originally posted at https://canmom.tumblr.com/post/672665...
Hey, remember the Annecy International Animated Film Festival? That thing whose short films you may have watched earlier this year?
Well, if you want to run a film night and you are a little under the weather, their shortlist backlog is definitely a delightful trove of animated films.
Like all big awards, they tend to come in certain types. You have your big serious drama movies which face up to some big social breaking point or historical atrocity, like Funan (about the Cambodian genocide, which I hope to watch before too long) or Rio 2096 (an excellent and very depressing film about all the unbelievably awful things that happened in Brazil). You’ve got films that take on the same sorts of subjects but in a more oblique stylised way that plays on the strengths of animation for serious emotional impact, like Birdboy: The Forgotten Children (Animation Night 25), Boy and the World (Animation Night 68), or The Wolf House (Animation Night 77) - the kind of thing which is produced only rarely, but tends to be mindblowing when it is.
But there’s another kind of film that tends to do well: a kind of elaborate, character driven European comedy film which tends to get near perfect scores among the critics, who go around saying things like…
“My Life as a Zucchini’s silly title and adorable characters belie a sober story whose colorful visuals delight the senses even as it braves dark emotional depths.”
Lots of belieing going on!
Anyway, tonight I have a couple of films of this ilk from the library, returning to the earlier days of Animation Night where we’d roam the globe every third week instead of the current unpredictable weeb variable (…how long has it been since we actually did anime? …ok two weeks ago if you count Final Fantasy Spirits Within lmao… I wouldn’t because it doesn’t use the characteristic anime production system but some people might find that a rather tendentious definition!)
The first is, indeed, My Life as Courgette (Ma vie de Courgette) or if you’re American, My Life as a Zucchini, which won the award back in 2016. This was the first and so far only feature length film of one Claude Barras, a Swiss stop-motion animator about whom very little seems to be available, at least at a glance, in English. It follows a young stop motion boy nicknamed Courgette, who accidentally kills his mother, and is thus thrown into a custody dispute while living in an orphanage, throwing him into contact with various other orphans - among them Camille, whose parents died of murder-suicide.
I honestly don’t know from the plot summary whether this one’s gonna be great or frustrating, but it certainly has a cute approach to claymation and the nigh unanimous acclaim makes me feel it’s probably worth a shot!
Alongside that, I have Wrinkles (Arrugas), a Spanish film which also focuses on a population who is systemically institutionalised and denied autonomy - this time, old people. Wrinkles focuses on ‘the friendship between two elderly men’ who are roommates at a nursing home. (Is that a wikipedia editor being coy? I guess we’ll find out lol.) The home is characterised by various abuses of power; the top floor houses residents deemed unable to care form themselves who end up straitjacketed or medicated into docility. One of the two, Miguel, habitually exploits and steals from the other residents at the home, which leads to a building conflict… but as the story develops, the pair become involved in an escape attempt with another inmate.
We have not had a lot of Spanish animated films on here, but it would be cool if we could find another film as outstanding as Birdboy. The gif searcher fails me this time, so please, enjoy this trailer from youtube…
Wrinkles is directed by Ignacio Ferreras, but as before, the amount of information I can get this evening is very very slim, but he did apparently work under Sylvain Chomet on The Illusionist just prior to this film. The story and character designs, meanwhile, come from a comic book by Paco Roca, and I can at least direct you to his website - hope your Spanish is good!
Anyway, both of these films are pretty much unknown quantities - but that’s led us to some absolute gems in the past so let’s roll the dice and see if the critics know what they’re about this time! Starting very shortly at https://twitch.tv/canmom - and next week I hope I’ll be in a better frame of mind to produce a really in depth writeup about something ><