DIRECTOR, PRODUCTION DESIGNER, CO-WRITER
Jan Balej (1958, Prague) is an animation artist, film director, designer, illustrator and scriptwriter. He graduated from the Academy of Art and Industrial Design (UMPRUM) in 1988. Author of imaginative puppet films, who follows the great tradition of Czech manual puppet animation. However, he shifts its aesthetics, and in his latest film, he has succeeded to marry the classical animation with computer generated imagery. He repeatedly focuses on making bedtime stories (Tom the Thumb, 1994; The Doings of the Hippos, 2000; Charlie the Goldfish, 2010), but is also interested in making film for other ages. His version of the famous Jan Werich fairy tale (Sea, Uncle, Why is it Salty?), included in the episodic film Fimfárum 2 (2006) scored great success, but in particular it was the playful, fantasy film One Night in One City (2007 – Czech Lion award for artistic achievement) that made him famous. Balej is a type of an author – creator whose art designs are characterized by strong stylization, expressive sense of hyperbole and bizarre nature. In 1990 he co-founded the Hafan Film Praha studio focused on the making of puppet films.