Letter to a Pig
AHolocaust survivor reads a letter he wrote to the pig who saved his life in Tal Kantor’s evocative new short.“The film is based on my personal experience as a young schoolgirl,” says the director, whose previous work includes In Other Words and Under the Small Sun. “It’s based on a memorable encounter I had with a Holocaust survivor many years ago, and an unforgettable dream that followed which revealed deep questions about my identity and about the dark baggage I subconsciously carry. That dream stayed with me all those years and eventually became an urge to create this film.” According to Kantor, the filmmaking journey for this short goes back to the Annecy MIFA Pitches about five years ago, when she pitched the concept and received a production grant and residency from Ciclic Animation in France. The project (produced by France’s Miyu and Israel’s The Hive Studio) took about four years to make. The animation was done using TVPaint, combined with traditional animation on paper. Including the development and pre-production teams, the actors, the animators and the production and post-production teams, over 35 people worked on the short. “Each one of them gave their heart and talent to make the complex production process,” she notes.
Kantor, who picks titles such as When the Day Breaks, Cat Soup, The Triplets of Belleville, Mind Game, The Boy and the World and Spirited Away as some of her all-time favorites, says she is quite pleased with the amazing team she discovered as she set out to make her short. She adds, “More than the uncompromising result that was finally created, I am pleased with the (complex yet beautiful) process of making the film, which has been one of the most significant journeys of my life so far.”
She also mentions that the most challenging parts of the process were the development and writing phases. “These are the foundations on which the entire film is based, and when dealing with such a big and heavy subject, much precision, sensitivity and research work were required, which took me quite a bit of time and mental resources,” Kantor explains.
The director says Letter to a Pig examines several questions that preoccupy her. such as the role that historical narratives play in shaping the identities of future generations. “How do we perceive the reality around us, and how do these stories influence and build our moral-ethical perspective on the world?” she explains. “I hope the film will lead to inner reflections on behalf of the viewer — each in their own way. Above everything else, I hope they take away with them the message of compassion.”