This Thursday September 27 at 7pm filmmaker/scholar Laura Ivins and I will present an evening of animated shorts by women filmmakers from around the world at the Indiana University Libraries Screening Room at Herman B. Wells Library on the Bloomington campus. We are really excited about this program and can’t wait to share it with film lovers who are able to join us in person, but we also want to celebrate these films and filmmakers within the broader context of the 4th Annual #DirectedbyWomen Worldwide Film Viewing Party, so I’m sharing glimpses into the work in this blog series including stills, behind the scenes images, teasers/trailers, and—where available—filmmaker responses to a single question…
“Could you please tell us about a moment during the making of your film when you could feel your vision coming together or when you overcame a challenge in a satisfying way?”
This is Part 1 of a two part blog series! Stay tuned for Part 2…
I hope this sparks your curiosity about these filmmakers and their work. Hope to see you at the Wells Library Screening Room on Thursday if you are in the Bloomington, Indiana area.
Lotte That Silhouette Girl
directed by Elizabeth Beecherl and Carla Patullo
We started with an archived interview with our subject, Lotte Reiniger, which was almost an hour long. She was quite charming in it, and it was difficult to cut any of it out. It took us a long time to figure out which parts to use, and in which order. We kept cutting and reordering and cutting and reordering. We finally got to an 18 minute version, and then a 14 minute one, and finally we had cut enough to be just under 10 minutes. It was incredibly hard because we had fallen in love with so many parts of Lotte’s story and the way she tells it, but in the end, we were really happy with the result!
Once upon a time, long before Disney and other animation giants, Lotte Reiniger ignited the screen with shadows, light, and a pair of magical scissors.
The Dating Apocalypse directed by Mary Nittolo
It was extraordinary to have a project where we had the opportunity to create parallel universes – the dysphoric world of compulsive and unfulfilled relationships and the idealized place where real connection happens. After we were locked on the animation, the HINGE team suggested adding the references to iconic film romances. They were a brilliant touch – they added a delightful, fairy tale feel to the HINGE world. To capture the character’s subtlety, we hired actors – specifically two that were in a relationship – and recorded their performances with the HINGE team and ourselves directing the action.
The Dating Apocalypse reimagines the dating app world as a dystopian fairground, where zombie-like single people ride the “Cycle of Loneliness” or visit the “Hall of Filters.”
Peace Carpet directed by Ziba Arzhang
Everyone is looking for a deer, deer is pregnant. She is thinking of saving her child’s life, and she goes through various beds to save her child’s life. The curtain design is woven on the carpet.
Follow Ziba Arzhang on Vimeo.
UkeLayla directed by Haleigh Mooney and Kim Van Tong
One of the toughest things about animation is that technology is always changing, and you must always be learning to use the next big program or plugin. The UkeLayla Team faced that challenge and overcame it. We utilized new technologies such as ZBrush for modeling, 3D Coat for texturing, and RenderMan for rendering.
It was always satisfying for us to get a handle on a new program and use it to accomplish a particular task in our film. Another victory was the fact that both our directors were female, which is especially satisfying in a historically male-dominated profession like animation.
Layla, a young girl with a speech disability, has high hopes for her first day of school, but her differences make it difficult to connect to others. Where speech fails, music speaks. Follow Layla and Kiki into a world of music, magic, and friendship in UkeLayla!
Sonámbula directed by Dinorah de Jesús Rodriguez
As soon as Betty Boop walked into the mirror and entered Wonderland, she and Jane merged into the same woman.
At that point my story came to life & I realized that I was making a narrative film, something I rarely ever do, but enjoyed immensely in this work.
Sonámbula is a hand-crafted, disjointed narrative that tells a tale about sleepwalking and things that happen to women.
The FBI Blew Up My Ice Skates directed by Sara Zia Ebrahimi and Lindsey Martin
Sara responded to the question: “As a mom to an active toddler, caretaker for my Vietnam veteran father-in-law, wife of a fellow creative who is in graduate school full time, and social media specialist at an international nonprofit, getting out of the house for anything not related to one of those roles can be a challenge. But my identity as a filmmaker is just as important to me as those roles, and prioritizing the space for my creative work makes me a better mother, daughter, and wife.
One of the ways I’m able to maintain a balance as a filmmaker mom is by using online tools in the production process whenever possible. This allows me to collaborate in the evenings after my 9-to-5, while still staying home as my toddler sleeps. One of the key tools in the current production of The FBI Blew Up My Ice Skates, the short animated film I’m co-directing with Lindsey Martin, has been Pinterest.”
Based on a true story, the film tells a story from the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1980 from the perspective of Haleh, an eight year old who just wants to enjoy her ice skates.
Follow The FBI Blew Up My Ice Skates on the film’s website.
Wild Woman directed by Vanessa Sweet
Wild Woman began as a concept where I was truly hoping to get in touch with the deeper, feminine aspects of myself. I wanted to embody femme through my drawings. What began as sensuality transformed into maternity, along with my own life path. As I worked on the film back in 2012, I became pregnant with my first child. I was terrified- a wholly new adventure that I had no experience in, and initially no desire to pursue. I struggled to complete the film, and by 2013 I was an exhausted new mother feeling all the pressures of societal perception, struggling to maintain my own identity. It was around this time that I also became more aware of the greater scope and scale of the global proceedings around me.
Thus this film embodies a plea for empathy and compassion. It results from my
encounters with misogyny, oppression, repression, the agoraphobic and the xenophobia
in this world. It is a battle cry against all the hatred. The purity of new life, the change
and evolutions I was experiencing in myself, mind and body, are all infused in each
transforming frame and every poetic verse.
A woman struggles to cope with her mantle as a mother while questioning the pressure
placed on the individual by societal, religious, and governmental expectations and
prejudices. Wild Woman is an animated poem to mankind which invokes current world issues such as drone-strikes and religious persecution in a plea for empathy. Scenes transform and melt as the animator also explores her personal struggle of becoming a mother and identifying as such in our current social and political climate.
Meeting MacGuffin directed by Catya Plate
I was trying to get Gormal, the groundhog climatologist character in my film, to say his important lines “A lot is at stake here!” by turning him away from the camera towards the water bottles in the background. But it didn’t work! Every time I moved him and his jaw while he was ‘talking’ his jaw would fall off. After hours of trying and frustration I decided to move Gormal and his jaw towards the camera instead of away from it while he was delivering his lines. It WORKED right away, Gormal approved! 😉 AND his jaw stayed on. I realized that this was a much better shot with much greater impact than what I was intending in the first place. I have a lot of examples like this one making me understand that I’ve got to listen to my characters and treat them as if they were alive.
The struggle for water has never been this animated!
Stay tuned for Part 2…
Thanks to every director who offered her animated short for consideration.
It was an honor to receive your work.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Indiana University Libraries Screening Room
Herman B Wells Library (048)
Bloomington, Indiana, USA
Free and Open to the Public