Following in the footsteps of previous honorees Brad Bird and Isao Takahata, French filmmaker Jean-François Laguionie will receive the 2019 Honorary Cristal at the Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, which runs June 10-15.
The venerable filmmaker will also be on hand to present his latest offering, “Le Voyage du Prince (The Prince’s Journey),” in a special preview screening on June 11. The film finds him returning to the world he explored with his 1999 feature “A Monkey’s Tale,” this time joined by co-director Xavier Picard.
Taking the form of a travelogue, the sequel finds the previous film’s Prince shipwrecked in an unfamiliar land and wounded from the voyage; once rescued by the sympathetic young chimp Tom and tended back to health by the latter’s researcher parents, the grey Prince and his young friend set off to explore this strange new society.
A so-called “philosophical fable,” the film marries textured 19th century decors designed by Stéphan Roelants’ Melusine Productions with synthesized 3D/2D animation made at the studios of Blue Spirit Productions, in France and Canada. Gebeka Films will release the film on French screens this coming December, while UDI will handle worldwide sales.
“We are very proud to present to the Annecy public the preview of the new film that Jean-François Laguionie made with Xavier Picard”, said Armelle Glorennec, producer and CEO and Eric Jacquot, President of Blue Spirit. “And we are extremely happy to be at his side precisely in the year that this prestigious festival decides to honor this talented author whose we have the pleasure of having produced two of his films”.
Indeed, the TV-focused shingle – a subsidiary of larger content house Newen – took the plunge into feature filmmaking with Laguionie, partnering with this year’s Honorary Cristal awardee for his 2012 film, “The Painting,” which also played in Annecy. Blue Spirit returned to the festival four years later with Claude Barras’ “My Life as a Zucchini,” which took home the Cristal for Feature Film and the Audience Award in 2016.
Melusine Productions is another bastion of multi-prized European 2D/3D arthouse animation, and a production partner on the Academy Award-nominated “Song of the Sea,” “Ernest & Celestine” and “The Breadwinner.”