Female Voices

Portrait: Britt Raes

In 2018, Germany celebrated 100 years of women’s right to vote. A historic achievement. The cellu l'art celebrates the anniversary with a special "Female Voices" - the films about women, freedom and (in)equality. We decided to talk to Britt Raes - about feminism, animation and what people can learn from cats.


Britt Raes from Belgium is one of the jury members of the 20th cellu l'art Short Film Festival. And she is also a talented animation film artist. Her short film "Catherine" won the ExAnDo award at the 19th festival.

- What does film mean to you, compared to other art forms?

Film (and especially animation) is for me an art form that is open to incorporate other artforms. You don’t have to, but you can. Concept and story writing, image (photography, cgi or drawings), sound/music, ... It’s all in there. You don’t choose for one artform, you can explore all of them and blend them into one result: a film.

- Looking on your Vimeo channel, one can see that you're all into animation films. How interesting is it for you to work on feature films or documentaries as well?

I love watching live action and documentary! And it’s very inspiring and interesting to hear about the similarities and the differences of making a different format. And, if an opportunity popped up, I wouldn’t say no to making any of them in the future, if it makes sense to the story/concept. That being said, I really love animation, and it’s always possible to incorporate elements from live-action or documentary in an animated film as well. I don’t only love animation because of the result but also because of the people involved in animation. Because it’s such a time consuming and tedious process, people in animation tend to be very passionate, giving and warm. And it’s truly a team effort, so there isn’t so much room for egos.

- Cats are more than leading characters in your films. What can humans learn from cats?

How to be less stressed? You can’t force a cat to do anything it doesn’t want to. People do that too often! And how to lick your butt.

  - Who is your favourite female filmmaker?

I immediately think of some animation filmmakers I admire! Julia Pott, who was my mentor during the development of my short Catherine. Rebecca Sugar, the first woman to create a series for Cartoon Network. (I do want to mention she identifies as non-binary). Aisha Madu, who's making funny series about 'shame' for national television, and her clean style contrasts the content so well! Nadja Andrasev, whose new short film Symbiosis I’m very curious to see! Nienke Deutz, whose latest short Bloeistraat 11 managed to create a unique style that enhanced the story so much. Jasmine Elsen, a wonderful young talent who's currently putting the final touches on her professional debut. Charlie Dewulf, whose enthusiasm and drive inspires me. (another non-binary beauty) Sorry for all the other lovely ladies I didn’t mention. There is so much talent out there :D

- Arts, culture and film are regarded as a field with a relatively good equality between men and women. Do you, nevertheless, experience differences in how the genders are treated?
I don’t know if there is equality in the industry? In general, in my personal experience it does feel quite okay. But perhaps there are some bumps in the road that I currently think are connected to being a young director, but when I look back at it I might realise they are connected to gender instead? I can’t put that into perspective yet.

When I look at the history (e.g., in the past women were not allowed to be animators at Disney, and only recently the first short film directed by a woman was released by Pixar) and when I hear stories (like the #metoo movement or about John Lassiter) then it’s clear there is still some work ahead of us. But I do also feel that there are some people actively trying to create awareness and work out a balance, for all genders - man, woman, non-binary, and anything else on the spectrum.

- Is there something like a "women’s film"? Do you see differences in how men and women are telling things in their films?
t’s such a difficult question, because one can only truly interpret things from their own perspective. What one person defines as 'male' someone else might define as 'female', right? especially when you start looking at different cultures! Unless you use western stereotyping without challenging that system, but that doesn’t inspire me very much. I don’t necessarily see differences in how men and women tell things in their films myself, but maybe that says more about me than about the films and the director’s intention.

- Would you like to (again) see some kind of "feminist film movement" or would a "cat film movement" be the better idea? ;)
Why not both? :D I would define a feminist film movement as a movement that strives towards more understanding towards all genders, by encouraging and showing more diversity. That does sound good, doesn’t it? In animation there are some groups actively creating awareness, like “Women in animation” and “Les femmes s’animent”, so hooray for them!

- Thank you very much, Britt! Enjoy the festival!