With its bright Mediterranean colours and erotic flavour, Veljko Popović’s short film Cyclists was designed to pay homage to one of Croatia’s greatest artists.

Based on the work of Vasko Lipovac, the short follows two cyclists as they battle for ultimate glory, as well as the heart of the woman they love.  

Born close to the Montenegrin city of Kotor in 1931, Lipovac was a painter, sculptor, designer and illustrator who celebrated the human form, bringing endless energy to stylised, minimalist figures. Cycling featured in much of his work and sculptures, as well as more adult themes.

In a style similar to the Oscar-nominated Loving Vincent, Cyclists puts Lipovac’s unique style at the heart of the film’s visual identity, mirroring the rounded figures and gentle colour scheme from the artist’s models and paintings.

So far the film has won over the critics, snagging the Jury Distinction Award at the 42nd International Animation Festival in Annecy.

“The family of Vasko Lipovac approached us a few years back with the idea of creating a short film based on his works,” editor, producer and director Veljko Popović told The Calvert Journal. 

It was the first time that the team, which took on animators from Estonia, Czechia, Slovakia, France and Croatia, had tackled 2D animation, forcing them to take on “uncharted waters”, Popović said.

“I loved the opportunity to dive into the work of Vasko Lipovac and I think we managed to create an animated film that he would have loved, bringing the still images of Vasko Lipovac to life in a story that embodied his work with our unique creative approach”, he said.

You can check out the (slightly-NSFW) trailer above, or visit the animators' website here

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