MyFrenchFilmFestival Short Directors: Sarah Van Den Boom

Van den Boom Ìn Deep Waters’ produced by Papy3D Productions, producer of Oscar short-listed ‘The Head Vanishes’

Sarah Van Den Boom
Courtesy: Sarah Van Den Boom

Using 2D animation set against photographed backgrounds and also fragments of oil painted animation, gifted Paris-based animator-illustrator Sarah Van Den Boom’s “In Deep Waters,” which plays UniFrance’s 7th MyFrenchFilmFestival, is a recent example of France’s high animation standards.

It’s also another feather in the cap for her production company Papy3D whose“The Head Vanishes,” directed  by Franck Dion, has made the 10-pic Oscar shortlist, as well as winning best short film at the Annecy International Animation Festival.

“Waters” turns on two babies who forge a close bond in the womb and the consequences this has for the adult life of one of them. An exploration of the Vanishing Twin Syndrome, the short format straddles both 2D and stop-motion techniques.

“My new short is about a 60-year-old woman farmer who realizes very late that she has sacrificed her life to conform to a model that does not fit her. She has an owl face and an owl soul,” Van Den Boom commented.

Co-produced by Paris’ Papy3D Productions and Canada’s ONF-NFB, “Waters” has screened at over 50 festivals, collecting plaudits such as the 2015 Annecy Festival’s Connexion Award-Région Rhône-Alpes, a Spirit Award for animation at the 2016 Brooklyn Film Festival, and a Second National Award at the 2015 Lille Short Film Festival.

Van Den Boom worked as an animator, assistant animator, and character designer, as well as directing commercials for Acme Filmworks. In 2006, she founded her own production company Papy3D, alongside producer Richard Van Den Boom and directors Gilles Cuvelier (“Love Patate”), Dion (“Edmond Was A Donkey”) and Jeremy Clapin (“Palmipédarium”) as well as composer Pierre Paillet – “a six-headed hydra” team, as Van Den Boom called it. Papy3D’s production rhythm is to make two-or-three shorts per year. It now aims to expand into features and TV-series in the future.

Papy3D’s credits also include Christophe Gérard’s “Child Dream,” a best animated short winner at the 2016 Amsterdam Klik! festival.

Van Den Boom acknowledges a strong influence of Japanese anime helmer Satoshi Kon (“Millennium Actress”) – “I don’t know if it ever showed in my films but I love the humanity and sobriety of Japanese animation” –  and Canadian animation director Frédéric Back (“The Man Who Planted Trees”). And “now, that I’m slowly drifting into stop-motion, I would say that Wes Anderson is my absolute hero. I love the way he mixes mock-ups and live action,” she said.

Van Den Boom’s prior shorts are “Novecento, Pianist” and “The Skeleton Woman,” both in competition at Annecy.