Caroline Cherrier’s short “Horacio” has earned nominations at Clermont-Ferrand, Palm Springs and Annecy over the past year. Now, “Horacio” rounds out its festival run at the Unifrance Rendez-Vous’ upcoming 12th MyFrenchFilmFestival. It is Cherrier’s first pro work after several shorts made as a student at leading European animation school Gobelins.

“Horacio” delivers a portrait of a young, naïve and accidental killer whose name – Guillaume – doesn’t even appear in the film. Told in first person, the real story interestingly swings between what the viewer hears and sees – which do not always match.

Cherrier is already developing her first feature project and is currently involved in the direction of several episodes of a sci-fi series, produced by U.S.-based Titmouse (“Big Mouth,” “The Legend of Vox Machina”) for HBO.

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“Horacio” Credit: Ikki Films

“Horacio” is your first short. What were your intensions as a director while making this film?

My main purpose was pretty simple. You see these very absurd news stories in local papers like: “He killed his neighbor because he was screaming too loud.” I was thinking about that, and I decided to make a film not about how they get to that point, but about what happened in the aftermath. That is, once this absurd and dramatic point has been exploited, I was interested in the trial, the people trying to find explanations, victims and survivors of absurdity. And in the film, while I am showing scenes of this weird aftershock, some clues about how these people got there are suggested.

I think one of the main virtues of the short is a singular emotional tone between the black comedy and the quiet tragedy around the main character. What added value do you think the animation medium adds for this peculiar, adult content?

Animation gives a kind of “fairytale dimension” to the story, it takes it further from reality. The film was not supposed to be a social chronicle, with a documentary approach, but rather an experience of the murderer’s vision. This vision is a naïve simplification of reality, and it helps to focus less on the graphic aspect (dead body, blood), and more on the situation. Animation helps to confer a childish glance to this story.

How would you describe the visual approach and genre of “Horacio”?

The film is a tragicomic drama. Visually, the references are the eighties animated shows I watched when I was a child with thick lines around flat colors for the characters, painting for the backgrounds. I like this old school visual style, without too many post production computer effects, where you could appreciate how the film was made.

“Horacio” is the title, but the main character’s name doesn’t even appear in the film…

The film turns on a murder, but nobody seems to care about the victim. In the narrator’s naïve point of view “the victim was there, and later he was not there anymore.” And that’s all. Horacio remains to be just a name, a moment. The title idea was to remember that everything is about Horacio anyway, it is his story.

You’ve chosen to tell this tale from a first person point of view. Was there ever any fear of losing something in telling this story with words rather than images?

In “Horacio,” words and images do not say the same things. The words of the narrator provide his thoughts, the images give what he is going through. This gap was what interested me in the first place – to hear how he feels, and compare it with the situation.

Finally, what’s next?

I am working on a feature project for family audiences right now. It’s a tale with a weird female sea monster, very, very old and the last of its species, who falls in love with a lighthouse. Its main character though is a nine-year-old kid in the lighthouse. It’s mostly about nature: how it can be creepy, beautiful and precious, dangerous and big, and how you can fall in love with that, and how to deal with it can be a great adventure. It’s produced by Tant Mieux Production and its working title is “The Last of the Pebbles.”

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Caroline Cherrier Credit: Caroline Cherrier