The Isle of Seals
Edmunds Jansons (2014) 6′

Film Title: The Isle of Seals (Roņu sala)
Written, directed and animated by Edmunds Jansons
Animator: Mārtiņš Dūmiņš
Music: Jēkabs Nīmanis
Sound Design: Ģirts Bišs
Producer: Sabīne Andersone
Financial Support: State Culture Capital Fondation

Animation Technique: 2D Computer Animation
Lenght: 6’
Shooting Format: HD
Screening Format: DCP / H.264 / ProRes 422
No dialogues and subtitles
Screen Ratio: 16:9
Colors: B&W
Sound: Stereo
Country of Production: Latvia
Year of Production: 2014


In the middle of a grey sea there is a grey isle. On this grey island grey hunters live. The life is simple and harsh. Seals and hunters live together in a cruel balance. One day, the Photographer arrives to document this everyday life. For him it turns out to be deadly complicated.

Director’s statement

Each film has its own story of how it began. One begins with some sort of event while another with a vivid visual image. “The Isle of Seals” began with a peculiar place and its environment. I was preparing for an exhibition in Tallinn and decided that the central piece would be an animated film. But I couldn’t come up with an idea. I wanted something connected with both countries – Latvia, where I live, and Estonia, where the exhibition took place. Then, as a result of a random conversation, I found myself exploring the church register of Ruhnu Island. Ruhnu Island means “the Isle of Seals” in Estonian.
This island is located in the Baltic Sea, near the Latvian and Estonian border, historically inhabited by Swedish seal hunters. Hunters have lived on the island for centuries – from the very beginning, when the island belonged to the Swedes, and throughout the political changes, when the island was controlled first by Russians, then by Germans and finally by Estonians. This story fascinated me with the indifference with which the indigenous people of the island had responded to all these historical political changes.
Even during the war, when no one bought the fat from the seals they hunted, they continued to live at their usual pace, knowing or perhaps hoping that somehow everything would work out. And it did – several tons of fat accumulated during the war time was bought by the Estonian government, which thus gained the favor of the islanders and began to rule the island. Although the documentary material was the initial impulse behind the work, the film has quite little to do with the real situation on Ruhnu Island. Only the hunters are left in the film, and they continue to do their own thing and live their lives regardless of whatever goes on in the world. The island and its distinctively-thinking inhabitants are just a background for the film. To me, the main character of the film is the photographer. The film is an absurd comedy about a photographer as a media representative with an unstoppable desire to show the world around him inside a frame of preconceptions. In general, it is about the failure of media to record objective reality. To me as an author, this film is also a reflection on animation. I’m still trying to understand what animation is or is not. It is an attempt to explore the language of animation and understand the importance of the story, characters and design in animation. How do you facilitate the viewer’s perception by giving up anything superfluous without crossing the line beyond which simple becomes primitive? In this sense, “The Isle of Seals” is an experimental film to me – a viewer-friendly experi-mental film.


Special Prize of Jury at Sommets du cinéma d’animation, Canada, 2014
The Special Mention by Alexandra Hetmerová at Fest Anča IAF, Slovakia, 2015
The Best Director of Animation Film, NFF “Lielais Kristaps, Latvia, 2015

Selected at:

9th Anim’est IAFF, International Short Competition, Rumania, 2014
Martha’s Vineyard FF, Animation program, USA, 2014
15th Woodstock FF, Animation program, USA, 2014
57th DOK Leipzig, International Programme Animated Film, Germany, 2014
interfilm 30th ISFF, Green Screen Competition, Berlin, Germany, 2014
Sommets du cinéma d’animation, International Competition, Canada, 2014
11th Animateka, Central and East European Competition Program, Slovenia, 2014
Anima 2015, Special Program, Belgium, 2015
9th Tehran IAF, International Competition, Iran, 2015
19th REGARD ISFF, International Competition, Canada, 2015
MONSTRA 2015, International Short Film Competition, Portugal, 2015
17th ISFAF Mecal, Animation Competition, Spain, 2015
Tijdgeest 20/15, Official Selection, The Netherlands, 2015
Australian IAF, Official Selection, Australia, 2015
IFAF Anifilm 06, International Competition of Short Films, Czech Republic, 2015
12th Green FFIS, Green Competition, South Korea, 2015
SICAF, Special Competition – SICAF Choice, South Korea, 2015
5th SF Green FF San Francisco, International Competition,USA, 2015
Annecy 2015, International Competition, France
Melbourne IAF, International Competition, Australia, 2015
8th Fest Anča IAF, International Competition, Slovakia, 2015
Spin & See SEFF, Official Selection, UK, 2015
Supertoon, Official Selection, Croatia, 2015
8th Cyber Sousa Xiamen IAF, International Competition, China, 2015
13th Fantoche, International Competition, Switzerland, 2015
22nd IAFF KROK, International Competition, Russia, 2015
2015 Animacursed Festival, International Competition, Brazil, 2015
4th The Vermont AFF, Official Selection, USA, 2015
11th WFAF Varna 2015, Short Films Competition Program, Bulgaria, 2015
Lielais Kristaps NFF, National Competition, Latvia, 2015
2nd Riga IFF, Official Selection, Latvia, 2015
Québec City FF, International Competition, Official Selection, Canada, 2015
28th Helsinki Intl’ Film Festival – Love & Anarchy, Finland, 2015
20th 2ANNAS RSFF, Baltic Shorts Competition, Latvia, 2015
Equinoxio FF, International Non-competitive Section of Animation, Columbia, 2015
12th BALKANIMA EAFF, International Competition, Serbia, 2015
10th Vilnius ISFF, International Competition, Lithuania, 2015
12th Sedicicorto IFF, Special Program ANIMALAB, Italy, 2015
8th CEEFF “CinEast”, Short animation films marathon, Luxemburg, 2015
34th Uppsala ISF, International Competition, Sweden, 2015
KloosterKino, Festival Program, The Netherlands, 2015
2nd New Chitose Airport IAF, International Panorama, Japan, 2015
29th Leeds IFF, World Animation Competition, UK, 2015
interfilm 31st ISFF, Special Programme Focus Baltic States, Germany, 2015
CINEDAYS IFF, Official Selection, North Macedonia, 2015
34th Oulu ICYFF, Latvian children’s and youth film programme, Finland, 2015
17th Animated Dreams IAFF, International Competition, Estonia, 2015
13th Anilogue IAF, Official Competition, Hungary, 2015
13th Mumia UWAF, Official Selection, Brazil, 2015
Autrans Mountain FF, Animation Film Competition, France, 2015
LIAF 2015, International Competition, 2015
Piccolo Festival of Animazione, Official Selection, Italy, 2015
19th Japan Media Arts Festival, Official Selection, Japan, 2016
Insomnia IFF, Official Selection, Russia, 2016
16th Animix Tel Aviv AIF, Official Selection, Israel, 2016
Royal IFF, 21st Riga IFF 2ANNAS program, Latvia, 2016
3rd Hip Trip Travel FF, Festival selection, Rumania, 2016
ISFF Magma – mostra di cinema breve, International Competition, Italy, 2016
11th RICA Wissembourg Festival, International Competition, France, 2016
XXI International Environmental «Green vision» FF, Festival selection, 2016
Be there! Corfu AF, Special programme, Cyprus (Greece), 2016
Animasyros 10th IAF, Special programme “Evropi: 28 European Animation Narratives”, Greece, 2017
IFF “FNCE – Festival Nuovo Cinema Europa”, Special selection of European short films, Italy, 2017
HIROSHIMA, Special non-competive program “Best of the World”, Japan, 2018
Festival ArtiChouette, Special Program, France, 2018
2ANNAS RISFF, Baltic 100 anniversary program, Latvia, 2018
PÖFF Short Film & Animaiton Festival, Special programme Baltic 100, Estonia, 2018
19ème FIF Insulaire of Groix Island, Non-competitive program, France, 2019
16th Animateka IAFF, Special Focus program, Slovenia, 2019
Tabakalera Art Center Screenings, Family program KAMALEOIAK GARA!, Spain, 2019