Animation Magazine

The Debutante


Directed by Elizabeth Hobbs (U.K.)

Three years ago, London-based artist Elizabeth Hobbs captured the attention of animation fans with her striking, BAFTA-nominated short I’m OK, and the Annecy-nominated Happiness Machine. Her new short The Debutante, which is based on a wild short story written by artist Leonora Carrington in the late 1930s, is about a young woman who persuades a hyena to replace her at a dinner dance held in her honor!

“What could possibly go wrong?” asks Hobbs.“I first read the story in 2016 and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. We started production in earnest in 2020! I used hand-painted frames and paper collage captured under a rostrum camera with Dragonfram­e. We had a very small team. I animated, wrote and directed the film; I worked with producer Abigail Addison, composer Hutch Demouilpie­d, editor Mark Jenkins, actors Joanna David, Alexa Davies and Naomi Stafford, and Fonic on the sound design and mix.”

Hobbs says she was very pleased to have been trusted with Carrington’s extraordin­ary short story and to have had the budget to work with a great team. She adds, “I think the film is joyful and dramatic at the same time. The toughest part was finding the funding for the film, but working with Abigail Addison from Animate Projects was a joy, and we were lucky to receive funding support from the BFI through its Short Form Animation Fund, which is made possible thanks to National Lottery funding.”

The director says she has a long list of animated shorts that have impacted her. Among them, she singles out Fuji by Robert Breer, The Street by Caroline Leaf, Alison de Vere’s Two Faces, Tale of Tales by Yuri Norstein, Cannon Fodder by Vera Neubauer, Damon the Mower by George Dunning and Very Nice, Very Nice by Arthur Lipsett.

For now, she hopes audiences will enjoy her clever outing with the hyena. “I hope they’ll discover Leonora Carrington’s other stories and paintings,” she says. “I also hope that audiences will enjoy this wild story of a young woman’s urgent rebellion!”

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