Far Out Isn’t Far Enough: The Tomi Ungerer Story
By BOYD VAN HOEIJ
A Corner of the Cave Media presentation and production. (International sales: Le Pacte, Paris.) Produced by Brad Bernstein. Executive producers, Chris Laine, Kevin Rich. Co-executive producers, Erik Neandross, Eric Rosee, Reza Taleghani. Co-producer, Rick Cikowski. Directed, written by Brad Bernstein.
With: Tomi Ungerer, Maurice Sendak, Jules Feiffer, Steven Heller, Michael Patrick Hearn, Aria Ungerer, Patrick Skene Catling, Burton Pike, Patrick Joseph Sheehan, Caroline Ward, Therese Willer. (English, French dialogue)
The colorful personality and heterogeneous body of work of French-born illustrator-author Tomi Ungerer is vividly brought to life in docu “Far Out Isn’t Far Enough.” Helmer Brad Bernstein, who has a background in nonfiction TV production, here brings a clearly cinematic sensibility to his account of Ungerer’s youth and initial success as an author of such children’s books as “The Three Robbers,” and the artist’s subsequent parallel career in adult-targeted fare, including Vietnam-era protest posters and top-drawer erotica. Already in heavy fest rotation, the pic should also travel far and wide in smallscreen formats.
Main interviewee Ungerer was born in Alsace in 1931, and his childhood wartime experiences go some way toward explaining his unique sensibility and current pro-Europe advocacy work. Alternating inventive animated sequences and talking heads, including the late Maurice Sendak, “Far Out” paints a chronological picture of Ungerer’s often contradictory-seeming career, which really took off in 1950s New York. Along the way, Bernstein succeeds in sketching a detailed portrait of his strong-willed, outspoken (in three languages) and occasionally hilarious subject, who suggests fear is a great motivator, even for kids. Tech credits are impeccable.
Camera (color, HD), Jim O’Donnell; editors, Rick Cikowski, Jason Schmidt; music, Daragh Dukes, Eoin Coughlan, Ben Sollee, sound (Dolby SRD), Jack Norflus; animation supervisor, Brandon Dumlao. Reviewed at Le Saint-Germain-des-Pres, Paris, Oct. 25, 2012. (In Toronto, Rome, Doc NYC, Deauville American, Warsaw, Mar del Plata film festivals.)