The most recent film of the incredibly talented stop motion filmmaker Kirsten Lepore, Move Mountain is a marvel, both from a technical and narrative standpoint, grounded firmly in the wordless story of a girl’s journey to cure her debilitating illness.
From the very first scene of the 10-minute-film – Lepore’s CalArts thesis film for her Masters in Fine Arts – the feeling of Kirsten’s growth as an artist seems quite apparent, a feeling which is further enforced when comparing the animation with some of her her earlier short films, Sweet Dreams and Bottle. Boasting much technical achievement – from the countless trees, streams, and other environmental effects populating each shot, to the small army of characters in the cave-rave sequence starting around 4:42 – Move Mountain seems to also mark a heightening of Kirsten’s technical ambitions and ability. Although one thing that remains consistent – from her earliest work to this film – is Kirsten’s charming and pleasantly naïve artistic voice. Something about it makes each of her films startlingly intimate, charming, and youthful in feel.
In an interview with Booooooom, Lepore mentioned that the film was partially inspired by the song “Colouring of Pigeons” by The Knife, and also by her own struggle with chronic illness. It’s a beautiful film and one that speaks volumes about the nature if illness and the journey to recovery. The film has an interesting aesthetic, as well. One of the scenes I found the most interesting from both a thematic and technical standpoint was the rave scene, which features several puppets created by other CalArts alumni, each of which seem to belong the world of the film in a very unique way. From start to finish, the film took Kirsten two-and-a-half-years to make – practically an epoch when compared to the 9 months it took her to make Sweet Dreams, a short film of almost the same length.
You can go watch the film here and the zany behind-the-scenes film here. If you’re interested in exploring Kirsten’s work further, you can do so by visiting her website, Vimeo, Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook. For an extended behind-the-scenes look into Move Mountain, you can read her interview about the film by KQED. Below are posted some photos of the making-of process for the film.