When the world fell to its knees as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, filmmaker Matteo Bernardini was faced with the same boredom and mundane routine that come with being in quarantine. While the rest of us deep cleaned our homes, baked bread, and watched Tiger King, Bernardini took a more artistic route. Being aware he could not rely on casts and crews as he was used to and being confined to his own house, Bernardini decided to let his illustrations do all the acting and his hands do the rest of the work: the final result is a unique product, more of an “illustrations-coming-to-life experience” than a traditional animated series.
Armed exclusively with paper, pens, scissors and glue, Bernardini brought to life his personal interpretation of the 17th century tale by Ludwig Bechstein, The Little Pitchfork Rider, laid out in six episodes. In Bernardini’s version, The Little Broomstick Rider, viewers are transported to Bavaria in the 1620’s where a nine-year-old boy goes on trial for witchcraft, a flabbergasted court must decide the child’s fate.
Half fairy-tale, half-perhaps-a-bit-too-historically-accurate, Bernardini’s passion project has all the magic makings of a Halloween special you had to convince your parents to let you watch after bedtime. The kind of specials you may have watched a little too young.
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Oh, my what an unexpected marvel this was. I never would have guessed an animation running less than 40 minutes would be responsible for such a laundry list of curiosities to adore. Reminiscent of the fever dream of someone who just finished their first reading of The Crucible, The Little Broomstick Rider is chock-full witty banter and whimsical artwork–just some good old fashion escapism at its finest. Bernardini’s art style is a mix of Shel Silverstein and Walter Moers. The writing is playful and intelligent. Its just one of those experiences you can’t really interpret into words. Not if you want to do the work any justice. You just have to see it for yourself. If you are a fan of fantasy, comedy, unsettling illustrations, or any combination of the three, then you won’t want to miss this.
The Little Broomstick Rider will have its world premiere in the Episodes section at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival!