Concordia Students Compete in Le Sommet d’Animation Montreal

Quebec’s Animation Film Festival Kicks Off Nov. 23

This noble structure has 8,000 nerves—and its only there to make us feel good. Still from “Le Clitoris” by Traversy

Sex, suicide and monsters may not be what people expect from an animation festival.

“Animation is broad—it’s not just for children,” said Lori Malépart-Traversy.

“Especially ours,” Alisi Telengut chimed in.

Both of these Concordia alumni were selected to compete in Sommets du cinéma d’animation, a five-day Quebec film festival that puts the spotlight on international titles, student films and the overall production of animation in Quebec and Canada. The 15th edition of the festival will take place at the Cinematèque québécoise beginning on Nov. 23.

Telengut was chosen for her short film, “Nutag-Homeland,” and Malépart-Traversy for her piece, “Le Clitoris.” Meanwhile, Daniel Sterlin-Altman—also a Concordia student—was selected for his puppet animation soap opera called “Hi, it’s your Mother.”

“In animation there are a lot of sides, so these are two tiny examples of the possibilities of what you could do,” said Malépart-Traversy. “If you go to the festival you will see that.”

Her three-minute documentary is a brief exploration of the history and anatomy of the clitoris. The project was also her final submission for her undergraduate degree. “It was fun to illustrate the facts that I found,” she said.

This isn’t the first time Malépart-Traversy has addressed sexuality with animation. She also worked on Concordia’s Sexual Assault Resource Center’s consent campaign videos with Sterlin-Altman in August.
The animator said she believes that humor has been the best way to address the often-avoided—or even taboo—conversation around the clitoris. “[The film] works because it’s funny. My character isn’t vulgar—it’s cute and happy.”

But diversity persists in the topics that the former Concordia students explored.

Telengut’s “Nutag-Homeland” is visual poem based on the experiences of the Kalmyk people that were deported in the USSR between 1935 and 1956.

The animation technique she used is called “under camera.” Producing images on the same surface and photographing them, one after another, create its effects.
The film, while based on real events, incorporates Telengut’s interpretation of them.

Animation is flexible and can be used for drama, documentary, and even horror, explained Telengut. “I tell people that I do animation, and they say ‘Oh cartoons!’ But not exactly.”
“Nutag-Homeland” and “Le Clitoris” will both be screened during the animation festival—on Nov. 24 and Nov. 26 at 7:15 p.m.

Lori Malépart-Traversy and Alisi Telengult are featured filmmakers. Photo Ninon Scotto di Uccio.

The goal of the festival, according to Marco de Blois, the artistic director and programmer, is to showcase the skills of the Montreal animation community while also presenting the work of international artists and professionals. There are 25 guests that work in animation who have come from outside Quebec to be part of this experience. “It’s been difficult but a lot of fun,” said de Blois.

“I’m very proud of the international competition this year,” he continued. A record number of premieres are on the menu, some showings being the first in Canada, North America or even worldwide.
A newly added competition for “very short films,” being under two and a half minutes, long will showcase 33 mini-films that will be shown back-to-back at 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23.

This year’s themes are “Animation & Documentary” and “Creatures & Monsters.”

“You’d think it’s contradictory, as animation is artificial and documentaries focus on reality,” said de Blois.

“You’d think it’s contradictory, as animation is artificial and documentaries focus on reality.“— Marco de Blois, Sommet d’Animation Montreal Artistic Director and Programmer

However, this paradox can be thoroughly explored by the animation industry. “When there is no record of events in film, a realistic animation can tell the truth and recreate events,” said de Blois. “[Animation] can be used to replicate something real in a non-photographic way.”

Two puppet filmmakers, Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, who together make up Clyde Henry Productions, inspired the second theme. These creative puppets will be displayed in cases in the Norman-McLaren room in the Cinematèque Québécoise during the festival.

The Sommets du cinéma d’animation festival grew considerably, originally packing everything into one evening and now spanning into a five-day animation extravaganza.

Since 1956, when the Canadian film board moved to Montreal, the board’s reputation has grown to be regarded as a global hub for animation in the world. When asked what makes animation unique, de Blois said, “Animation can be used when you want to represent something that cannot be shown with any other media.”

This makes animation the ideal medium for taboo subjects that could not exist in any other form—for example, to recreate a suicide attempt or make the clitoris the main character of a film.
Over 800 movies were submitted to the festival this year. Selection was based on the technique, aesthetic, connection to themes, and style.

Concordia University is recognized in the Montreal animation community for an outpour of quality animators and films. “There are good things being made at Concordia,” said de Blois cheerfully.

Master Classes will be available to all those interested on Nov. 24 and Nov. 25 with Diane Obomsawin and Joan Gratz. These free cinema classes will focus on the creation of an animated GIF with Obomsawin and the secrets of “clay painting” animation that Gratz is recognized for.

On top of the box office, funding for the festival comes from public and private sources—Telefilm Canada, the City of Montreal, Culture et Communications Québec, Régie du Cinéma Québec, Conseil des Arts de Montreal ,and many others.

_Sommets du cinéma d’animation // Cinémathèque québécoise (335 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E.) // Nov. 23 to Nov. 27 // $10 per event _