SUMMARY: A series of moments from the life of Franz Kafka, which build up into a quiet evocation of the man.
WHY IT’S HERE: Polish director Piotr Dumala’s work has often been compared to that of writer Franz Kafka so it took few people by surprise when Dumala chose Kafka as the subject for his 1992 animated short. A dark, brooding and enigmatic work, ‘Franz Kafka’ depicts snatches of scenes from Kafka’s life as told in his diaries, although the result is not, and does not set out to be, a coherent biography. Rather, this is an evocation of the man and his work which is extremely effective in its tonal representation. Dumala used painted plasterboard which he chipped pieces off in order to create the mesmerising visuals. Many viewers, myself included, have found ‘Franz Kafka’ a little punishing at 16 minutes in length but the minimalist action is compensated for by the subtlety of the animation and the unique achievement of the artwork. My favourite moment comes in the opening seconds. We see Dumala’s Kafka sitting, staring out at us but completely motionless. Suddenly he gives a little cough and then leaves. It’s as if we are seeing the man himself step off the pages on which he has been contained for decades.