“I Lost My Body,” the curious story of a disembodied hand searching to reunite with its body, won the grand prize at the Animation is Film Festival, held Oct. 18-20 in Los Angeles. The audience prize was split between two films, Makoto Shinkai’s “Weathering With You” and “The Swallows of Kabul” by Zabou Breitman and Elea Gobbe-Mevellec.
Netflix acquired the worldwide rights to “I Lost My Body,” directed by Jérémy Clapin, after the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May. The French film — which bested its live-action competition to win the top prize in Critics’ Week at Cannes — screened in its original language at Animation Is Film. Netflix has also prepared an English dub featuring the voices of Dev Patel, Alia Shawkat and George Wendt, which will be available to Netflix subscribers on Nov. 29, two weeks after the French version receives its Oscar-qualifying run on Nov. 15.
“The jury salutes ‘I Lost My Body’ for its surprising and original use of animation as a means to tell an unconventional mystery, one in which the main character is a severed hand that experiences a wide range of emotions and adventures without the use of words,” said jury chair — and Variety chief film critic — Peter Debruge. “French director Jérémy Clapin’s uniquefeature uses visual storytelling in inventive ways, presenting the world from an unexpectedperspective while teaching audiences how to interpret this innovative vocabulary as it unfolds.”
In addition, “Marona’s Fantastic Tale,” an expressionistic film that follows a black-and-white dog after she has an accident that prompts her to reflect on all the homes and owners she’s had, earned a special jury prize for its visual artistry and overall emotional impact. “Rather than emulating the language of live-action, writer-director Anca Damian uses the native potential of animation to its fullest,” Debruge said.
Debruge oversaw a jury that also included Warner Bros. executive VP of theatrical animation Allison Abbate; DreamWorks Animation’s Suzanne Buirgy; Los Angeles Time and NPR film critic Justin Chang; Matthew A. Cherry, the Oscar-winning executive producer of Spike Lee’s “Blackkklansman”; vice president of kids and family at Netflix Melissa Cobb; the Hollywood Reporter’s tech editor Carolyn Giardina; “Book of Life” director Jorge R. Gutierrez; “Kung Fu Panda 2” director Jennifer Yuh Nelson; film critic and historian Charles Solomon; Landmark Cinemas’ head film buyer Mabel Tam and IndieWire editor-at-large Anne Thompson.
The competition lineup also included opening film “Weathering With You” by Makoto Shinkai; “Bombay Rose” by Gitanjali Rao; “Children of the Sea” by Ayumu Watanabe; “No. 7 Cherry Lane” by Yonfan; “Ride Your Wave” by Masaaki Yuasa; “SHe” by Shengwei Zhou; “The Swallows of Kabul” by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec; and “White Snake” by Amp Wong and Ji Zhao.
Additionally, the fest had special screenings of “Steven Universe: The Movie,” Chinese box office sensation “Ne Zha” and Atsuya Uki’s “Cencoroll Connect.”
“We are happy to wrap our third Animation Is Film, with congratulations to the winners and all participating films and filmmakers, and to the city of Los Angeles for embracing our event. 2019 is a landmark year for animation. The diversity, global range, and creative inspiration on display at the festival is testament to the continued emergence of animation as a cinematic artform,” said Animation Is Film founder Eric Beckman.
The fest was presented by GKids in partnership with the Annecy Int’l Film Festival, Variety and Fathom Events. Industry partners, hospitality partners and supporters include Animation Magazine, Netflix, Cartoon Brew, Animation World Network, Loews Hotels, Shout! Factory, ASIFA-Hollywood, DreamWorks Animation, ELMA, Paramount Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, UniFrance, Women in Animation, Latinx in Animation and Boom! Studios.