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Claude Barras’ ‘My Life as a Courgette’ Tops Cartoon Movie

Producers and director takes plaudits at Bordeaux

BORDEAUX France — Switzerland’s Rita Productions and France’s Blue Spirit Productions and Gebeka Films took the European Producer of the Year plaudit for “My Life as a Courgette” at the 2017 edition of Cartoon Movie, which closed Friday in Bordeaux, France.

Switzerland’s Claude Barras, the director of “Courgette,” was also honored with European Director of the Year.

The two awards at Europe’s top dedicated European movie animation co-meet add to a high-profile kudos collection for the stop-motion dramedy which sets it apart as, in prizes and nominations at least, as the most successful European animated feature of the last 12 months.

Awards recognition takes in a nomination for both the 2017 Academy Awards and Golden Globes, César Awards in France for Best Animated Feature and Best Adapted Screenplay, and a Cristal Award for Best Feature and Audience Award at the 2016 Annecy Intl. Animated Film Festival in 2016.

Released in the U.S. as “My Life as a Zucchini” by Gkids, Barras’ movies also scooped Best European Animated Feature at the European Film Awards last December. The trophy count is particularly impressive given the fact that “Courgette” is Barras’ feature debut.

Repped by Nicolas Eschbach’s Paris-based Indie Sales, and adapted from the Gilles Paris’ novel by distinguished French director Celine Sciamma (“Girlhood”), “Courgette” follows the travails of a troubled nine-year-old who is dispatched to an orphanage after the death of his alcoholic mother.

Founded by Pauline Gygax and Max Karli in 2003, Geneva-based Rita Productions produces features films and documentaries. Its productions include Lionel Baier’s “Longwave” and Xavier Beauvois’ 2014 Venice competition contender “The Price of Fame.”

Majority-owned by France’s TF1 Group, its biggest TV network, and owning production studios in French animation hub Angouleme as well as Montreal, France’s Blue Spirit Productions, is well-known for its animated TV shows and features, such as Jean-François Laguionie’s “The Painting.”

Gebeka Films is a French distributor of art films targeting young audiences, including prestige animation titles. Its releases include Michel Ocelot’s “Kirikou and the Sorceress” and Tomm Moore’s “Brendan and the Secret of Kells” In 2017, the company will bow Arthur de Pin’s much-awaited “Zombillenium” in France.

In other prize announcements at Cartoon Movie, Danish arthouse specialist Angel Films received the European Distributor of the Year distinction. Founded in 1988, Angel Films is directed by Mogens Glad and also serve as as production company and sales agent.

Via their label Rabalder Bio., the company has released animated films such as “My Life as a Courgette” as well as recent highlights of French animation such as Jean-Loup Felicioli and Alain Gagnol’s “Phantom Boy” and “Ernest & Celestine,” from Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, and Benjamin Renner, both of which took Academy Award nominations.

According to Cartoon Media sources, these awards aim at rewarding outstanding achievements, companies and personalities that have impacted Europe’s animation industry.

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