Six teams of budding animation professionals have presented their projects at the Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival as part of a new mentorship program for women from France and Africa launched by Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA), an organization that supports to women in animation.
The aim of the initiative, titled “A Woman’s Journey”, is to help women who want to create animated short films but who are not part of or have access to the animation industry. Each team is made up of an author and a director who have developed a film project from scratch.
In the last six months, they have received remote training sessions with a dedicated mentor, as well as three master classes on directing, writing and producing, and copyright law.
The courses were given by Anca Damian, whose latest film “The Island” is competing for this year’s Cristal Prize at Annecy, and Corinne Destombes, head of development at distinguished French production company Folimage.
Three of the teams come from Africa and three from France.
Seunghui Choi and Lucie Marchais’ “Incomplete Woman” is the semi-autobiographical story of Haemi, a young woman from South Korea who lives in France with her boyfriend. When her mother visits her and finds out that her single daughter is living with a man, a fight breaks out. In the ensuing fight, Haemi is swallowed by a creature and travels back in time to her mother’s youth in a conservative and patriarchal South Korean society.
“This is my first foray into animation; It has allowed me to use my imagination and move between the past and the present,” explained Choi, who moved to France from South Korea eight years ago to study film. “I always wanted to make a film about my mother’s life, which is so different from mine.”
Told that his project had been selected out of 50 applications, Choi, who had no animation background, turned to Marchais, an illustrator who graduated from the prestigious Émile Cohl art school in France and works in 2D visual development.
“I’ve been wanting to get into pre-production for years and create my own images. There are women in animation, but most high-level jobs are held by men; many directors are men: the creative side of animated filmmaking is dominated by men. This gives me the opportunity to do more creative work. It’s a great show because it’s made by women for women,” said Marchais. Variety.
Her mentor was award-winning producer Erika Forzy, who also works as a talent scout. She welcomed the opportunity to help other women advance in the industry.
“There’s a lot more awareness of talent these days,” he said. “When I started, there were hardly any female directors. Many people today are ready to help young women gain the confidence they need to find their place in the industry.”
She said that she was proud of the work the team had accomplished in helping Choi “think more visually” and was confident that the project was well on its way to becoming a full-length film.
The initiative is supported by Netflix, Canal+, France Télévisions, Newen Studios Group, CITIA, the French Ministry of Culture, the Réunion region and the French Embassy in Benin, and joins LFA’s ongoing mentoring program for animation professionals released in 2018. .
Eleanor Coleman, co-founder of LFA, commented: “This exciting extension of our popular mentoring program is designed to give a voice to women we don’t often hear from. The support from our sponsors has been incredible and we are thrilled to provide concrete training and opportunities for women who are underrepresented in our industry.”
Below are the other five projects supported by “A Woman’s Journey” in Annecy:
“Flin” is directed by Stella Houedan and illustrated by Iris Hounkanrin from Benin. Combining 2D and stop motion, it tells the story of 16-year-old Alix, who has had to drop out of school to take care of her sick father. One day, he meets a man looking to recruit students for an animation course. Alix loves to draw and dreams of enrolling, but the course is just for kids.
“This film is about what it is to be a woman in Benin, as well as a woman who works in animation,” said Houedan. “Our goal is to show that both women and men are capable of showing what they are capable of if given the opportunity; we want to inspire other young people.”
“A King for My Kingdom” is a 3D short film by sisters Justancia Débora Mbembo and Barbara Aude Mbembo from Gabon. It tells the story of Mia, who is crowned Queen of Allahi after the death of her father. Forced to find a king with whom to rule her kingdom, which is riddled with sexism and misogyny, she sets out to find someone who will make a change.
“We wanted to denounce gender inequality, which is still very much present in Africa and around the world, by creating a powerful woman who stands up for other girls and women,” said Barbara Aude.
“19 Hours” by Constance Hoarau and illustrated by Clara Vandierdonck is a 2D pop art style animation aimed at an adult audience. It tells the story of Virginie, an accomplished mother and doctor who takes care of everything and everyone. One day, as she prepares for a family weekend getaway, something inside her snaps and she finds an excuse to stay. She has 19 hours of peace ahead of her, but finally having time to herself becomes a source of anxiety.
“The project was born from my own experience during confinement: like many parents with children at home, I dreamed of having a little time for myself. I wanted to talk about the pressure we put ourselves under and the need to undo this,” Hoarau said during his introduction.
“The Anti-Heroine” by mother-daughter duo Veronique and Juliette Deldin from France is a collage project that was born out of Veronique’s need to have art in her life.
“It’s called ‘The Anti-Heroine’ because I’m a cleaning lady, I haven’t done anything heroic in my life, but I felt a strong need for art, whether in the form of writing, painting or collage. So this project of making an animated short film was exactly what I needed,” she told the Annecy audience. “Collage is a way of putting the pieces of my life together.”
“Malika, The Warrior” by illustrator Raïssa Kouaho and screenwriter Melanie Adae from the Ivory Coast is a 2D short film project about Malika, a young woman facing abuse and a forced marriage after losing her father. Armed with a fighting spirit, Malika faces these trials as she grows toward a better future and sets out to help other young women.
“Through this story, we want to show that every woman has the right to dream. To do this, she needs education and support along the way,” Kouaho said. “We are grateful to our mentor, Claude Alix (‘Marsupilami’), and the women of LFA for supporting us throughout our journey.”