I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors . Dir. Ann Marie Fleming. DVD. National Film Board of Canada, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

I Was A Child of Holocaust Survivors. Dir. Ann Marie Fleming. DVD. National Film Board of Canada, 2010. Courtesy of the artist.

 

"Memory Migrations: Bringing the Past to Life in Contemporary Animated Film." Department of the History of Art, University College London, 2016.

My doctoral dissertation, "Memory Migrations," explored recent trends in contemporary animated and documentary film practices. In addition to research carried out at various film festivals and animation studios, collaborations with scholars and artists working within film and the visual arts significantly aided in the completion of this work. I am enormously grateful to the researchers and filmmakers who assisted me with this project, including my examiners, Dr. Liz Watkins and Dr. Jann Matlock, and my research supervisors, Dr. Mechthild Fend and Dr. Rose Marie San Juan.

Included here is my dissertation abstract.


ABSTRACT

Memory Migrations: Bringing the Past to Life in Contemporary Animated Film

Animation plays with time and space. The image can be moved forward or backward. It can be built upon. It can be erased. Cinema scholar Alan Cholodenko posits that the act of animating – of endowing the inanimate with motion and life – “cannot be thought without thinking loss, disappearance, and death.” In this research, I focus on four animated shorts produced between 1992 and 2010 that have capitalized on the medium's potential, each returning to the outmoded form of hand-drawn animation to revive the past: Michael Fukushima's Minoru: Memory of Exile (1992); Mark Middlewick, Samantha Nell, and Anna-Sofia Nylund's A Kosovo Fairytale (2009); Ann Marie Fleming's I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (2010); and Marie-Margaux Tsakiri-Scanatovits' My Mother's Coat (2010). Beyond their visual ties, the films connect thematically. Each unfolds as a familial narrative in which one generation passes its experience onto the next. Each chronicles geographical movements and cultural dislocations, often the result of war and exile. Heavily personalized, each film was crafted by the children of the main protagonists and by extension becomes an autobiographical exploration of heritage.

This dissertation contends that these cinematic productions signal a larger trend within filmic representations of the past, which – rather than attempting to reconstruct sweeping historical narratives – employs the medium of animation to highlight stories of individual experience and memory. This study considers how each film operates strategically to visualize remembrance, more broadly asking why animation has become a privileged form to do so. It is an investigation into the intricate connections between art and life and a consideration of how the works produced are corporeally bonded to their modes of making, to history, and to family. It is an examination of the ways these films negotiate the past from generation to generation and an inquiry into how personal stories may become collectively shared.