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Rémy Schaepman, Didier Brunner’s Folivari, Prepare ‘The Nazis, My Father and Me’

WWII thriller shows European animation opening up in form

A product of one of France’s great film schools, La Poudrière in Valence, southern France, Gallic animation director Rémy Schaepman is aiming, nevertheless, to open up French animation with his feature debut, ‘The Nazis, My Father and Me,’ which is set up at Paris-based Folivari.

Launched in 2014, Folivari is headed by Didier Brunner, whose producer credits include “The Triplets of Belleville” and “Kirikou” franchise.

A family action-adventure movie plus coming-of age tale set in the ‘50s in New York City, “based on a best-selling book from novelist and filmmaker Robert H. Lieberman (“Green Lights”).

Originally presented at Bordeau’s Cartoon Movie by Brunner, Schaepman and novelist and co-scriptwriter Lieberman Brunner,  “Nazis” is set on the eve of WWII. It turns on Stevie, a clever 12-year-old, who is left alone in New York when his father mysteriously disappears after being menaced by two thugs. Unprotected and confused, Stevie doubts his father is a Nazi spy, is hoped by Miriam, a refugee Jewish classmate, to try to unravel the mystery.

“Stevie suddenly has to shift from innocent childhood to adolescence, and even adulthood in some ways, “ Schaepman told Variety.

Also a budding young love story, “Nazi” has been penned by Lieberman, Schaepman and Olivier Legrand.

“We took our inspiration from 1940s and 1950s U.S. comic-books, with their use of ink outlines and black shadows, hence the characters animated in 2D digital animation,” Schaepman said.

He added:  “Because this film deals with spies, tension and high-speed chases, we chose a mise-en-scene quite close to that of live action films, allowing camera movements in a 3D space, while keeping a 2D aspect in the treatment.”

Schaepman mentions diverse personal references in cinema, those working “on different kinds of narration and different styles of mise-en-scene or visual universe. I like every film that brings something new to cinema,” citing at random filmmakers such as Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch, “animation magicians” Paul Grimault and Yuri Norstein.

“The Nazis, My Father and Me” now has a completed screenplay, a  trailer and aims to initiate production first-half 2018.

Before graduating from La Poudrière, Schaepman trained at Paris’ Institute Sainte Geneviève and at Paris’ Gobelins, another prestigious French film school where Guillermo del Toro gave classes just before Annecy.

Schaepman aims to innovate. He is hardly, however, an unknown artist. During his years at Gobelins, Schaepman co-directed short “Dodudindon, which was chosen as the opening short at the Annecy Intl. Animation Festival in 2009. Two years later, at the same festival he took the Special Jury Award for “Trois petits points,” shared with his classmates and co-directors Lucrèce Andreae, Alice Dieudonné, Tracy Nowocien, Florian Parrot and Ornélie Prioul. Solo shorts from Schaepman include “Quidam dégomme,” which won prizes at at the Cinanima, South Beach and Babelgum festivals, “Rideau” and “Playground,” a one-minute short which attracted Brunner who calls Shaepman a “brilliant young artist.”

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