How can the flames of desire be rekindled after 25 years of married life? Izabela Plucińska's erotic comedy, made entirely through the use of modelling clay, delves into the private lives of Alice and Henry, a couple in their fifties numbed by routine, who are holed up in a rococo-kitsch hotel room… With Sexy Laundry, Izabela Plucińska invites us to an amusing and touching closed-door session on tenderness. How do you overcome monotony to reconnect with the one you love? How do you keep sexual attraction alive and well when you think you know your significant other inside out? The answer is simple: just never stop marveling at the everyday things your partner does.
Born in Poland and currently living in Germany, Izabela Plucińska has some thirty films to her credit. She studied art and film and now brilliantly combines her talents to create animated works. In 2005, her short Jam Session won a Silver Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival. Since then, this gifted filmmaker has enjoyed a steady stream of projects and successes. Her politically and philosophically oriented medium-length film Esterhazy was screened around the world in 2009, including in England, France, Finland, Hungary and Mexico, garnering a number of awards.
At the moment, Plucińska, a Berliner by adoption, is busily working at her own production company, Clay Traces, along with her associates. Owing to her renown as an artist, she frequently leads workshops and teaches film animation at universities internationally. Several exhibitions have featured her work. Now she's back with Sexy Laundry, her latest film, inspired by a hit Canadian play.
Robert Kern was born in Dresden in 1984 and joined Clay Traces and Izabela Plucińska in 2008 for Esterhazy. Having studied media management at Mittweida from 2005 to 2009, his work profile quickly expanded from compositing and post-production to managing production technology, public relations and logistics. In 2009 he replaced Jamila Wenske as producer for Clay Traces and since then produced amongst others Josette and her Daddy, Darling and Sexy Laundry.High-resolution photo
Paulina Ratajczak is the President of the Las Sztuki Foundation, a non-governmental organization that produces innovative cultural events in Szczecin, Poland. She is also one of the curators at the TWORZĘ SIĘ art gallery for youth and children, which she co-manages with cultural institution 13 muz. She and her foundation have partnered with and co-organized many important art festivals in Poland's West Pomerania Province, including the INSPIRACJE International Visual Art Festival and digital_ia, a festival of digital art. The animated short film Sexy Laundry, directed by Izabela Plucińska, is her debut as a producer.High-resolution photo
Marc Bertrand joined the French Animation Studio as a producer in 1998 and has since produced more than 100 films, including such notable successes as the award-winning series Science Please! (2001), and Noël Noël (2003) by Nicola Lemay, which won Gémeaux Awards for Best Animated Series or Film in 2002 and 2004 respectively. He also co-produced with Marcel Jean the Norman McLaren Master's Edition (2006), an award-winning DVD box set featuring digitally restored masterpieces by McLaren, a pioneer in the fusion of music and animation. Bertrand's interest in new technology has led him to become involved in working on 3D films. In 2008, he coproduced Facing Champlain: A Work in 3 Dimensions, directed by Jean-François Pouliot, and produced Private Eyes, a new 3D film by Nicola Lemay. Among his other productions are acclaimed films such as Imprints (2004) by Jacques Drouin and works by Theodore Ushev: Tower Bawher (2006), Drux Flux (2009) and Lipsett Diaries (2010), winner of a Genie for Best Animated Short and a Special Mention at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. Bertrand has worked on numerous productions, including the Studio GDS/NFB co-production Romance (2011) by renowned Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel, winner of the 2012 Genie Award. In 2011, he produced Sunday/Dimanche (2011) by Patrick Doyon, which earned an Oscar® nomination and won the 2012 Jutra Award for Best Animated Film. In 2013, Marc became an AMPAS (Academy of Motion Picture, Arts and Sciences) member and completed the co-production Hollow Land (Michèle and Uri Kranot) and Gloria Victoria (T. Ushev), which won the FIPRESCI award in Annecy 2013. In 2014, it was another of Marc's production, No fish where to go, that received the same honor. The same year, the film Jutra (Marie-Josée St-Pierre, a co-production with MJSP Film) was selected at the Fortnight of directors in Cannes and in February 2015 won a Jutra and a Canadian Screen Award for best short animated film.High-resolution photo
I have a Fine Arts academic background and I used to work on sculptural projects. I first started doing puppet animation using claytone. This medium requires more water and is difficult to work with. Regular clay, or Plasticine, is a lot easier to work with. I've been working with clay since 1999; I use this medium exclusively for my movies. It gives me all the freedom I need to create everything. I use clay for 3D elements and I even use it as paint to create my backgrounds. Everything is made from clay.
I've done screen adaptations of four plays and two books. It's surprising, but I keep coming back to the same subject: relationship conflicts, misunderstandings, and the solitude that brings to the characters. It's a subject that speaks very strongly to me. It's difficult to transpose those emotions onto my characters, and it's that challenge that helps me push my limits further. With Sexy Laundry I'm working on a comedy for the first time. I can make mistakes and change my mind while animating―the possibilities are endless. Giving life to my characters and giving them a personality is a continuous learning process.
I had to work differently for Sexy Laundry. Because it's an adaptation of a play, I had to carefully choose which parts of the story to keep and still be able to have a funny, surprising and emotional 12-minute script. There's a lot of dialogue in this movie, so I worked more closely than usual with my actors. I learned a lot through this project. We also had to use techniques that I'd never tried before for the clay characters. Since I only use clay, the puppets are not rigged with a metal structure inside them. We had to use silicon moulds and bake multiple versions of the same puppets. I had to produce larger versions of Alice and Henry's faces to animate their expressions more precisely and shoot close-ups. The eyes were also an independent part of the face. I had to give teeth to my characters, which was a first for me as well!
It's a gift to me and the team! My last project, Darling, was the story of a woman who lost her memory and couldn't recognize her husband. It was a very emotionally painful and dark script. So after that it was nice to work on a light erotic comedy in clay! I saw the play Sexy Laundry in Szczecin in Poland and I loved it! It was funny, erotic and dramatic at the same time. I thought it was the perfect story to transpose to clay animation. Of course, it was a coincidence that this play was written by a Canadian, Michele Riml. That made it easier for the NFB to come on board the project with me, and I am so lucky they did! I loved working with them.
The backgrounds are quite simple. All the action happens in one hotel room. We incorporated some animations in those backgrounds, because we wanted to echo some of the emotions Alice and Henry are experiencing through the backgrounds. At one point, Henry starts living in a fantasy world. He starts dancing, playing the guitar―his body looks much younger, his hair is longer. The floor tiles start to move and really give an extra dimension to the fantasy he's living. At another point, Alice wears a costume to show Henry she can still be sexy and attractive. Some elements in the wallpaper start to move in a very erotic way, underlying the characters' emotions for that scene. It was an idea a friend gave me, and I think it works very well with that erotic moment!
I think Sexy Laundry provided the perfect opportunity to animate a massage in clay. I really wanted to exaggerate, and I use the technique to go as far as possible. I think the result is quite funny, which was my goal. I wanted to do a drama-comedy and integrate some funny elements in the movie with this simple material. The massage is one of them.
A film by
Based on the stage play by
Based on the stage play by
Music and Sound Design
Pierre Yves Drapeau
Voice and Foley Recording
Animation, Character Design,
Storyboard - Colour
Puppet Casting Molds
Background Design and
Puppets, Props, Backgrounds
© 2015 Clay Traces GbR,
National Film Board of Canada,
Las Sztuki Foundation
The stop-motion animation technique that filmmaker Izabela Plucińska uses is called claymation (a combination of the words "clay" and "animation"). She begins by making all her characters out of clay and then arranges them on a set where they are photographed. Next, she orchestrates the staging with extreme dexterity by carefully changing the position of the figurines before taking another photo. When played back, the speed of the successive images gives viewers the impression of motion.
Clay, the filmmaker's raw material, is a highly malleable substance that she must patiently infuse with the emotions of each of her characters. With perseverance, she can record about ten seconds of film per day. Her at once comical and touching approach sheds new light on a topic that is universal but rarely the focus of traditional films.
Clay Traces was founded in 2006 after the debut film of Izabela Plucińska Jam Session won a Silver Bear at the Berlinale 2005 for best short. Izabela's art is connecting realism and fantasy in her individual way. It's all handmade, sometimes there are fingerprints deliberately left on the lovely characters, adding a sense of craftsmanship to this rare category of stop-motion animation. Clay Traces provides emotional and exciting stories, thoughtfulness and humour. Together with producer Robert Kern, the director Izabela Plucińska created several playful short movies, some deal with loss and death, others with growing old, all leave you with a smile after watching.
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) produces groundbreaking animation at its studios in Montreal and at NFB centres across Canada, as well as via international co-productions with many of the world's leading auteur animators. The NFB is a leader in developing new approaches to stereoscopic 3D animation and animated content for new platforms. The NFB has created over 13,000 productions and won over 5,000 awards, including 14 Canadian Screen Awards, 11 Webbys, 12 Oscars and more than 90 Genies. To access acclaimed NFB content, visit NFB.ca or download its apps for smartphones, tablets and connected TV.
The Las Sztuki Foundation is a non-governmental organization that creates and organizes innovative cultural events and workshops in Szczecin, Poland. The foundation is one of the co-managers of TWORZĘ SIĘ, an art gallery for children and youth. In 2012 and 2013, Las Sztuki produced short films promoting Szczecin and Poland's West Pomerania Province, made during workshops for youth and children. The foundation works with both domestic and foreign institutions and cultural organizations, and is the Polish producer of Izabela Plucińska's animated short film Sexy Laundry.