Michał Weçel’s “Loving Vincent: The Impossible Dream” is a lively, lightning-paced documentary about the making of Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman’s 2017 “Loving Vincent.” That Oscar-nominated feature, comprised of hand-painted, animated reproductions of Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings, recounts his final years, and his suicide, in Auvers-sur-Oise, France.
Through original interviews with the filmmakers, footage and interviews of the cast and crew during production, and clips from the movie, Weçel skillfully balances the movie’s origin story, which is mainly Kobiela’s, with that of the ongoing drama on a set that employed more than a hundred painter-animators and took many years to complete. At the center of this indie labor of love was Kobiela and Welchman’s actual love-at-first-sight story. It began when Kobiela was hired as a painter on Welchman’s 2011 short, “Magic Piano.”
Excellent technical sequences include graphic illustrations of live actors rendered into brushstrokes, and the shift from 16:9 HD to Academy aspect ratio (1.37:1), necessitated by the shape of Van Gogh’s canvases. Only a small portion of the documentary is devoted to individual painter-animators, which is disappointing, given the unique mix of artistry and technology that distinguishes their work from early 20th century cel animation, for instance. Many of these fine artists were trained in animation to produce the 65,000 original images in the movie. Weçel’s documentary is aimed at broadening the audience for “Loving Vincent,” yet it is also a wonderful tribute to the vision and craft of independent moviemaking.
‘Loving Vincent: The Impossible Dream’
Running time: 59 minutes
Playing: Starts Friday, Ahrya Fine Arts, Beverly Hills