In March 2017, I had the rare pleasure of interviewing Ann Marie Fleming in her lush and inviting East Vancouver home. Her animated feature film Window Horses has received wide acclaim and touches on themes of belonging, love, and familial myths. Due to a concussion sustained while navigating the treacherous streets of the iciest winter in recent memory, she had been forced to sit out several film festivals. Undaunted, she was chipper and welcoming while showing me around her enviable living room. After our conversation, she generously offered to drop me off on her way to a women in media panel she had been invited to at UBC. Her fluid and exquisite mind left me inspired and nourished.
“This film has the highest profile of anything I’ve ever made and it’s talking about poetry and love. Not romantic love. It’s talking about human beings and how we’re all connected and it’s presented by a stick figure wearing a chador. The great thing about Rosie is that she is so totally herself, she can ask the stupid questions and people are just nice to her. They’re trying to open her world. Maybe if we were all that vulnerable that could happen more often. But it’s really hard to make yourself vulnerable.”
For Fleming, serendipity is a constant in her life. While casting for the film (she did all casting by phone so as not to be distracted by appearances) she reached out to her aunt in Honolulu, asking if she might convince Nancy Kwan, who plays Rosie’s grandmother Gloria, to perform in the film. Not only did she agree, but Fleming discovered her grandmother in the UK had babysat Kwan when she was a young girl abandoned by her mother. As she recounts the story, her voice rises with the excitement of discovery.
“All my films are about relationships. I get into them because I’m interested in something that has been introduced by somebody in my life,” she explains. “As an artist, it’s what calls you, it’s what you’re compelled to do. It’s the thing you can’t put down. I tried to put this down many times over the last 20 years but I kept picking it up again because it’s something that I needed to do. I find it hard to do, but I find it impossible to stop.”
The entire interview is available on Northernstars.ca