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‘My Life as a Courgette’ Takes Top Prize At Annecy Film Festival

Following its critically-acclaimed world premiere at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, Claude Barras’s stop-motion feature “My Life as a Courgette” scooped the audience prize and the Crystal award for best animated feature at the 40th Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival.

Written by sceenwriter/director Celine Sciamma (“Girlhood,””Tomboy”) and based on a novel, “Courgette” is about an orphan trying to adapt to life in a group home.

The film has been sold by Indie Sales in most key territories. A U.S. deal is in advanced negotiations. Gebeka Films will release “Courgette” in France.

Sébastien Laudenbach’s feature debut “The Girl Without Hands,” meanwhile, won the jury prize. Loosely based on a fairy tale by the Grimm brothers, “The Girl,” which features a minimalist animation style inspired by Chinese calligraphy, centers on a struggling miller who sells his daughter to the Devil amid harsh times. Protected by her purity, the young girl flees but is deprived of her hands. It premiered at Cannes in the ACID program.

Both “The Girl” and “Courgette” illustrate the strength of French-produced and/or French-directed arthouse animation, as well as the continued popularity of toon features skewing adult audiences — a trend that started blossoming with “Persepolis” and “Waltz With Bashir” nearly a decade ago.

The nine-feature competition lineup included Ann Marie Fleming’s “Window Horses,” Penny Lane’s “Nuts!” and Sang-ho Yeon’s “Seoul Station.”

In the TV section, Siri Melchior’s Danish-British animated show “Lili ‘Lili Loves Food'” won the jury prize for best series; while Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar’s “La Rentrée des classes” won the jury award for best TV special.

The Crystal award for best TV production was given to Jeroen Jaspaert and Daniel Snaddon’s half-hour film “Stick Man,” an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s book which is produced by U.K. shingle Magic Light Pictures, whose credits includes “The Gruffalo.” Sold by Goldcrest Films, “Stick Man” tells the epic journey of a father who sets off to make it home in time for Christmas.

Awesome Beetle’s “Colors de Indra Sproge” won the jury nod for best commissioned film and The New York Times’s “Modern Love – A Kiss, Deferred” from the Moth Collective.

French animation master Didier Brunner (“The Triplets of Belleville,””Ernest and Celestine”) won the honorary award at Annecy.

Festival highlights included Guillermo del Toro’s masterclass, during which the director unveiled unseen footage of “Trollhunters.” Annecy also turned the spotlight on Aardman Animation founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton who received the 2016 MIFA & Variety Animation Personality of the Year Award.

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