"Dreams and Desires – Family Ties" Women in Power By Dana Duma

in 30th Annecy International Animated Film Festival

by Dana Duma

Annecy 2006 was a women’s edition. Am I blushing while writing this? If I do it is only because there might be some suspecting me of being a feminist militant. I am far from this but reading the list of the prize winning movies of the main section (short and feature films) one can realize: Women authors were the most acclaimed this year. Although the winner of the main prize, the Annecy Cristal, was the poetic and heartwarming French production Tragic Story with Happy Ending (Histoire tragique avec une fin heureuse) by Portuguese director Regina Pessoa, the most awarded film was Dreams and Desires — Family Ties by British director Joanna Quinn. Besides the FIPRECI Award it won the special jury award and the audience award.

Dreams and Desires — Family Ties is full of references to other movies and it speaks about the incredible effects of cinema on someone’s destiny. It is the story of Beryl, a middle aged housewife who becomes obsessed with her digital camera. Watching the world through the camera objective she discovers surprising aspects of reality and unexpected traits of the people of her milieu. The most delicious parts of this multilayered comedy are those where the heroine compares herself to the masters of cinema like Dziga Vertov, Sergei Eisenstein or the German director Leni Riefenstahl envied for the 22 cameras she used to glorify Hitler in Triumph of the Will (Triumph des Willens).

Beryl dreams to be a great film director. When she is asked to shoot a video about the wedding of her best friend’s daughter she tries to imitate her idols’ styles, obviously with hilarious results. Beryl is irresistible, with her Rubensesque shapes and precipitate gestures, an unforgettable character reminding Joanna Quinn’s drawing skills and strong humor, already appreciated in other shorts like Girls Night Out, Body Beautiful, Famous Fred or Britannia. The quick animation and the excellent dialogues written by Les Mills increase the charm of Dreams and Desires – Family Album. It shows an ironic look of the video mania of our times, with the new formats making anyone to believe that it is so easy to become a filmmaker. The film is a meditation on cinema as diary as well. Were we convinced when Francois Truffaut once said “cinema should be an intimate diary”? I surely was and maybe that’s why I liked so much the film of Joanna Quinn, one of the most talented women working in animation cinema today.

The excellent selection with 55 shorts in competition helped to the audience to discover other talented women like Portuguese Regina Pessoa or Indian Gitanjali Rao who’s delicate and personal Printed Rainbow was much acclaimed. These are a few reasons to say that Annecy 2006 was an edition full of attractions.