More than a year's worth of work, 1,200 paintings and thousands of hours creating are boiled down into four minutes worth of visuals and a timeless talking piece.
Those are the elements at play in Jenn Strom's new short animation film Assembly, which will be shown Oct. 10 and 11 as part of the Vancouver International Film Festival.
Clocking in at just over four minutes, the film features two contrasting sets of imagery: a woman's hand is shown splicing together rolls of film against a backdrop of other women protesting, being arrested or marching in solidarity.
Though much of the film focuses on the fight for women's rights, the concepts of isolation and empowerment are meant to appeal to a wider audience.
"That's something that just about everybody can relate to and that was really important to me because a lot of people feel like the battle is over," said Strom, a Coquitlam native who has since relocated to Vancouver. "It's not really over, but it's come a long way."
The National Film Board (NFB) of Canada production serves, in part, as an homage to Kathleen Shannon, the founder of NFB's Studio D. It was in that studio, and through Shannon's works, that women's talents and issues were brought to the forefront in the 1970s.
When initially approached with the project, Strom was unfamiliar with Shannon's work or the legacy left behind by the filmmakers working out of Studio D. It was in the research phase, and after watching Gerry Rogers' film Kathleen Shannon: On Film, Feminism & Other Dreams, that the realities of yesteryear hit home.
"I'm definitely of the generation that didn't really feel their first-hand struggles, so for me it was shocking to see actual evidence tied to specific years about what people's attitudes were," Strom said.
"The struggles that she faced trying to change people's perceptions about the validity of women's stories - they were interesting and they were worth telling. That was a battle. Now, we take that for granted."
Strom's film was created through an almost mind-numbingly painstaking process, one that required an antiquated piece of gear that was exceedingly hard to come by - a Steenbeck flatbed editing machine.
Once the machine was tracked down, footage from old Studio D films was used to supply the images seen on the Steenbeck monitor, which were then individually painted over by Strom - about 1,200 in all.
Oil paint and dry erase marker on glass were used, and the images were then photographed using a digital camera and stop-motion software. From there, those images were compiled together via Photoshop and other editing software.
The result is what is referred to as a paint-on-glass film.
"It was very meditative. I really wanted to do something where instead of working with a computer, I was working with my hands and real art supplies," Strom said.
"Yes, I went crazy, but I also signed myself up for that."
And while the images help convey the story, so do the few words that are used in the film.
Terms like "invalidated," "naïve" and "too emotional" splash across the screen as the women in the film are shown protesting and marching.
The film winds down with Shannon's voice proclaiming, "We have to stop being invalidated by people that call us idealistic or naïve or too emotional or all these other things that are said to silence the brilliance of ordinary people."
"It's important to me that people walk away with both a sense of the journey of feminist filmmaking - or that there has been a journey - and that example of a journey applies to the ability for anybody to use their voice," Strom said.
Assembly is being shown today (Wednesday), at Empire Granville 7 Cinemas, located at 855 Granville St. in Vancouver. Show time is 9: 15 p.m.
A Thursday viewing is also being offered at 3: 45 p.m. at Pacific Cinémathèque, located at 1131 Howe St. in Vancouver.
For more information, see http: //jennstrom.com.