A stop-motion ode to Victor Jara

Red Pepper caught up with Louise Emily Thomas, the artist behind a stop-motion animation video for afro-folk-pop group The Melodic's new track 'An Ode to Victor Jara'

October 22, 2013 · 4 min read

How did you get involved in making a video for The Melodic?

I’ve known the members of The Melodic since we met quite randomly in the centre of Marrakech seven years ago and have remained great friends ever since; me and [The Melodic band member] Huw Williams both studied at Leeds University together. Three years ago, when I first heard The Melodic perform ‘Ode to Victor Jara’, I became inspired to create a piece of moving image with the same intent, passion and politics that first brought the band to write and play the song. The sounds and imagery conjured up by the song’s narrative and the eclectic mix of instruments and rhythms sparked a strong vision for how the song could be translated visually.

The idea was then slowly conceived over three years alongside intense periods of model making and research, which finally came to a head over the last month. With a tight deadline, quick intuitive prop-making, strong teamwork, and a two person animating/film crew (with a high-level of perseverance and no first-hand experience) the video was created.

How did you go about researching Victor Jara’s life?

I was lent an old copy of Joan Jara’s ‘Victor: An unfinished Song’ which I found moving and a poignant epilogue to Victor’s life and work. This provided a founding knowledge, which I was able to expand on using online resources, to research Victor’s legacy regarding the group Inti Illimani, Quilapayún and the Nueva Cancion Chilena (New Chilean Song) movement. Watching Patrico Guzman’s films, ‘The Battle of Chile’ and more recent ‘Nostalgia for the Light’, helped in gaining an understanding of the wider historical and political context surrounding Victor, the coup and post-Allende Chile. I collect vast amounts of pictures when collating research for any art project, so the film references images from Inti-Illimani album covers, Chilean protest artwork and slogans, local handicrafts, Andiean sculpture, pattern and folklore as well as landmarks such as the UNESCO costal town of Valparaíso.

Do you think you’ve managed to capture the feel of the Nueva Canción musical tradition of which Victor was part?

One of the main intentions of the Nueva Canción movement was the renewel of folk traditions – something both I and The Melodic believe in too. Through the use of the marionette, old-fashioned toys, recycled materials and fabric, woodcarving and metalwork; Andean as well as European craft is combined and reinvented to portray a political message for a contemporary audience. The Arpilleras, three-dimensional appliqué textiles from Latin America (a basis for the villagers in the film) actually became a political tool for women to speak against Pinochet’s regime. The inclusion of ‘¡El pueblo unido, jamás será vencido!’ (the people, united, will never be defeated!) directly references a widely used slogan and lyric of Quilapayún, a musical ensemble that Victor supported and worked closely with.

What was most inspiring for you about Victor Jara’s life?

Victor had an extensive career in many areas of the arts and social activism, including theatre, dance and music. The idea that practicing creative arts should also involve political conviction is one I’d definitely share with Victor Jara.

Read more on The Melodic and on Louise’s work.


What do we do now? Join us on Monday 16 December at Rich Mix

What do we do now?

After knocking on so many doors, the movement built in support of Jeremy Corbyn needs to stay present particularly where people feel abandoned or under attack

Election 2019: The latest attack on travelling communities

The Conservative manifesto includes yet another attack on Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. We can resist at the polls - and by responding to the public consultation, says Beth Holmes

We stand with Jeremy Corbyn

Letter: We stand with Jeremy Corbyn – just as he always stood with us

Organisations and individuals including Kehinde Andrews, Hanif Kureishi, Ahdaf Soueif, Gillian Slovo, Robert Del Naja and Anish Kapoor urge BAME and migrant communities to vote for Labour


Election 2019: Tackling tech giant tax avoidance

Conrad Bower reports on the main parties’ manifesto promises to address ‘aggressive’ tax avoidance by multinationals like the ‘Silicon Valley Six’

Election 2019: Battle lines drawn in Sheffield Hallam

Sam Gregory of Now Then magazine reports on the candidates vying for votes in a key Lib Dem-Labour marginal

Jo Swinson at the BBC leaders debate

Election 2019: Anti-semitism and phoney solidarity

The faux-concerns from the party’s opponents does little for Jewish people, argues Oscar Leyens


Football’s Race Stain

Racism marred the Manchester derby this weekend. This blemish on the game is an echo of our Prime Minister’s words, says Remi Joseph-Salisbury.

Another World is Possible

Election 2019: The end of neoliberalism in sight?

If elected, the next Labour government can finally depart from the neoliberal consensus and deliver a major shift in wealth and power, argues Adam Peggs

Small change

Simon Hedges shares his famous-on-Twitter analysis of the state of the left today


Election 2019: Transatlantic socialism rising

As Sanders and Corbyn head to the polls, Peter Gowan describes a new spirit of international collaboration on the left

Jeremy Corbyn and front bench holding copies of the 2019 manifesto

Election 2019: An ambitious, agenda-setting and credible manifesto

The 2017 Labour election manifesto was good but the 2019 version is the document we’ve really been waiting for, argues Mike Phipps

Brian Eno: Why I’m backing Labour in Kensington

In 2017, Labour won Kensington by just 20 votes. Brian Eno explains why he's backing Emma Dent Coad in the seat - and why voting Lib Dem is ‘voting Tory without admitting it’


Cartoonist from 1888 depicting John Bull (England) as the octopus of imperialism, grabbing land on every continent. Public Domain.

Election 2019: Education and Empire

Following Labour’s manifesto pledge to educate the public on the histories of empire, slavery, and migration, Kimberly McIntosh explains the dangers of colonial nostalgia in the national curriculum

Support our election writer’s fund

The stakes could not be higher during this election. Help us cover what's really happening