2013 Focus Québec: Animer la belle province

Animation in Québec– McLaren's and Larkin's Grandchildren

Or the video Clip and Computer Graphics Generation

For a long time, animated films in Québec were mainly produced by the Office National du Film (ONF) and the Société de Développement des Entreprises Culturelles du Québec (SODEC). And the ONF was also the main trainer of animation filmmakers. Anyone wanting to make a career in this area had only one aim: To become permanently employed with ONF as an animation filmmaker. The extraordinary films by Norman McLaren, Ryan Larkin, Jacques Drouin, Co Hoedeman, Caroline Leaf, Pierre Hébert and many others proved to be a door opener for all of them.

However now that ONF is employing fewer permanently directors, Québec’s animation filmmakers have been making increasing use of that which is available to them: The new computer graphics technology which is easier to handle and use nowadays. The internet and the personal blog represent the areas where their work are displayed. New animation film schools, such as the Centre NAD (Centre National d’Animation et de Design) and the INIS (Institut National de l’Image et du Son), are joining the already well known schools in order to assume an all-rounder role in the field of animation. In this way, the support provided by the SODEC and the Conseil des Arts et des Lettres du Québec has contributed to establishing a new generation of more courageous and innovative filmmakers working on a global level.

Today, you can follow the most diverse careers of animation filmmakers from Québec in television series and feature films, working in areas such as the visual arts, contemporary music and special effects. They are also involved in numerous video clips, where they can give free rein to their imagination and fantasy in technical areas.

Yet for all the freedom they have had in their latest productions, there is one thing they share: The desire to return to the roots of animated film even if they also apply new technologies doing so. Yet they often prefer the traditional drawn animation, the use of models and figures, as well as pixilation and other simple tools. It is as though they want to take heed of McLaren’s advice that anyone who feels like making animated films should make do with whatever is at hand right then without a huge Hollywood budget. These new filmmakers from Québec are also concerned with the fate of our planet, the misery caused by the ever-present wars, with violence and the need to do something about the loneliness of our fellow human beings. While it is true that their films are frequently harrowing, they do not lack humour. In this respect, one recalls the ONF animation filmmakers for whom humour represented an important component in lightening the manner in which their message could be conveyed and spread. One only has to think of McLaren’s propaganda films to promote the purchase of victory bonds, such as "V for Victory", which always had a funny ending. This tradition is continuing in today’s animated films from Québec – and often in a highly effective way.

Ian Gailer

The Films

D'ALÉAS (OF EVENTS), Mathieu Tremblay (Animation, Canada 2010)

Following the rhythm of a train, the boundaries between a woman, a man, a child, an old man, a destination and a set of diffuse memories and desires conditioning their journey slowly fade away.

JODA (APART), Theodore Ushev (Animation, Canada, 2012)

A woman writes a letter to a man who will read it from his jail cell. A letter of love, of concern, compassion, suffering and hope.

LA DANSE DU SANG DES AUTRES (AND ENDLESS MASSACRE), Jacques Marchand (Animation, Canada, 2011)

During the twentieth century, we killed or let die more humans than ever before in history. This short animation film deals with genocides and geno- cidal crimes which plagued this period of time.

UN VORTEX DANS FACE (A VORTEX IN THE FACE), Joël Vaudreuil (Animation, Canada, 2010)

The life of a man with a strange handicap.

MULVAR IS CORRECT CANDIDATE, Patrick Désilets (Animation, Canada, 2011)

Mulvar’s shallow understanding of human politics does not keep him from running for election. This is his TV advertising campaign.

PAULA, Élise Labbé (Fiction, Canada, 2011)

A disturbing expressionist portrait of a working-class neighbourhood tragedy featuring a prostitute and a young child.

BLANCHE FRAISE, Frédérick Tremblay (Animation, Canada, 2011)

A rabbit couple tries to survive in a dying forest.


A modern-day couple’s secret love affair comes to a bittersweet end during an evening phone call. But the visuals reveal something entirely different: The epic reinterpretation of their relationship set in feudal China.

UMBRA, Malcom Sutherland (Animation, Canada, 2010)

An explorer ventures into an unknown world, yet it seems that he has been there before.

TRIPTYCH-2, Pierre Hébert (Animation, Canada, 2012)

An abstract film made from the video capture of a live animation perfor- mance presented in Vienna at the Stadtkirche with Andrea Martignon during the Vienna Independent Shorts Festival.

TIGRE (TIGER), Alexandre Roy (Animation, Canada, 2012)

Take a trip on a tiger’s back. With an improvised soundtrack recorded during a live show by dumas and his band.

A GIRL NAMED ELASTIKA, Guillaume Blanchet (Animation, Canada, 2012)

Elastika is not like any other little girl. Because she is made of elastic and her universe is a land of cork. Her journey is also one of a kind and was shot in stop-motion that required over 10,000 images.

MONKEY MOON, Emmanuel Gatera, Antoine  Rouleau (Animation, Canada, 2011)

A monkey is peacefully enjoying its banana in the jungle when it’s suddenly captured to be sent into space.