A spirited young woman persuades a hyena from London Zoo to take her place at a dreaded dinner dance being held in her honour. Their plan requires a surprising amount of artistry and violence.

THE DEBUTANTE is based on a short story written by the artist Leonora Carrington, who was presented at the court of King George V and herself became a debutante in 1936. Elizabeth Hobbs celebrates Carrington’s bold and funny story with ink, paint and collage, accompanied by a score by composer Hutch Demouilpied.

Director's Statement

'The Debutante' is a brilliant, funny and wild story written by the artist Leonora Carrington in the late 1930s. She wrote the story while she was living in exile in France and chose to write in French, her second language, a decision which contributed to the direct language and eccentric dialogue. I was drawn to this story because I understand Carrington’s urgent rebellion and admire how succinctly she expresses it. I love the tension between the society dining room and her place of escape, London Zoo. The film is animated with ink and paint on paper, with some collage and cut-out animation, captured under a rostrum camera. I’ve also used rotoscoping to summon up the glamour of the 1930s, which is when the story is set. The film is my tribute to an extraordinary artist, who’s courage, feminism and connection to the natural world are an inspiration to us even now.

Cast & Crew

Directed by: Elizabeth Hobbs

Written by: Elizabeth Hobbs

Produced by: Abigail Addison

Editing: Mark Jenkins

Original Score: Hutch Demouilpied

Sound: Hutch Demouilpied, Rory Hunter, Eugénie Dunster

Animation: Elizabeth Hobbs

Cast: Alexa Davies (Hyena), Naomi Stafford (The (younger) Debutante), Joanna David (The (older) Debutante / Mother)

Nominations and Awards

  • Short Film Candidates 2023