Tracing the Body

in 39th Annecy International Animation Film Festival

by Cloe Masotta

This year women have been so present in the 39th edition of Annecy International Animated Film Festival. First, in Femmes at animation, a programme of eight sessions dedicated to women filmmakers across the ages; from the 1930s to the present. The screens lit up with women’s creativity, from the melancholic and haptic sensuality of the images in Futon (Yoriko Mizushiri, 2012) to the sexy humour of the cathartic Girls’ Night Out (Joanna Quinn, 1986) or the hot fantasies that break the routine of a tramway driver in Tram (Michaela Pávlatová, 2012). We have also admired the handmade masterpieces of the Honorary Cristal of this year, Florence Mialhe. And what about the discovery of the cut-out film 1880 (Jeannine et Christianne Clerfeuille, 1963), featured in the session Women Filmmakers, a prodigious divertimento made using photographs from the XIXth century, curated by Jean-Baptiste Garnerofrom the CNC (Centre National du cinema et de l’imageanimé)? Each Annecy Festival edition surprises and captivates the audience with some rare, unknown animation treasures.

Butthe Official Section has also included some pieces made by women that explore their reality and desires. The experimentation on the possibilities for different animation techniques and figuring the feminine body is present in films such as Guida from Rosana Urbes. In fact, the first short, made by a Brazilian filmmaker, is not only focused on its figuration, and disfiguration, and the blossoming beauty of ageing women, but also on the inner body, through the representation of the fantasies and desires of its central character.

A trace of Rosana Urbes vibrates through each of Guida’s movements and gestures. The film presents the woman’s everyday life. In the first few images we follow her as she awakens, and goes through her morning routine; after taking a shower Guida dresses carefully, looking at and touching her body in front of a mirror, revealing her riddles. The spectator can feel in his or her own skin the delicateness of her gestures. In the image there is a supposedly decayeing body, due to the passage of time. But the way Guida pays attention and cares for it makes her beautiful.  The images create a questioning over the importance of the desiring gaze that climaxes at the end of the short when Guida, nude, poses for a group of art students.

This sequence in the film is directly related to the mirror scene, described above. In that scene, Guida’s gaze is on her own body and operates as the magic of beauty and desire. The desiring, and joyful gaze is in some way present in the students that represent this body as if another kind of mirror, or a piece of paper. But in that instance the desire has become a creative one. The gazes of the artists operate as a kind of resurrection of Guida’s body, perhaps that of a retired dancer, as is suggested in some of the images that figure the fantasies or memories of the woman that appears in the a forementioned portrait sequence.

Created in compositing, using Adobe After Effects, the short opts for a 2D animation aquarelle look, that spreads out a full choreography of lines we can link to the image of Guida as a young dancer that pends on her house wall. In the end credits we discover some images from the creative process that took Urbes to the final result. And the idea of a drawing flowing on a piece of paper, a body made of charcoal and aquarelle lines, is so accurate. Because, when the film ends, perhaps we will imagine Guida’s adventure as a model, as the drawing of one of the artists that had portrayed her.

Edited by Tara Judah