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Intimate Animation: Diane Obomsawin (‘I Like Girls’)

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Continuing the second season of Intimate Animation – the Skwigly podcast in which we explore, discuss and interview the talents behind animation that deals with adult themes of love, relationships and sexuality – we welcome Canadian comic artist/filmmaker Diane Obomsawin.

Also known by her pen-name Obom, Diane has been a staple of the Montreal underground comics scene since the mid-80s, having moved to Canada after growing up. Cutting her teeth in the world of animation while studying at Concordia Univeristy, since the late 90s she has enjoyed a harmonious relationship with the National Film Board of Canada, producing several commissioned films dealing with civil law and personal rights before her first original animated short Here and There, an autobiographical film based on her tumultuous childhood which went on the win Best Narrative Short Animated at the Ottawa International Animation Festival in 2006.

Diane Obomsawin (Photo ©R. Nazal)

Diane Obomsawin (Photo ©R. Nazal)

Subsequent films have been based on Diane’s acclaimed work as a comic book writer and artist, with her 2008 award-winning graphic novel Kaspar (inspired by the life of Kaspar Hauser) adapted into a similarly accoladed NFB film in 2012. Among her most recent comic projects is J’aime les Filles, a collection of ten reflections by women on their first loves, exploring topics such as coming out, early attempts at sexual expression, affection both reciprocated and not, all presented with honest humour and pathos. The ‘ordinariness’ and relatability of each memoir makes them all the more compelling, with Diane’s distinct illustration style – in which people are depicted with animal heads that vary from story to story – imbuing them with an apropos sense of naivety.

At times explicitly sexual, there’s no sense of an impetus to provoke, shock or titillate; these sequences instead serve to round out of the authenticity of each recollection, appearing alongside bizarrely endearing anecdotal details that range from eating ice-cream cones dunked in cola to coveting a brother’s parking garage playset. Although the stories are bound by the theme of women’s affection for women, there’s a universal accessibility inherent in its loftier themes of yearning, rejection, adolescent confusion and, in its cheerier moments, the unbridled joy of romantic dreams coming true. Having been translated to English as On Loving Women by renowned Canadian publisher Drawn & Quarterly (who also released an English translation of Kaspar), four of the ten stories have been adapted into the animated short film I Like Girls. Produced by Marc Bertrand (whose recent NFB credits also include Blind Vaysha, Monsieur Pug, Jutra, No Fish Where To Go, Sunday and Theo Ushev’s 20th Century Trilogy) the film has already been critically acclaimed and garnered the Grand Prize for Independent Short at last year’s OIAF.

I Like Girls will be screening at Animafest Zagreb next week and is also part of the official selection of this year’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

Subscribe, direct download or stream below:

Presented by Ben Mitchell and Laura-Beth Cowley
Produced and edited by Ben Mitchell
Music by Ben Mitchell

See more of the work of Diane Obomsawin on her Vimeo channel and NFB page.

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