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Artistic genius and fragility intersect in this surreal, Oscar®-winning animation

Widely regarded as a maverick genius of animation, the Canadian artist Ryan Larkin (1943-2007) seemed destined for a successful career after breaking out with the influential short films Walking (1968) and Street Musique (1972). However, addiction and emotional trauma eventually brought his creative life to a halt, leaving him begging for money on the streets of Montreal. This experimental animation from 2004 finds fellow animator Chris Landreth interviewing Larkin about his brief, storied animation career before confronting him about his alcoholism. Rendered in a world where emotional scars manifest themselves as surreal physical aberrations, Ryan is a strange and striking glimpse into Larkin’s life, including the sometimes fraught relationship between creativity and mental health. Ryan won the 2005 Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Following the film’s completion, Larkin revived his animation career before dying from cancer in 2007.

Director: Chris Landreth

Producers: Steven Hoban, Marcy Page, Mark Smith

Website: National Film Board of Canada

15 May 2017

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