From a Mystery storyline to interpretations of Van Gogh’s iconic masterpieces, there’s plenty to like about the first fully painted film, Loving Vincent

When Hugh Welchman and Dorota Kobiela began work on their landmark, fully painted feature film telling the story of Vincent van Gogh, they decided to stick to the facts rather than play with the history.

Fortunately for the co- writer-and-director team, the fascinating storyline negated the need for embellishment, while also helping to make Loving Vincent riveting viewing.

“We had a larger-than-life hero who achieved something like rock star status and a cracking crime plot as well,” Welchman, director of Breakthru Productions which co-produced the film, tells Selections.

Launched in September and having now premiered worldwide, Loving Vincent tells the story of Van Gogh through an animated film of paintings produced by over 100 artists, who worked from footage and sittings of real actors. All the shots were hand-painted in oil on canvas, the medium also used by Van Gogh.

Welchman, explains that Kobiela, a trained artist herself, first planned to make a short film as a way of combining her work in film and animation with her passion for painting. As the project evolved, the team spent years meticulously researching the iconic Dutch artist, poring over his letters, making countless visits to museums and training the participating artists.

Van Gogh proved to be the ideal subject for the milestone film in many ways. “He was unusual in that he painted the world around him, such as the view from his house, the postman and even his shoes,” Welchman says. “He also reimagined the work of other painters, which made him a great subject for us.”

Audiences agreed; the film received a standing ovation of over 11 minutes at its premier, has won several awards and holds a 77% approval rating on film review aggregation website, Rotten Tomatoes.

In what must be a case of life imitating art, Kobiela and Welchman fell in love while working on Loving Vincent and are now married. Their thoughts have also now turned to a second project. “We’d love to paint another film, having spent years setting up a pipeline,” Welchman tells Selections. “We’re thinking of doing a painted horror film based on the paintings of Goya.”

Loving Vincent in numbers

7: The number of years it took to bring the film to fruition
29: Dorota Kobiela’s age when she began working on the project and Vincent Van Gogh’s estimated age when he began painting
100+: The number of artists that painted for the film
65,000: The number of oil on canvas paintings used to make the film
11.5: The standing ovation (in minutes) at the premier of Loving Vincent