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Esteu aquí: Inici Magazine Interview with Rocío Álvarez, director of “Simbiosis Carnal” (Animac 2018’s Audience Award)

Interview with Rocío Álvarez, director of “Simbiosis Carnal” (Animac 2018’s Audience Award)

Valencian artist Rocío Álvarez is a plastic artist and animation director trained in Fine Arts in Valencia and in Rome. After exploring the fields of painting and urban installations, she specializes in animation and joins the school La Poudrière in Valence (France), where her graduation film “Ecart de Conduite” (2012) has a good run in numerous international festivals and was selected for the Cartoon d’Or 2013. Now in Brussels, she’s worked on the development of TV series like “Interlaine” or “Street Driver”, in the Belgian studio L’Enclume, and directed animated portraits for France Music. Her latest short film, present in Animac 2018 and selected for competition in Annecy 2018, “Simbiosis Carnal” (2017), is a poetic exploration of sexuality by missing different experimental techniques.

rocío álvarez - premi del públic

Animac Magazine: How have your formative years influenced your current work? In other words, did they leave a footprint in your path as an animator?

Rocío Álvarez: I think they have strongly influenced me while looking for strong graphic ideas for each one of my films: I take a lot of care of art style, gesture, or expression through the line. They’ve also influenced my work in terms of experimenting with textures, something I’m really passionate about. And I guess it affects my content as well: I want to take it to the extreme and go beyond the uncommon.

Animac Magazine: What did you learn during your time at La Poudrière animation school? We would love to know more about your experience, your mentors…

Rocío Álvarez: La Poudrière comprises two years of intense training. I learned a lot about planning a short film production, which always means much more work than one might think at first. Exercises are very complete, as we approached many disciplines, such as sound design and editing, how to write a good script, directing voice talent, how to adapt a children’s book to a TV series… Besides, we have our own personal short films and a feature film project. It was a true privilege for me, since we were just a few students and, in every exercise, we were mentored by animation professionals. These mentors visited the school just a day, or maybe a week or two - there are no full-time teachers. The school also invites producers or TV network professionals to give us advice on our projects in developments. It’s not easy to get into this animation school, but I definitely recommend it.

Animac Magazine: How was your short film “Écart de Conduite” born? Is it an autobiographical piece?

Rocío Álvarez: Hehe, of course it’s somewhat autobiographical. I tried getting my driving license in Spain, but I didn’t pass, and then I joined the animation school in France. The following summer, I tried again before my theory test expired and… I failed again. It annoyed me quite a lot - I was furious! But then it occurred to me that, in truth, all of that had a funny comedic component I could explore.

Getting your driving license is a challenging test that stresses out a lot of people, it has its own codes, and overall it feels really melodramatic. So, it made me stir myself and get to work. But hey, I’m not the main character: it’s completely fictional (I swear!). I tried pushing the main characters to the limit to extract more comedy. The most difficult aspect was the script – and finding a proper ending. Now I have my driving license, at last: I got it in Brussels, after some attempts…

Animac Magazine: What does Belgium (and the animation studio L’Enclume) offer for an international animator like you?

Rocío Álvarez: I live in Brussels, and I love it: it’s such a multicultural, mixed city. There are so many art events, concerts, exhibits, parties… They’re very free people and I guess that inspires me a lot. There are many animation studios and companies and, if you’re relatively talented, I think it’s possible to find a job and work for animated TV series or feature film projects. For the moment, I prefer to develop my personal projects. And, in order to pursue those, there are certain grants and aids to film development - for instance, the Féderation Wallonie-Bruxelles - that are hard to get, but not impossible. I had one for the production of “Simbiosis Carnal”. It’s like everything - the art world is always a world of contests and dossiers.

Animac Magazine: “Simbiosis Carnal” fascinates us: we see it as a holistic, mutant exploration of sensuality, where we see all kinds of creatures (including humans) and their mating rituals. What made you want to explore such a visceral theme? We would love to know more about the creative process of your latest short film.

Rocío Álvarez: At first, the idea was born as an art style. I joined a Fumetto contest, where you had to draw a three-page-long comic with eroticism as a theme. I didn’t win, but certain images of the short film came out from there. I liked those simple, pink and blue figures transforming into animals, and I said to myself that these would look great animated. So, I turned into an animation project. I won the Canal + award for projects at 3D Wire 2014, and then I obtained a residence in Brussels with Zorobabel and Camera-etc. There I realized that the project was working in a visual sense, but it still needed some depth. So I began to research more about the history of sexuality, and how to bring it together with our cellular and animal heritage. And I took the chance to push and defend some themes, such as how female sexuality has been culturally hidden, or how nowadays we live in a hypersexualized world but that doesn’t give us more freedom. I wanted to keep the art style of my first graphic exploration, which were done with diluted acrylic. And I think I succeeded, even though in many shots the finishing touches were done digitally. I experimented quite a bit with textures on paper and direct animation under the camera and other mixtures in order to reach that balance. Regarding music, I worked with two Belgian bands. The first one is very experimental and creative, “Why The Eye?, and they have that primitive, electronic touch that’s so amusing. And the second one is “Flying Chairs”. I chose one of their songs for the short’s ending, which I find very sensual and, at the same time, fun and wild.


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