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Yoram Gross on making Australian films for children

By ACMI, 2009 2:26 minutes

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When Yoram Gross and his wife, Sandra Gross, migrated to Australia they realised there were no Australian films for children, so decided to fill this gap. The feature animation Dot and the Kangaroo is based on a 19th century children’s book about a little girl and a kangaroo. Yoram Gross imported an image projector that allowed him to place the animated story against a live action background of the Australian bush. Dot and the Kangaroo had a very limited cinema release, so Yoram Gross decided to hire a team of projectionists and tour the film around the country, screening it in both big cities and small country towns. Dot and the Kangaroo was the first of many Yoram Gross films that took the Australian landscape and Australian themes as their subject.

Collection Screen Worlds

Discussion Points

Sandra Gross comments that she and Yoram were particularly interested in Australian themes because they were newcomers to the country.

  •  Why might an immigrant have a stronger awareness of and interest in Australian themes?
  • Yoram Gross’s animations celebrate the Australian bush and landscape in a unique way by using a live action setting underneath drawn animation. Go to Australian Screen Online to view clips from Dot and the Kangaroo.
  • Yoram Gross’s animated films have been very successful internationally. Why do these very Australian stories appeal to children around the world?

Yoram Gross acknowledges that the animation style he pioneered in Australian children’s films has been superseded by the digital animation technologies available today. However, the look of Gross’s animations is distinctive and offers a freshness and simplicity that can be lost in the more complex visual world of CGI (computer-generated imagery).

Of new animation technology, Gross has commented that “for the children, the importance is the story, not whether it’s 3D or 2D or 1D” (Burchall, 2007).

  • Can you name and describe a recent animated film that failed to provide a good story?
  • Happy Feet director, George Miller, says that when making digital animation filmmakers must not “let the technique get in the way of the humanity”. What do you think he means by this?