is The Tale of the Blue Cloak (1997) with Yelena Turova, which is a pretty standard fairy tale. Magic, trickery, and a contest to win the princess' hand in marriage. I liked it, especially because it was clear at the end that the princess was really in charge. Don't you love it when self-assured women fall in love with dopey men?
The last animation I found was There Lived A Tree by Vladimir Petkevich. His wife is the aforementioned Yelena Petkevich. This and Forest Tales were done at about the same time and there were some pretty similar themes and motifs (nature being among them). There Lived A Tree struck me as a way sadder version without a child searching for answers to ontological questions. It's a very poetic portrayal of how life goes; the questions are left for the viewer to ask. Click on the CC button to get a translation of the song towards the end of the animation.
I hope you enjoyed the short foray into Belorusian animations! Tomorrow Ukrainian animations will be discovered.
[Correction: Niffiwan did not interview Norshteyn, but had mutual acquaintances]