Fantasia 2017 Profile: Lori Malépart-Traversy
“I thought it would be interesting to deconstruct myths and misinformation about the clitoris.”
Meet the clitoris: the only organ in the human body dedicated exclusively to pleasure! In Le Clitoris, you will not only meet this lovely character, but you will learn more about their unrecognized anatomy and unknown history too! This short animated documentary is both humourous and informative, so get ready to laugh and learn!
Animator Lori Malépart-Traversy is a native of Montréal and holds both a BFA in Film Animation and a BFA in Studio Arts from Concordia University. Previously, she has written, directed, and animated the short films Sparky Ketchup and Extra Champigons, which have been presented at a number of festivals around the globe.
Le Clitoris had its World Premiere at the 2016 Art All Night Film Festival and has since screened at dozens of film festivals worldwide, including Womanimation! (where it won the Audience Award), Chicago Feminist Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award for Best Documentary), Festival du Film Étudiant de Québec (where it won Best Animated Film), Vues D’En Face Grenoble International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award for Best Short Film), World Festival of Animated Film, Red Dawns International Feminist and Queer Festival, KLIK! Animation Festival, and Femmes En Résistance Feminist Documentary Film Festival.
If you’re in Montréal, you can see Le Clitoris at this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival screening as part of the Outer Limits of Animation program at 2:45 PM on July 16th — GET YOUR TICKETS HERE — or you can watch the entire short online below:
Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got involved with filmmaking.
Lori Malépart-Traversy: I was born in Montréal twenty-six years ago and I am still living there. My mother is an illustrator and her art has always inspired me. I knew from a young age that I wanted to follow her steps. After high school, I studied for five years in fine arts before switching for animation. I graduated last year from the Film Animation program at Concordia University.
Tell us about LE CLITORIS. What inspired you to tell this story?
LMT: My film was done during my last year of study in the Film Animation program at Concordia University. For the final project of the degree, students have the opportunity of doing one short film throughout 8 months. We had total liberty of the content or technique, so I decided to explore a subject I’m very interested in, which is female sexuality seen through the eyes of women. This is something we don’t see often in media and cinema and which is linked with a lot of myths and false information.
I started to do some research on Internet and came across the Wikipedia page of the clitoris. By reading a lot of information and historical facts I had never heard of before — like the fact that the clitoris has long roots and that men “discovered” it — I thought I could make my short film on this particular organ. I thought it would be interesting to deconstruct myths and misinformation about the clitoris.
I continued my research and found one very good book on the clitoris called “La Fabuleuse Histoire Du Clitrois” written by a French sexologist named Jean-Claude Piquard. My film is a kind of very short summary of the book.
The character you created for this film has got to be the cutest freakin’ clitoris in existence. What motivated you to feature this anthropomorphized sex organ in your documentary?
LMT: When I found images of the clitoris’ anatomy on Internet, with the roots that look like two legs, I really saw the potential of doing a character with it. I also wanted to clearly present the clitoris, and not the vagina, as the equivalent of the penis. By becoming a character, the clitoris is alive and has agentivity. Because it’s cute and appealing, I hope that people will remember it and will want to be kind with it!
How do you feel that the information in this documentary benefits from being expressed through animation?
LMT: I think animation is the perfect medium for a short documentary on the history of the clitoris. I was able to create a character with the clitoris which would have been hard or very weird in live-action! I think it’s also easier for the viewers to watch an animation on a sexual subject because it looks more innocent and it’s less graphic.
What was your goal in approaching the history of the clitoris with a sense of humour?
LMT: I like to do funny drawings and funny films, so the humour came very quickly and naturally when I started to work on the film. For me it was essential to use humour for this subject because it grabs the attention of the viewers and it’s a very good way to talk about serious issues.
Was there any additional information that you wish you could have included in this film or do you feel that you covered everything you wanted to?
LMT: There was a lot of information on the clitoris and it was not easy to compress everything I wanted to talk about in 3 minutes. I also wanted to keep an overall lightness. I believe I covered everything I wanted for this short format. I see my documentary as an introduction to the history of the clitoris that is meant to open further discussions and further research for the people that are interested.
Tell us about why you are a feminist and why it’s important to your filmmaking.
LMT: Feminism is for me a tool to fight against sexism and patriarchal oppression. I believe men and women should have equal rights in all aspects of their life (personal, social, political, economical, etc.).
My film is feminist in the way it encourages women to take back their own body and sexuality, after all the debates among men on women’s bodies. It also emphasizes that women’s sexuality and pleasure are not only focused around penis and penetration, but can also be solitary or involving other ways of having sex.
Who are your favourite women working in the film industry?
LMT: I’m inspired by a lot of female animation filmmakers like Martine Chartrand, Signe Baumane, Torill Kove and Michèle Cournoyer. I also admire a lot Alanis Obomsawin, a very important indigenous documentary filmmaker.
What’s the best advice about filmmaking you’ve ever received?
LMT: I didn’t receive a lot of advice for filmmaking, but about art in general I once heard someone (a teacher maybe?) saying something like : “Don’t worry too much about making something very original, if you make something it will be automatically unique because no one else than you made it.”
What are you working on now/next?
LMT: I’m starting to work on a new animation project still on the subject of women sexuality. This time, I would like to concentrate on female masturbation, fantasies and desires. Masturbation is still a taboo subject, and even more so when it comes to female masturbation. I would like to illustrate different stories by different women on their experience of solitary pleasure.
Finally, recommend one #MUFFAPPROVED film for our blog readers:
LMT: I really liked the film Tangerine (dir. Sean Baker), where we follow two transgender sex-workers in California.
Check out Le Clitoris’ production blog for more info on the film.
Lisa Gallagher is the Producer of The MUFF Society in Toronto. She is a lover of cats, carbs, and laying down.