Crulic, The Path to Beyond

Winner of Crystal Prize for Best Feature at Annecy.
DSG is pleased to announce that „Crulic – The Path to Beyond”, directed by Anca Damian and animated at DSG, won the Crystal Prize for Best Feature at Annecy International Animation Film Festival. It is the first Romanian feature animation to win the prestigious award. It is also an important step for the DSG team, who succeeded to create a powerful and original artwork, raising the bar very high in an almost inexistent Romanian market.

Inspired by the real tragedy of a 33-year-old Romanian who died in a Polish prison while on hunger strike, the film premiered in the international competition of Locarno Film Festival and was also selected in the International Competitions of Namur IFF, Telluride IFF, London BFI, Warsaw IFF, Pusan IFF. Narrated from beyond the grave by its main character (Vlad Ivanov’s warm and ironic voice), the film recounts his life story from family and friends testimonies, official documents, pictures, letters.

Anca Damian wanted to tell this story in an original way and looked for a team that could transfer her ideas in images. Over almost a year, six animators - Dan Panaitescu, Raluca Popa, Dragoş Stefan, Tuliu Oltean and Roxana Benţu – worked on this delicate story, trying to find the best way to express both the sadness and the irony of Damian’s script. After this experience, Dan Panaitescu became a permanent part of the DSG team.

The result is an eclectic, postmodernist visual style that mixes 2D animation, cut-out animation on the computer, motion graphics, stop motion, 3D animation. The backgrounds are also made with different techniques: watercolor, hand drawing over photography, collage, 3D projections. The characters from the traditionally animated scenes, frame by frame, were drawn on paper and then scanned and colored on the computer.
The main concern of the team was to blend these different techniques in a powerful and expressive whole that would be dark, poetic and sometimes amusing.

„Crulic – The Path to Beyond” is a big step for DSG team and for the Romanian animation, who’s been mostly inexistent for the last 20 years. With a limited budget, a small team and in a short period of time, the studio succeeded to create an artwork that draws appreciation; it could be a good example for Romanian animators currently in stand by with their projects. Having this experience, DSG intends to involve more in animated film production and give a boost to local animation market.

„Beautiful artwork and a powerful story are the key elements of animated docu Crulic - The Path to Beyond, recounting the Kafkaesque history of a Romanian man arrested in Poland and abandoned by everyone until his death following a hunger strike in 2008.

Animation is especially appealing, featuring attractive watercolors and lovely washes forming the background to an imaginative use of drawings, cutouts and photos. Even if overloaded at times, the individual frames are beautifully rendered and clear, accompanied by Piotr Dziubek's seamless and understated compositions” - Jay Weisberg, „Variety”

„The film reconstructs his life story from the available evidence, but its animated techniques lift its analysis to a new expressive level. The use of hand drawn images, collage, stop motion, and cut out animation brings subtlety and poetry to a tragic story that is both beautifully written and sensitively visualise” - Peter Hames, BFI London


An apArte Film Production

Director, script, producer: Anca Damian

Co-producer: Arkadiusz Wojnarowski

Animation studio: DSG

Concept: Anca Damian, Dan Panaitescu, Raluca Popa, Dragos Stefan

Animation production manager: Dragos Stefan

Character design and layout: Dan Panaitescu

Backgrounds: Raluca Popa, Dan Panaitescu

Hand drawn 2D animation: Dan Panaitescu

Computer 2D animation: Roxana Bentu, Tuliu Oltean, Dragos Stefan

Computer 3D animation: Tuliu Oltean, Vlad Pascanu, Dragos Stefan, Roxana Bentu

Compositing: Tuliu Oltean, Roxana Bentu, Dragos Stefan, Vlad Pascanu, Dan Panaitescu, Raluca Popa, Andrei Saraliischi

Grading: Dan Panaitescu, Dragos Stefan, Raluca Popa

Voice: Vlad Ivanov, Jamie Sives

Music: Piotr Dziubek

Sound: Piotr Witkowski, Sebastian Wlodarczyk