Montreal animation artist on her way to Cannes, by way of Mongolia

Alisi Telengut's short film Nutag – Homeland has just been selected by Telefilm Canada to be included in the sixth edition of the Canada: Not Short on Talent showcase at The Cannes Film Festival.

Alisi Telengut's Mongolian background gives her unique view of world

Concordia film graduate, Alisi Telengut, uses the painstaking technique of 'under the camera' animation. Like South African artist, William Kentridge, her films are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and filming again. (courtesy of Alisi Telengut)

From Inner Mongolia to Montreal and now to Cannes.

Since her arrival in Montreal six years ago to study film at Concordia, Mongolian-born Alisi Telengut has gained a reputation for her beautifully crafted animated short films.

Along the way, her work has also been winning numerous international awards and accolades.

Alisi Telengut's latest animated short, Nutag – Homeland, has just been selected by Telefilm Canada to be included in the sixth edition of the Canada: Not Short on Talent showcase at The Cannes Film Festival.

Telengut talked to Cinq à Six host Jeanette Kelly for this week's program. 

Congratulations on being selected to be part of The Cannes Film Festival. How did you feel when you heard the news?

I was really surprised and really happy. There was an element of surprise!    

You were born in Inner Mongolia and then lived in China during your childhood. Six years ago you decided to come to Montreal. What kind of art training did you receive in China?

I didn't have artistic training. I was influenced by my mother because she wanted to be a painter, but went into literature. My father also went into literature. So I was more influenced by them, especially my mother who likes working with colours. In high school there was no formal art training offered, so most of my early training was at home.

Your short film called Nutag – Homeland has been described as a "surrealist requiem" for the Kalmyk people. These are people who were deported to Siberia by Stalin around the end of the Second World War [1943-1957]. Why did you want to tell the story of the Kalmyk people?

When I was very young I heard about the history of the Kalmyk people. They used to be a Mongolian tribe but they moved to the Volga area around 400 years ago... During World War Two they, along with 60 other ethnic groups, were deported to Siberia. I could relate to these people because they are the diaspora — they have been scattered around the world. And I consider myself the diaspora, and part of a minority. That's why I relate to these people. Even my name, Alisi, means 'faraway'. I am on a journey looking for myself.

Your work has been greatly influenced by the South African artist William Kentridge. His animated films are constructed by filming a drawing, making erasures and changes and filming it again. Why do you like this technique?

My technique is called "under the camera animation"… I always paint on the same surface. If I make a mistake I have to continue. It's a process where the momentum is always going forward. What I found interesting is that if I made a mistake I can't go back to correct it because the new frame is based on the previous one. It takes a very long time — it took me about a year to finish [the film].

Listen to the full conversation on Cinq à Six Saturday between 5 and 6 p.m. ET on CBC Radio One in Montreal and across the province on the Quebec Community Network.