Saturday, Oct 6 – 3:15pm-4:45pm
"Graphic Chameleons: Autobiography in American Women’s Animation, 1970-1990”
The period between 1970-1990 is often described as a lull in the history of American animation, bridging the so-called Golden Age cartoons (1930s-1950s) and the postwar limited-animation turn (1950s-1960s) with the digital renaissance of commercial animation (1990s to the present). Those two interim decades, however, also saw an explosion of independent animation the US, with a particularly high number of notable women animators. Long barred from creative roles in big animation studios, women took advantage of new production and distribution opportunities to sustain independent careers. This also gave them the opportunity to produce autobiographic films that tackled their personal and social circumstances. How might we explain the astonishing rise of independent women’s animation during this period? What common themes or motifs might we find among their more personal films? By pursuing these larger questions through close analysis of autobiographical films, this paper offers insight into the forces shaping the aesthetics of independent women’s animation during those two decades.
In the first part of my talk, I outline the historical factors that opened opportunities for women working in the independent animation mode during the 1970s-1980s. Such factors range from the cultural (expanded training opportunities and women’s rights discourse) to the economic (new sources of paid work in television, advertising, and education). In the second and main part of the talk, I consider how these circumstances shaped common visual strategies that appear in the more personal, autobiographical films produced by these artists. My investigation draws on close visual analysis of key films including Joanna Priestley’s Voices, Candy Kugel’s Audition, and Kathy Rose’s Pencil Booklings, as well as writings and interviews with the filmmakers.
My talk identifies striking similarities in how these filmmakers used animation to question their own identity as artists working in a medium that has historically excluded them. In particular, I discuss the role of fragmented and eclectic graphic styles; ironic imitation of mainstream cartoon conventions; and frequent appearances of the animator as a graphic character in her films. These visual strategies were not unique to women’s animation, but they took on specific forms that, I argue, directly relate to the artistic and cultural pressures faced by independent women working in this period.
Alla Gadassik is Assistant Professor of Media History and Theory at Emily Carr University of Art + Design (Vancouver). Her research focuses on the history of filmmaking technology and technique, particularly cinematography and animation. She has published articles and chapters on experimental, scientific, and studio animation; stereoscopic cinematography; and early film editing. Her current book project explores the importance of bodily movement and gesture in early filmmaking practices.
“Women and the Contemporary Animated Documentary”
Traditionally animation is a male-dominated industry. Yet, probably due to animated documentaries being mainly independent/auteur works (a branch wherein, according to Jayne Pilling, women have been more likely to find the possibility of emerging as animation filmmakers), the opposite appears to be the case when taking into consideration contemporary animated documentary production. Indeed, if during this form’s classical period (1939-1985) we had figures like Joy Batchelor and Faith Hubley that, together with their respective husbands, produced, and sometimes directed animated films tackling factual subject matters (e.g. The Colombo Plan or Windy Day), in the last three decades a consistent portion of the animated documentaries have been directed (or co-directed) and animated by female artists. Ann Marie Fleming, Jacqueline Goss, Mischa Kamp, Gillian Lacey, Ellie Land, Ruth Lingford, Lori Malépart-Traversy, Samantha Moore, Marjut Rimminen, Marjane Satrapi, Sheila Sofian, and Orly Yadin are only some of the many women filmmakers that, since the late 1980s, have chosen to recount an aspect of our world through animation.
After depicting this phenomenon and its evolutions, the paper will show how, on the one hand these female artists have had a key role in the subjective turn of the contemporary animated documentary, on the other hand their films tend to progressively move away from what Paul Wells terms the ‘feminine aesthetic’. In other words, by closely analysing these female artists’ nonfictional animated films it will be shown how, paradoxically, although the present-day animated documentary as a form often serves self-representation, a substantial number of such works do not address women’s issues nor favour a feminist perspective on the topic tackled. They tend instead to address issues felt as relevant by the society from an un-gendered perspective.
Cristina Fomenti is a Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Film Studies at the University of Milan, Italy. She holds a doctoral degree from the same university, obtained defending a thesis on the theory, history and aesthetics of animated documentary. She is author of the monograph Il mockumentary: la fiction si maschera da documentario (Mimesis 2013) and editor of Mariangela Melato tra cinema, teatro e televisione (Mimesis 2016). She is currently working on the animated mockumentary, the classical animated documentary, and the new Italian documentary. She is also the co-editor of Animation Studies 2.0.
“Case Study of Corrie Francis Parks”
This case study places in historical perspective the body of work of contemporary American independent animator Corrie Francis Parks as a unique voice working under the camera using “malleable materials.” I will analyze her story themes and the physicality of her medium, mapping those to her artistic influences, and how the uses of technology for sound recording and production process have merged into her signature visual style and aesthetic.
Adriana Jaroszewicz is an Associate Professor in Animation at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. She holds an MFA in Film, Video and Computer Animation from the University of Southern California. Before joining Loyola Marymount, Adriana served as a Senior Digital Trainer for animators, compositors, hair, layout, character set-up and character pipeline crews at Sony Pictures Imageworks. She continues to research the application of movement analysis methods as pedagogy to improve 3D computer animation biomechanics. She is currently working on a free-association experimental narrative short, driven by character performance.