LILLE, France – “The Breadwinner” director Nora Twomey and “The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe” directors Christian Bøving-Andersen and Eva Lee Wallberg took top honors at Saturday night’s second edition of the European Animation Awards (EAA) in Lille, France, scooping best feature and best TV/broadcast production respectively.
It was an evening of beautiful mishaps, as the streets of Lille were a mix of brave and peaceful civilian protesters gathered just blocks away from holiday carolers, singing with their children in their arms. The awards ceremony lost their WiFi connection, had all of the glassware stolen for the winners’ after party, and in the most headscratching passage of the evening, contestants for Miss France were paraded into the ceremony, where a number admitted knowing little-to-nothing about animation.
In spite of the snafus, or perhaps elevated by them, the evening was buzzing with humor, charm and a collection of animated content that would be hard to match anywhere else in the world.
The Emile Awards — named after France’s Emile Reynaud who made the four-minute animated short “Poor Pierrot” in 1892 and Emile Cohl, who shot a hand-drawn comedy “Fantasmagorie” in 1908 film for Gaumont — ran in partnership with the region’s Fête de l’anim’ animation festival for the first time this year. The two programs coordinated on a weekend jam-packed with master-classes, screenings, awards, and of course, loads of cartoons.
Here are a few highlights from the weekend’s festivities, as well as a complete list of the all the EAA prize-winners.
The Big Bread-Winners
The biggest winner on the night came from the TV/broadcast section, where the Danish-U.K. co-production “The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe” swept the best direction, best storyboard, best character animation and best background and character design awards. The series of ten, three-minute shorts features Ivandoe and Bert, two companions captured and bound by a hardcore pink poodle. It was commissioned by Cartoon Network Studios Europe and produced in Denmark by Sun Creature. There has been no news about a season two yet, but after a Bafta nomination two weeks ago and tonight’s awards, the series’ team is hopeful they may get to head back into the woods with Ivandoe and his friends.
Other TV/broadcast awards were handed out for best writing –Kim Fupz Aakeson and Ida Mule Scott, “Vitolo,” best soundtrack –Yan Volsy and Pablo Pico, “A Man is Dead,” and best sound design – Célia Sayaphoum “Athleticus – Middle-Distance Running”
In feature film, Nora Twomey and “The Breadwinner” team scored an impressive haul of their own, scooping best direction, best storyboarding, best character animation and best background and character design in a film. The film was a huge favorite heading into the night, having already scoring the jury and audience awards at Annecy in June, a best independent feature award L.A.’s Annie Awards, and nominations at the Golden Globes and Academy Awards, among many, many others.
“It was amazing being nominated in this category, especial with so many amazing political films. Nobody makes feature films like Europe,” Twomey said as she received the best directing award. “It’s an incredible honor to be part of this industry, part of this artform. If there are young female directors out there in the crowd tonight, I would say, don’t listen to that huge voice in your head that tells you ‘You can’t do it!’ because you absolutely can.”
“Funan,” the story of a young mother trying to reunite her family during the Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia, saw writers Denis Do and Magali Pouzol scoop best writing, and Nicolas Leroy, Michel Schillings and Nicolas Tran Trong score best sound design. Best soundtrack went to Mikel Salas for his composing on the animated telling of Ryszard Kapuscinski’s book of the same name, “Another Day of Life.”
A Different Kind of Awards Program
The Emiles are unique in that they were designed, from the beginning, to recognize the talent behind the art, rather than the art itself, or the people who paid for it. There is no best feature film category, no best series or student film. Rather, the awards are doled out to the directors, engineers, storyboarders and animators, among others, who have elevated the art form of animation over the past year.
A Lifetime of Achievement Awarded
Clare Kitson, former national film theater programmer and TV executive, who championed animation as art in the ‘80s and ‘90s at the U.K.’s Channel 4, hosted a masterclass on Friday afternoon, and was honored on Saturday night with the Lotte Reiniger Lifetime Achievement Award. At the ceremony, a video featuring a number of the animators who were given their first big break by Kitson was screened before she took the stage and humbly accepted the award.
“What I did was to be lucky enough to find myself working for a television channel, Channel 4, that at that time, had the money, and wanted to spend it on animation,” she explained. “At that time that was pretty rare. I was a sort of funnel. And it was at a time of great, burgeoning talent anyway. I sort of funneled the money into the talent, and I really didn’t do much.”
Although the modesty was sincere, few in the room accepted it, least of all Aardman co-founder and EAA president Peter Lord, who himself was a beneficiary of Kitson’s eye for animation as an art form.
Speaking of Peter Lord…
While carolers sang outside, fans of stop motion – or Claymation, or puppets, even Lord admits that he has never been sure how to refer to the work they do at famed U.K. studio Aardman Animations – were singing the praises of festival co-founder and president Peter Lord. On Saturday afternoon, he held a masterclass which covered the now 42-year history of Aardman Animations, the changes he has seen in the industry since co-founding the studio, and where he thinks hand-made stop motion may be headed. In his opinion, it’s likely to be VOD platforms.
“Right now seems like a boom time for animation because these (VOD) platforms are commissioning animation. I take great heart from that,” he said, before cautioning, “I don’t like the idea of gold-rush, boom town and people shooting their guns in the air screaming ‘We’re rich!’ I don’t trust that. We are in it for the long term.”
What’s not to Laika?
This year the Fête de l’anim’ extended its boarders and invited U.S. stop-motion producers Laika as the official studio of honor. The studio is responsible for films such as “Coraline,” “ParaNorman” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.” Their upcoming film “The Missing Link” is scheduled to release next year, and stars Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, and Zach Galifianakis, and was one of the most talked-about films in production at this year’s Annecy festival. Animator Ludovic Berardo represented the studio and shared behind-the-scenes secrets from the studio’s productions and the studio itself.
La Fête de l’anim’ Highlights Local Production
Noranim, an alliance of producers, studios, schools, filmmakers and festivals which works to promote animated content and the development of that industry in the Hauts-de-France region, hosted a screening of some of the best content being created in the area on Friday night. Among the titles were Little Malabar, a preschool series based in science and astronomy produced by Tchack; Cyber Group Studios cat-and-mouse, or in this case dog-and-raccoon, series “Taffy”; and The Visual Clutter’s super hero themed feature in progress, “Mythomen.”
2018 EUROPEAN ANIMATION AWARD WINNERS
FEATURE FILM COMPETITION
BEST DIRECTION IN A FEATURE PRODUCTION
Nora Twomey, (“The Breadwinner,” Ireland, Luxembourg, Canada)
BEST WRITING IN A FEATURE FILM
Denis Do, Magali Pouzol (“Funan,” France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Cambodia)
BEST STORYBOARD IN A FEATURE FILM
Giovanna Ferrari, Julien Regnard, Stuart Shankly (“The Breadwinner,” Ireland, Luxembourg, Canada)
BEST CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A FEATURE FILM
Fabian Erlinghäuser, John Walsh, Lorraine Lordan, Jeremy Purcell, Viktor Ens, Nicolas Debray, Geoff King, Emmanuel Asquier-Brassart (“ The Breadwinner”)
BEST BACKGROUND & CHARACTER DESIGN IN A FEATURE FILM
Ciaran Duffy, Réza Riàhi (art directors), Sandra Andersen (character designer) (“The Breadwinner”)
BEST SOUNDTRACK IN A FEATURE FILM
Mikel Salas, (“Another Day of Life,” Poland, Spain, Belgium, Germany)
BEST SOUND DESIGN IN A FEATURE FILM
Nicolas Leroy, Michel Schillings, Nicolas Tran Trong (“Funan”)
BEST DIRECTION IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Christian Bøving-Andersen, Eva Lee Wallberg (“The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe,” Denmark)
BEST WRITING IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Kim Fupz Aakeson, Ida Mule Scott, (“Vitello – Vitello Gets a Yucky Girlfriend,” Denmark)
BEST STORYBOARD IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Kenneth Ladekjær, Eva Lee Wallberg (“The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe”)
BEST CHARACTER ANIMATION IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Tina Lykke Thorn, Henrik Sønniksen, Mikkel Vedel, Eva Lee Wallberg (“The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe”)
BEST BACKGROUND & CHARACTER DESIGN IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Mikkel Sommer, Birk Von Brockdorff (“The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe”)
BEST SOUNDTRACK IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Yan Volsy, Pablo Pico, (“A Man is Dead,” France)
BEST SOUND DESIGN IN A TV / BROADCAST PRODUCTION
Célia Sayaphoum (“Athleticus – Middle-distance running,” France)
STUDENT, COMMISSIONED AND SHORT FILM AWARDS
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN A STUDENT FILM
Anna Mantzaris (“Enough,” United Kingdom)
BEST DIRECTION IN AN ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Emma De Swaef, Marc James Roels (“ This Magnificent Cake!” Belgium, France, Netherlands)
BEST BACKGROUND & CHARACTER DESIGN IN AN ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Gilles Cuvelier (“(Fool Time) Job,” France)
BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN A COMMISSIONED FILM
Magnus Igland Møller (“A most precise and nuanced look into the life of the man, legend and visionary – Martin Luther,” Denmark)
LOTTE REINIGER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD