Interview with Nils Knoblich, Director of From Dad To Son

After being screened at the Aesthetica Short Film Festival (ASFF) 2012, the papercraft animation short From Dad To Son is now released online giving more people the opportunity to watch this cleverly crafted film. From Dad To Son impressed audiences with its unique approach to hand-crafted animation; it has been screened at more than 130 film festivals worldwide and has been awarded 12 festival prizes. Directors Nils Knoblich & Stephan Hanf aim to create a film where the story can be understood by an international audience, regardless of language or origin. We speak to Knoblich about their practice and inspiration.

A: Your film From Dad To Son has been screened at a number of festivals around the world, including ASFF 2012. What has been your experience of being part of film festivals?
The audience’s reactions at the film festivals are different from country to country. Some countries are quiet and shy; others are loud and outgoing. In China the festival handed out instructions to the audience (it was a huge open air screening with thousands of visitors). The instructions said “Be neatly dressed to show your respect to art“. The most exciting moment is to see the moment when people realise the solution in our story – you can literally hear the “click” in people’s brains.

A: How do you hope audiences will respond to your film, From Dad To Son?
They should go home and help their parents – even if it’s just a phone call or a letter. Getting old is not easy.

A: How do you create your animations?
NB: For From Dad To Son we cut out hundreds of paper sheets. This needs very calms hands and patience. Luckily the talented Florian Maubach and Olga Gelwer and some others helped me, because often I don’t have the patience. But it was a good experience not to sit in front of a computer the whole day; instead, we were in a dark studio for the whole winter, playing with paper puppets.

A: Which filmmakers have influenced you and why?
Matt Groening has been a major influence for me. Also the following filmmakers have inspired my practice: Johannes Nyholm, Christy Karacas, Emma de Swaef, Quentin Dupieux, Sasha Danylenko, Daniel von Bothmer, Mihkel Reha, Krisitan Holm, Stefan Vogt, Peter Budinsky and Joni Männistö. They are true filmmakers. There’s nothing better than watching their films in the theatrical setting of a cinema.

A: From Dad To Son is now available online. How do you feel that online and social media can aid the exposure and success of your film?
It’s great to get instant feedback from people sitting on the other side of the planet. It’s also fun checking the reactions every few hours. I see “Xyz liked your video 20 seconds ago“. I ask myself, is he or she in the office at the moment – pretending to work? Or at home having breakfast? Or tending sheep in the mountains and starring at the smartphone? It’s the digital revolution and the potential of that for films is really exciting.

Nils Knoblich & Stephan Hanf, From Dad To Son (2012). Animation category of ASFF 2012. View the programme.

Watch the film here via YouTube.

ASFF 2014 is now open for entries. For a chance to win screening at ASFF (6 – 9 November 2014), cash prizes and awards, editorial coverage in Aesthetica Magazine and online as well as many more prizes, enter your short films by 31 May 2014. For more information and to enter visit

1. Nils Knoblich & Stephan Hanf, From Dad To Son (2012).