Signe Baumane: Biography

 

Signe Baumane was born in 1964 in Auce, Latvia, and grew up mostly in Tukums, Latvia, and Sakhalin Island in the Soviet Union's Far East. Her son Haralds was born in 1987. She graduated from Moscow University in 1989 with a B.A. in Philosophy.

In 1989 she started work at Dauka Animation Studio in Riga as an animator and cel painter. She also designed and directed several animated commercials for local TV.

In 1991 she made her debut as scriptwriter, director, and artist with a two-minute animated film, The Witch and the Cow .

From 1991 to 1992 she lived in Moscow, and there illustrated two books, Little Red Riding Hood (Krasnaya Shapochka), and a book of poetry for children by Fred Solianov, The Gilded Rhino . Later in 1993 the Moscow Publishing Company, Album, published a a book of which she was both author and illustrator, The Book of the Tigers (Kniga Tigrov) .

In 1993 she returned to Riga to work on her next film, Tiny Shoes, which was completed in that year and would go on to take the Grand Prix at the International Women's Film Festival in Minsk, 1995.

In 1993 she also worked for the puppet theater, Krumu Ezis, Riga, on the production of Sausage Water, designing puppets, costumes, and sets.

In 1994 she began work on her third film, The Gold of the Tigers, based on the story of her earlier book. Production of the film was completed in 1995.

In 1995 she illustrated the book, Why Angels Drive Scooters, by Stefan Randstrom, published in that year by Litorale Publishers, Helsinki.

In September of 1995 she moved to New York City where, in January 1996, she started work as production manager, color stylist, and cel painter for Bill Plympton's animated feature I Married a Strange Person . The film was completed in the spring of 1997. She subsequently worked on several other Bill Plympton short films: Sex and Violence (1997), The Exciting Life of a Tree (1998), More Sex and Violence (1998), an MTV pilot Helter Shelter (1998), Surprise Cinema (1999), and Eat (2001) and took over production of Bill's newest feature animation Mutant Aliens in the summer of 2000. The film was completed later that year.

In November 1998 she completed her fourth animated film, her first made in America, Love Story, which went to more than 20 film festivals around the world, and received several awards.

In 1999 she finished another film The Threatened One , an animated short and her personal interpretation of a poem by Jorge Luis Borges, part of an international film project featuring visual interpretations of poetry. The film was awarded in several film festivals.

In, 2000 She spent most of the year working with partner Josh Rechnitz on an ambitious 10 minute animated piece Natasha. It was completed in early 2001 and successfully hit the film festival circuit.

In 2001 she worked on animation inserts for a live action feature by Austin Chick, XX/XY and started work on animated pieces for a documentary film about the noted Russian artist Sitnikov by Andrei Zagdanski which was finished in the Spring of 2002.

In early 2002 she completed the animated short Five Fucking Fables . Shortly afterward, she returned to Latvia, where she was given grants by the Film Center Foundation and Culture Capital to make a ten-minute film. The film, Woman, premiered on September 21st in the Latvian Film Festival Arsenals. The same year, her documentary portrait Signe and.... was shot by the recognized Latvian documentary filmmaker Dzintra Geka.

Dentist, her latest film, was created during 2003 and 2004, while she was also working on Bill Plymptn's feature Hair High as a cel painter and camera assistant. Five Infomercials for Dentists, a parody based on the same characters of dentist and patient, accompanied Dentist for festival submissions in early 2005.

Signe has initiated and curated a number of independent animation programs and along with Patrick Smith and Bill Plympton is the organizing core of Square Footage Films, a group of New York independent animators that self-publishes and distributes DVDs of their own work.

Besides doing animation Signe has also worked as an illustrator for children's books at Santillana Publishing House, Puerto Rico. She is also working with McGraw-Hill, illustrating a textbook series for children.

Among her illustration clients is Utne Reader magazine.

In 1999 She received Permanent Resident Card as an Extraordinary Ability Alien.

From 2000 to 2002 she taught animation at Pratt Institute, and is periodically publishing parts of a novel about her adventures in New York in Una, a Latvian women's magazine.

She is a 2005 Fellow in Film of the New York Foundation for the Arts. In the same year, she received an individual artist grant from The Jerome Foundation, and in May 2005 she became a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences.

 

ETAOIN
February 3, 2004