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Going beyond the classic cartoons

by Ambre Sachet November 29, 2016
Going beyond the classic cartoons

The 15th Sommets du cinéma d’animation festival featured works by Concordia students

If you roll your eyes every time your friend tells you animations are  a sophisticated version of Disney films, you should take them to the 15th edition of the Sommets du cinéma d’animation.

The festival that put Montreal animation on the map is back with a dazzling program. The festival ran until Nov. 27 and  hosted a total of 148 short films, two feature films and three exhibits. It also featured an international film selection and conferences on the future of animation.

This year, the festival’s competitive programs focused on 29 shorts and included work from three Concordia graduates, whose work was selected from 400 submissions:  Le clitoris  by Lori Malépart-Traversy;  Nutag, Homeland by Alisi Telengut   and Daniel Sterlin-Altman’s stop-motion Hi it’s your mother.

Telengut painted each frame of the film by hand for her pictorial and aesthetically delightful short Nutag, Homeland. It is based on the forceful relocation to Siberia of the Kalmyk people of the Soviet Union during WWII. “The camera was on top and I always painted on the same surface, unlike traditional animation which is made by changing papers. For each image, I would take off the oil pastel and start again,” said Telengut.

Daniel Sterlin-Altman’s Hi it’s your mother is a hilarious and refreshing look at filial love. “I want this film to contribute to the still very small roster of queer animated films,” Sterlin-Altman said. “In this film the queerness is meant to just be a part of the film, definitely contributing to shock value, but the focus is not on a tragedy or conflict with queer identity. I think this film can help show that queerness can be a part of animated narratives and not such an emotional trauma.”

Sterlin-Altman, who graduated from Concordia with a BFA in animation and a minor in human environment, said he is obsessed with small things, like puppets.

“I worked with a ridiculously long list of materials that are mostly found from anywhere around my house. I really love how stop motion filmmaking is all about repurposing things from the big world to do something different in the mini world,” said Sterlin-Altman. “I made the characters out of a material called foam latex, which takes the form of a mold I sculpted and allows me to squish it and manipulate it without ruining the shape.”

Concordia Graduate Alisi Telengut is the director of Nutag, Homeland Photo by: Katherine Delorme

Concordia Graduate Alisi Telengut is the director of Nutag, Homeland Photo by: Katherine Delorme

What Marco de Blois, the festival’s organizer and former Concordia professor  loves most about Sterlin-Altman Hi it’s your mother is that it made de Blois laugh at a time where he was exhausted from binge-watching short films. “The film is a comical masterpiece which allows the public to breathe,” de Blois said.

The winners of the student competition were announced on Sunday,  Nov. 27 during the award and closing ceremony of the festival at the Cinémathèque québécoise.

According to de Blois, the event featured three prevailing themes. It didn’t take long before the Clyde Henry Productions’ impressively detailed and nightmarish puppets came to life in the halls of the Cinémathèque and set the tone for the first theme: monsters and creatures.

The opening night of the festival also gave us a taste of the second theme—the significant presence of female directors. The Sommets kicked off with Noémie Marsily and Carl Roosens’ short film, I don’t feel anything anymore, and Ann Marie Fleming’s long feature, Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming, a touching tale about a young Canadian poet who reconnects with her roots by attending a poetry festival in Iran.

For its third main theme, the festival joined forces with the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) for the first time to present the animated reality section. Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre’s  Oscar, a short about jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, visually bridged documentary and animation together.

“The mission of the festival goes beyond the notion of animation as something cute, funny and made for childrenwhich it isbut not only,” said de Blois. “Animation can also be surprising, innovative, social and political.”

As creative as it is zany, the 15th edition of the Sommets du cinéma d’animation overflowed with events dedicated to the student community, such as the Money and Eyeballs panel discussion on films funding and a meeting with Framestore studio where speakers spoke about job opportunities in the visual effects industry.

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