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Michał Łubiński, the winner of Animarkt Pitching Forum 2018, is now in production with his Astra puppet film.

Director Michał Łubiński, made his first independent, awarded film "Bed Side Story" as a puppet animation and now uses this technique again. What is instantly visible in stop-motion is the reality of the presented micro-world. He now presents his new puppet animation project, Astra: A 6-years old girl flies into space to save a sister!

The universal story about sisterly love and the inevitable difficulty of life starts when Astra tries to stop Anna from participation in the dangerous mission. Yet nothing will stop her from going to outer space when Anna needs her help.

The shooting of a new puppet animation Astra began in early May this year in the Audiovisual Technology Center in Wroclaw, Poland. The title character will be accompanied by five other heroes, created in the puppet studio in Łódź.

The set was built, lit with real light, and the characters are puppets in clothes made of real materials. We can almost touch them, we know these textures. We feel the physicality of the world, which I consider to be one of the key elements of engaging the viewer in this story. Stop-motion animation also has a kind of nobility. Any apparent imperfection is easier to forgive and even sincerely love - Michał Łubiński

Puppets for the film were made by Lodz-based artists, who are accountable for the success of the Oscar-winning animated film Suzie Templeton - "Peter and the Wolf" and collaborated on Wes Anderson's Isle of Dogs. The team consisting of Piotr Knabe, Dariusz Kalita, Agnieszka Mikołajczyk and Agnieszka Smolarek, was responsible for building the bodies of the characters. Then, costumers Beata Jarmuż-Socha and Anna Szcześniak took care of miniature outfits.

Bartosz Kotarski animator on the Astra set

Lodz is known to the world for all the extraordinary specialists creating animation puppets. “The “Astra” project has brought together six renowned and experienced creators who worked on each of the puppets for four to six weeks - Katarzyna Gromadzka, MOMAKIN, the film's executive producer

\The characters for the film Astra were created from a scratch,  from the director's original drawings. Later, an executive design was developed, according to which the animation puppets were created that can be used in as many takes as possible. In the process of creating the heads of Astra and Anna puppets, 3D technology was used to print facial expressions replacements, attached to small magnets, thanks to which the protagonists of the film will have very rich mimics.

Anna Polińska on the Astra set

As many as 40 replacement jaws and 21 foreheads for the main character as well as 22 replacement jaws and foreheads for her sister were created. In addition, Astra has a copy, so that both can play their roles on parallel sets. Together, on set with the little girl, we will see puppets of the Father, Anna, a Scientist, Intern and a friend of the main character - a Goldfish.

Astra won main prize in Pitching at ANIMARKT Stop Motion Forum 2018 (read the jury statement). The producer of the film is the Audiovisual Technology Center (Centrum Technologii Audiowizualnych CeTA) in Wroclaw, where also set design and props were made. The film was co-financed by the Polish Film Institute. The premiere is planned for the first half of 2022.

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