Annecy: ‘Funan,’ ‘Bloeistraat 11,’ ‘Dam Keeper’ Triumph at Buoyant Festival

Nora Twomey’s ‘The Breadwinner’ sweeps three top plaudits

ANNECY, France — Denis Do’s semi-autobiographical story, set against the Khmer Rouge’s brutal reign-of-terror, took the top Cristal at the 2018 Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival.

Nora Twomey’s “The Breadwinner,” a moral co-victor, swept three awards, including two key trophies: the Annecy Audience Award, the statue that really counts for distributors and sales agents, and the festival’s Jury Award.

In other top distinctions, Nienke Deutz “Bloeistraat 11,” fruit of the flowering Flanders school of animation, scooped the top Cristal for a short film at a festival which places a large emphasis on briefer formats.

As for TV, two episodes of Tonko House’s “PIG: The Dam Keeper Poems”: “Yellow Flower” and “Hello Nice to Meet You” snagged the Cristal for top TV series.

PIG: The Dam Keeper Poems "Yellow Flower", "Hello Nice to Meet You"
CREDIT: Annecy Intl. Film Festival

This year’s preeminent festival awards validate the two biggest artistic trends noticeable at a vibrant 2018 Annecy meet. An increase in the number of feature films with a political dimension and the ever fuller emergence of animation from women filmmakers which explores both their sexuality and relation with their body.

Curiously, both “Funan” and “The Breadwinner” portray families wrenched apart by repressive regimes, against backgrounds of often stunning beauty.

There, maybe, their similarities end. Voiced by Bérénice Bejo, star of the Academy Award winning “The Artist,” and Louis Garrel (“Mon Roi”), “Funan” records the epic attempt of the director’s own mother to find her other son after being separated from him during a forced march to a labor camp with the fall of Phnom Penh in 1975. Les Films d’Ici (“Waltz with Bashir”), Bac Cinema (“Human Capital”) and Lunanime (“Phantom Boy”) produce. Bac  Films handles international sales and distribution in France.

Produced by Paul Young at Cartoon Saloon (“The Secret of Kells,” “Song of the Sea”), Canada’s Aircraft Pictures’ and Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions “The Breadwinner” was acquired for U.S. distribution by Gkids, going on to snag an Academy Award nomination for best animated feature.

An ode to imagination, the hand-drawn 2D “The Breadwinner” chronicles how a young Afghan girl cuts her hair and dresses up as a boy in order to support her family after the Taliban imprison her father. Angelina Jolie is one of “The Breadwinner’s” executive producers.

CREDIT: Annecy Intl. Film Festival

“Bloeistraat 11” is made in 2D, produced by Belgium’s Lunanime, co-producers of “Phantom Boy” and 2018 competition contender “Funan.” But this is 2D with an edge, and psychological observance as two young BFF girl’s sorority is pried apart by the onset of puberty, with one taking up with the other’s brother.

Another prize-winning short at Annecy, Martina Scarpelli’s “Egg,” black and white hand-drawn animation takes that observance of women’s physical plight much further in its portrait of anorexia, seen in a woman’s horror at the eating and digestion of an egg.

Tonko House’s “Pig: The Dam Keeper” is the serialization of the company’s Oscar-nominated short “The Dam Keeper.” The series follows characters Pig, Fox and Hippo, whose stories and personalities have been fleshed out across multiple platforms, including an upcoming graphic novel. With no dialogue, it relies on crisp visuals, bright sound effects and an emotionally diverse original score.

One of the biggest winners, of shorts, on Saturday night, “Weekends” marks Pixar story artist Trevor Jiménez’s take on life as a young kid shuttling between recently divorced parents, mixing surreal dream-like moments with the domestic realities of a broken-up family. Produced through the Pixar Co-op Program, the short, which rings very true, captures cherished moments alone with mom and dad before or after both move on to new partners.

Of other feature film competition nods, the jury awarded a distinction to the Berlinale Caligari Prize Winner “The Wolf House,” a visually shape-shifting stop-motion nightmare-fairy tale from Chile’s Cristobal León and Joaquín Cociña. Inchoate as “The Wolf House” may seem as political commentary, here is a feature unwilling which takes a fairy tale to a very different place.

The 2018 Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival ran June 11-16.

Pictured, top: “Funan”

2018 ANNECY INTL. ANIMATION FILM FESTIVAL

OFFICIAL SELECTION WINNERS

FEATURE FILMS

CRISTAL FOR A FEATURE FILM

“Funan,” (Denis Do, Belgium, Cambodia, France, Luxembourg)

AUDIENCE AWARD/ PREMIERE

“The Breadwinner,” (Nora Twomey, Canada, Ireland, Luxemburg)

JURY DISTINCTION

“The Wolf House,” (Cristóbal León, Joaquín Cociña, Chile)

JURY AWARD

“The Breadwinner,” (Nora Twomey, Canada, Ireland, Luxemburg)

SHORT FILMS

CRISTAL FOR A SHORT FILM

Bloeistraat 11,” (Nienke Deutz, Belgium, The Netherlands)

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Weekends,” (Trevor Jimenez, U.S.A)

JURY DISTINCTION

“Cyclistes,” (Veljko Popovic, Croatia, France)

JEAN-LUC XIBERRAS AWARD FOR A FIRST SHORT

“Egg,” (Martina Scarpelli, France, Denmark)

JURY AWARD

“Weekends,” (Trevor Jimenez, U.S.A.)

TV FILMS & SPECIALS

CRISTAL FOR A TV PRODUCTION

“PIG: The Dam Keeper Poems,” Episodes: “Yellow Flower,” “Hello Nice to Meet You,” (Erick Oh, U.S.A., Japan)

JURY AWARD FOR A TV SERIES

“We Bare Bears,” Episode: “Panda’s Art” (Daniel Chong, U.S.A.)

JURY AWARD FOR A TV SPECIAL

“The Robot Chicken Walking Dead Special: Look Who’s Walking,” (Thomas Shepppard, U.S.A.)

TV AND COMMISSIONED FILMS

CRISTAL FOR A COMMISIONED FILM

Leica “Everything in Black and White” (Mateus de Paula Santos, Brazil)

JURY AWARD

Mark Lotterman “Happy,” (Alice Saey, France, The Netherlands)

GRADUATION FILMS

CRISTAL FOR A GRADUATION FILM

“Barbeque,” (Jenny Jokela, U.K.)

JURY DISTINCTION

“Hybrids,” (Florian Brauch, Matthieu Pujol, Kim Tailhades, Yohan Thireau, Romain Thirion, France)

JURY AWARD

“Inanimate,” (Lucia Bulgheroni, U.K.)

ANIMATION OFF-LIMITS

SHORT FILMS (TIED)

“An Excavation of Us,” (Shirley Bruno, France, Greece, Haiti)

“Boy Transcoded from Phosphene,” (Rodrigo Faustini, Brazil)

HONORARY CRISTAL

Brad Bird

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