Yoram Gross dies

September 29, 2015 by Roz Tarszisz
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Animated film maker ​Yoram Gross has died aged 88.  He brought beloved Australian children’s books Dot and the Kangaroo and Blinky Bill to life on the screen.

Born in Krakow, Gross survived the war on the run in Poland. After the war he studied film at the Polish Film Institute. When life became difficult he went to Israel becoming a cinematographer in the army. He and his wife Sandra came to Australia in 1968 and developed their production house, Yoram Gross Studios.

Yoram Gross

Yoram Gross

In a moving obituary in Screen ArtsHub, David Tiley writes that the studio was the key company which trained younger animators.

“Yoram and Sandra Gross created a thoroughly commercial success. Beyond the nuts and bolts of an international enterprise, they used a kangaroo and a koala to create a pair of iconic Australian characters, which are part of our visual culture.

Their energy has something to do with a continuing passion for hand-crafted production, even as they built a factory to make art. They funded the Yoram Gross Animation Prize at the Sydney Film Festival, which honours short filmmakers, and affirms them at crucial times in their careers” writes Tiley.

Deborah Szapiro, independent animator and animation academic, understands the impact of that success on the production community. ‘He was incredibly important.  People had jobs week in, week out, and year in, year out.”

“Even though he was not born in Australia, he decided you can take Australian characters and landscape, and put them on a world stage – which was an incredible thing to do at the time“ said Szapiro.

“He really embraced Australia and showed it to our children, and showed us a place we didn’t quite see. Looking at a landscape and seeing the beauty in it was a phenomenal shot in the arm, in terms of our self-esteem.  It takes an outlier like Yoram to show us what we have.

“At the same time, he brought this incredibly rich storytelling tradition from Eastern Europe, both light and dark. The fact that he could find that light, and show it to us, is to our benefit” she said.

Yoram Gross:

Born: October 18, 1926, Kraków, Poland
Died: September 21, 2015, Sydney

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