Women’s History Month: Joanna Quinn


Joanna Quinn is one of Britain’s most distinctive animators. Her first film, Girls Night Out (1987), featuring working-class heroine Beryl, was a humorous riposte to machismo and a celebration of uninhibited female sexuality that won three major awards at Annecy. Since introducing audiences to Beryl, Joanna and her writing and producing partner, Les Mills, have created three more personal films about her: Body Beautiful, Dreams and Desires: Family Ties, and Beryl’s newest adventure, Affairs of the Art. The politics of gender and oppression, along with Joanna’s obsessive fascination and delight with exploring the eccentricities of the female body, remain the central themes of their work together. Her films—including Britannia, a savage indictment of British imperialism—have won just about every major international award, including BAFTAs and Emmys, in addition to receiving two Oscar® nominations.

When was the first time you realised you wanted to make films?

I first I realised I wanted to make films was in my first year at college. I was on a Graphic design course at Middlesex university back in the late 1980’s. We all had to do an animation project. I chose to draw a dog walking because our teacher said avoid legs at all costs, so I chose an animal with four of them (I’ve always been a bit stubborn!) When I filmed my drawings for the first time and watched the legs actually walking I felt like GOD! I still remember the overwhelming joy of making my drawings come to life and I knew right then that this is what I wanted to do for ever – make animated films.

What was the last project you worked on / made?

We have just finished a 16 minute animated film called Affairs of the Art. It took years to make and stars Beryl who actually first appeared in my graduation film Girls Night Out. This is the 4th Beryl film and this time she becomes an artist. It was released in January and is now on the festival circuit – sadly online until the pandemic subsides.

What are you up to now? What is the next project you’re working on?

I am still recovering from finishing the last film but have started to get itchy fingers about making a new film but this time something very short and quick to make! Presently I’m doing a lot of online presentations and teaching which I love!

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Check out the many other female filmmakers telling unique stories in Wales here.