Animator and filmmaker Anna Ginsburg tackles the birds and the bees with playful aplomb in her latest film, which sees her animated interviewees talk honestly about sex, female orgasms and the enigmatic clitoris. Anna’s film has been created as part of It’s Nice That’s partnership with Channel 4 Random Acts, where we’ve commissioned a series of films with five of the most exciting filmmakers working in the industry today. As part of Random Act’s expansion it has launched a new TV show for the first time in which our films will feature. You can catch Anna’s film in the show’s second episode which aired last night and can be caught up with on All 4 now.
The idea for Anna Ginsburg’s film Private Parts was inspired by a personal concern about the lack of acknowledgement of female pleasure in our society. “Conversations I’ve had with close female and male friends over the last decade have shed light on the continuing struggle that women have to engage with and love their own bodies, and to access the sexual pleasure they are capable of,” says Anna. “I’ve been exposed to ‘dick drawings’ since primary school but have rarely, if ever, seen a vagina visualised other than in a clinical medical context. So I thought that talking to men and women about vaginas, masturbation and pubic hair – and then animating them as talking genitals – would be a good place to start in my crusade to open up these issues of sexual inequality and get the conversation started.”
The content and issues raised in Anna’s film are tackled with humour and an openness that give both Anna and her subjects’ concerns space to be heard. This frank dialogue is an underlying theme in Anna’s film: “Communication is the key to improving sexual confidences and sexual relationships,” she explains. “This documentary does not give any answers it just presents the sexual struggles, insecurities and successes of a range of people.”
Anna interviewed 22 people for the film and despite some awkward starts she found people eventually warmed up. “Usually it was just a case of talking to the person and giving them enough time to relax and adjust to the fact they were being recorded,” says Anna. “I found interviewing people in small groups worked well as people would be encouraged by each others’ honesty and often get over-excited and hysterical which led to entertaining interactions.”
The film took five weeks to complete with Anna and 14 other animators each taking an anecdote and then characterising each voice as a talking genital. “As a montage of intimate self-expression, it made sense for this multitude of real voices to be visualised by a range of my favourite animators and designers,” Anna explains. “The diversity of styles emphasise the wide range of people and attitudes being expressed.”
Having individual characters for each of the voices did throw up some challenges. “I had to establish some kind of creative unity between all of the sections. Although I wanted to embrace everyone’s stylistic individuality I didn’t want the film to be a mess,” she says. “Through developing a colour for Private Parts and leaving enough time to do some morphs and animated transitions between shots we were able to weave the different styles together.”
The film’s aesthetic is energetic, warm and funny with a hand-drawn feel, but Anna was keen to make sure it was also “technically precise enough to communicate subtle human emotion,” she says. “Details like the foreskin, pubic hair and labia are used to give each penis and vagina a specific character, reflecting the specific human voice it embodies.”
Anna felt an animated documentary was the best genre to communicate her ideas: “Drawings are abstract enough to bring the feeling of universality to an individual voice,” the animator says. “The use of animated characters in place of photographic footage works as a protective barrier which can quash ingrained prejudice and allow empathy to flow unobstructed. It is way easier to pass judgement on a person based on a photograph than based on a drawing – even if it is a drawing of a giggling vagina.”
Channel 4 Random Acts showcases three-minute films created by established artists and up-and-coming amateurs, chosen for their bold and original expressions of creativity. To watch weekly Random Acts selections or explore the entire archive, head to the Random Acts website.