Of all the incredible films in Transplanetarium, the shorts series focusing on trans stories and creators, Iris Moore’s The Dancer and the Crow stands out because it’s the only animated film in the series, one of very few in the entire festival. Film review contributor Michael Lyons got in touch with Concordia-trained, Montreal-based artist Iris Moore to ask about how her love of drawing and painting led her to fall in love with animation and the vulnerability of exploring inner worlds.
ML: What made you fall in love with animation?
IM: You know, it’s funny. I was in a drawing class where one of my teachers was going to spend one class just teaching us basic stop-motion animation, and I was really resistant. I was like, “Ugh, I do not want to do this. It means dealing with computers. Eww.” And then I tried it out, and I did, and I had never—I’m very passionate about art, obviously, visual arts, painting and drawing—I never had a medium that suddenly involved motion and timing and sound, all these other elements that were able to bring so much more to the message that I wanted to send. It was just like a whole new world opening up. I found I had a knack for it, I guess.
ML: What was the genesis of The Dancer and the Crow?
IM: I can tell you, I was watching a show and there was this scene with all these ballerinas in black ballet wear. I had this vision suddenly of really wanting to animate a ballerina. I had done two animations prior to this that were also about gender, and I knew I really wanted to do a third to have a complete trilogy. I knew this one had to involve a ballerina just because the aesthetic inspires and excites me so much. Generally I start sketching, and I started coming up with images I liked. I have a very strong focus on inner worlds in a lot of my work, so I wanted to have some sort of person who had another person inside them, and find a way of bringing that out.
ML: What kinds of reactions has the short gotten?
IM: Generally I get really, really lovely feedback. People tend to like it and find it touching, which is great because it was a really vulnerable one for me to do. The first two are quite lighthearted and silly. This one was a bit more serious, and it was scary, but I think I created something that reaches people, which feels really good.
ML: I find it really interesting, especially in this festival, that it’s one of the only animated pieces that I’ve seen. Why do you think there aren’t more animated films, especially around queer and trans issues?
IM: I think part of it [is] probably because it’s insanely time-consuming. It takes a very particular person to enjoy that. Sometimes I feel like a crazy person when I’m working on these films, but it’s always worth it. I think that plays a big part, not that film isn’t time-consuming, but it’s time-consuming in a really different way. Whereas what I’m doing is moving some pieces of paper and taking a picture, and moving some pieces of paper and taking a picture, for hours and hours and hours.
The Dancer and the Crow is part of the Transplanetarium shorts series playing on May 30, 2015, at the Inside Out Film Festival in Toronto.
Michael Lyons (@queer_mikey) is a queer-identified writer, journalist, and game maker. He writes for DailyXtra.com, where he and a colleague pen History Boys, a bi-monthly column on lesser-known LGBT history. He has a story coming out in an upcoming anthology titled Rad Women and the Things They Did. He is also working on his first video game, an episode of a popular LGBT-positive dating sim for young people.