Toronto After Dark 2016 Profile: Dianne Bellino

“I wanted to create a world where the emotional and psychological experience of the main character — a kind of rawness, vulnerability, and imperfection — was really visible and upfront.”

Lisa Gallagher
Oct 14, 2016 · 6 min read
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“The Itching”

Film: The Itching

The Itching is a short film about a shy wolf who tries to befriend a group of hip, party-loving bunnies but finds that her body is in revolt. Though the wolf longs to connect with this enthralling group of strangers, she is overwhelmed with anxiety and descends into obsessive itching.

The Itching has screened at several film festivals already in 2016, including: Sundance Film Festival, Fantastic Fest, Fantasia International Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston, Maryland Film Festival, Guanajuato International Film Festival, Hamptons Film Festival, Animatou International Animation Festival, and more. It has racked up a number of awards as well, including the Debra Hill Film Grant from Women in Film LA, Best Short Animation at Sarasota Film Festival, the Grand Jury Prize at Nashville Film Festival, Best Short Animation at Athens International Film Festival, and the Bullet Award at Columbia Gorge Film Festival.

You can see The Itching at this year’s Toronto After Dark, screening as part of Shorts After Dark at 3:30pm on October 15th. GET YOUR TICKETS HERE.

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“The Itching”

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH FILMMAKING.

I learned film in a really DIY way, with a cheap wind-up 16mm film camera, making films with my boyfriend and sister and close friends. A little later I went to a grad program in film, though it largely focused on experimental filmmaking. After grad school, I worked in the film and television industry for a few years. So, even though I’m a narrative filmmaker, I’ve come upon it in a roundabout way, and am influenced by a lot of different things (visual art and music, as well as fiction writing and film).

TELL US A BIT ABOUT THE ITCHING. WHERE DID THE IDEA COME FROM?

Besides the image of the blue wound, I knew that I wanted to write a script that dealt with vulnerability and anxiety, particularly social anxiety, the simultaneous longing for and fear of connection. I wanted to create a world where the emotional and psychological experience of the main character — a kind of rawness, vulnerability, and imperfection — was really visible and upfront.

Being so emotional with humans in a live action script would have been too serious and melodramatic… there was something very fun and playful about the thought of being so emotional with a tiny clay wolf and bunnies!

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO CREATE A FILM USING CLAYMATION AS OPPOSED TO LIVE ACTION OR ANOTHER FORM OF ANIMATION?

Adam and I spoke about using clay from the beginning. We had both made super short videos in clay animation previously, and thought that its raw, visceral quality would be fun to experiment with and appropriate for expressing the kinds of strong emotions and hybrid tone I knew would be in the script.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO ANTHROPOMORPHIZE ANIMALS INSTEAD OF USING HUMAN CHARACTERS?

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE FILM BENEFITS FROM BEING DIALOGUE-FREE?

WITH SUCH A LONG PRODUCTION PERIOD AND SO MANY COMPONENTS TO THIS FILM, WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF REACHING COMPLETION?

But you know, we’re really happy with the finished film and so thrilled it’s been getting played and we get to share it with people, so what can we say? Except that hopefully each of our next projects will be easier!

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TELL US ABOUT WHY YOU ARE A FEMINIST AND WHY IT’S IMPORTANT TO YOUR FILMMAKING.

I do really treasure my friendships with other female directors and artists. I find incredible inspiration in their talent and bravery and am so grateful for the support we give each other. It can be lonely as a woman making creative work (and especially lonely as a woman directing), and the glow of friends and/or family is essential.

WHO ARE YOUR FAVOURITE WOMEN WORKING IN THE FILM INDUSTRY?

IF A MOVIE ABOUT YOUR LIFE WERE CREATED, WHO WOULD STAR AS YOU AND WHAT GENRE WOULD IT BE?

IF YOU WERE REINCARNATED AS A AN ICE CREAM FLAVOUR, WHAT WOULD IT BE??

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT? WILL YOU CONTINUE TO DIRECT?

I love directing, and I’ll continue to do it as long as I still feel that way. You never know where life’s going to take you, but right now it’s on.

RECOMMEND ONE #MUFFAPPROVED FILM FOR OUR BLOG READERS:

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“The Itching” poster

Follow The Itching’s official website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for up-to-date info on the film.


Lisa Gallagher is the Producer of The MUFF Society in Toronto and the Social Media Coordinator for Toronto After Dark Film Festival. She is a lover of cats, carbs, and laying down.

Follow her on Instagram and Letterboxd.

MUFF Blog

We are a community that celebrates women in film and TV.

Lisa Gallagher

Written by

Festival Director of Toronto True Crime Film Festival. Former producer of The MUFF Society in Toronto. Lover of cats, carbs, and Keanu Reeves.

MUFF Blog

MUFF Blog

We are a community that celebrates women in film and TV. High five!

Lisa Gallagher

Written by

Festival Director of Toronto True Crime Film Festival. Former producer of The MUFF Society in Toronto. Lover of cats, carbs, and Keanu Reeves.

MUFF Blog

MUFF Blog

We are a community that celebrates women in film and TV. High five!

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