Get to Know Indie Filmmakers Michel Cournoyer

In this series, we will introduce you to some of the most interesting independent animators working today who, through their short films and other projects, are changing our ideas about what the medium of animation can do.

This week's topic is Canadian animator Michèle Cournoyer. He is the first Canadian animator to receive the prestigious Governor General's Award for Visual and Media Arts.

In a nutshell Deeply personal and raw, Cournoyer's metamorphic black-and-white films make the viewer uncomfortable and take them to places they know but rarely want to admit.

Where to Start: The Hat (1999). An exotic dancer performs in front of a shapeless figure wearing a black hat as she recalls being abused as a child. With excellent editing, the film has no cuts, only metamorphoses of memories, objects, and figures that flit and dance through a hell our minds cannot comprehend.

Next to watch: Soif (2014). A dance macabre in a bottle, "Soif" is about a woman's relationship with the age-old demon, alcohol. She sways, stumbles, and eventually nearly drowns in a life steeped in alcohol.

Other major works: The Artist (1994), Accordion (2004), War Clothes (2008)

Influences: Jacques Drouin, Pierre Eberle, Pablo Picasso.

He says: "Inspiration begins with a physical vision, which becomes an obsession and the subject matter of the film. I use the brush to create the first storyboard depicting the subject of the film. There is a kind of back and forth between writing, animation, and editing. Everything happens a little bit simultaneously."

Currently in production: a new short film about death and love.