Venice winners explore the boundaries of animation

PROFILE. Michelle and Uri Kranot won the top prize at Venice Film Festival for their virtual reality project 'The Hangman at Home'. Throughout the past decade, the artist couple have been exploring the boundaries of animation with their unique visual style and poetic sensibility.

What does the hangman do when returning home at night? This question is explored in Michelle and Uri Kranot's latest project, the installation 'The Hangman at Home', winner of the Grand Jury Prize for Best VR Immersive Work at the Venice Film Festival among 31 other entries.

The project displays the artists' distinct visual style, melting together painting, drawing and technological innovations in an exploration of themes such as the awkward intimacy of humanness. We are led through five interwoven stories that each present a person or several persons in a delicate moment: fragile, playful, terrified, contemplated, confused and curious. Moments that show how alike we all really are while alerting us to question our own responsibility and responses.

Uri Kranot receiving the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival 2020 for his and Michelle Kranot's immersive VR experience 'The Hangman at Home'. Photo: Late Love Production

The artist couple Michelle and Uri Kranot have made a name for themselves with their award-winning animated shorts and virtual reality installations, mixing hand-painted frame-by-frame acrylic animation with technological experiments and new formats. 

For the past seven years, the Israeli couple have been residing in Denmark where they teach at the Animation Workshop's ANIDOX programme, a development lab and creative platform for animated documentary projects.

'The Hangman at Home – VR' is part of a multi-media project with three distinct outputs. In addition to the immersive experience awarded in Venice, the artists are preparing an animated short planned for 2021, also entitled 'The Hangman at Home', and a scaled VR installation for larger venues and audiences, 'We Are at Home'.

A poetic sensibility and fragmented narratives exploring past and present, fact and fiction, characterise the work of the duo. Other prominent titles include 'Nothing Happens' from 2017, which was also created as both a VR installation and a 2D animated short. The project competed at Annecy and Venice Film Festival. Their short film 'How Long, Not Long' from 2016 also competed at Annecy, winning the FIPRESCI prize. Their previous short 'Hollow Land' from 2013 was on the Oscar shortlist for best short animation.