4 items from 2016
Festival to open with Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle [pictured]; Guillermo del Toro and Aardman to give masterclasses.
Annecy International Animation Film Festival, running June 13-18 this year, has unveiled its line-up.
New Zealand director Leanne Pooley’s documentary 25 April, about the Battle of Gallipoli; Canadian film-makers Jean-François Pouliot and François Brisson’s 3D hit Snowtime! (La Guerre des Tuques 3D); Claude Barras’s Cannes-screener My Life As A Courgette, and Sundance discovery Nuts! are among the titles in the feature-length competition.
The festival will open with Michaël Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle, which will premiere first in Official Selection at Cannes.
Other highlights include a preview screening of Chris Renaud and Yarrow Cheney’s The Secret Life Of Pets, in the presence of the directors. Andrew Stanton will also attend the festival, accompanying Finding Dory.
Ann Marie Fleming’s “Window Horses,” Penny Lane’s “Nuts!” and Sang-ho Yeon’s “Seoul Station” will screen at 2016’s nine-feature competition of the Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, commonly regarded as the most important animation event in the world.
In potential highlights, Guillermo del Toro will deliver a masterclass, unveiling unseen footage of “Trollhunters”; Aardman Animation founders Peter Lord and David Sproxton receive the 2016 Mifa & Variety Animation Personality of the Year Award. The Festival will also for the first time devote a major focus to France’s animation scene.
An Annecy regular, Sang-ho Yeon, a Fantasporto and Sitges winner with “Saibi” and “Dwae-ji-ui wang,” competes with “Seoul Station,” a Studio Dadashow and Finecut South Korea production. Horror and social realism blend in the tale of a homeless who first shows strange symptoms then unleashes chaos and a zombie outbreak. Finecut handles world sales.
Also targeting adult auds and produced by U. »
- Emilio Mayorga
Wishing to entice audiences of all ages and backgrounds, the majority of animated features produced by American studios deal with larger than life adventures where stakes are high and reality give in to fantasy. Characters are almost always charged with a dangerous mission that often involves saving the planet from destruction or rescuing a loved one from the forces of evil. But what is often ignored is the entertainment value in stories that are relatable and closer to reality, while still being exciting and prime material for animation.
Jean-François Pouliot and François Brisson's Canadian animated feature "Snowtime!,” which premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival effectively delivers a story about children engaging in fun activities that are captivating in their own right, such as a fun snow fight with a group of friends, and simultaneously touches on emotionally complex subject that can evolve into conversation topics between parents and children. Based on a classic live-action Canadian film, scored with songs by some of the country’s biggest musical stars, and dealing with a young boy overcoming grief through playtime, “Snowtime1” is an endearing and humanistic alternative to the ceaselessly voracious tent-poles.
Producer Marie-Claude Beauchamp and co-director Francois Brisson talk about making an Canadian animated feature based on a local classic and how this new iteration is turning the characters into a global sensation.
Carlos Aguilar: Something that's fascinating about the film is that is a story that allows children to be children and doesn't place them in situations beyond their age. It's still an exciting adventure but it doesn't involved high stakes missions or otherworldly powers. Was that something that you were interested in showcasing in the film?
Marie-Claude Beauchamp: The film is a remake of a film that was produced 30 years ago. It was originally a live action film. The genuine value, and probably the overall feeling of those kids being real kids, resonates because they were once real kids. But when we adapted it for animation we kept some of that charming reality of children. It was important to us that the children were living things from their point of view, that it was real to them. So when kids look at this film, and this why the film had a huge impact then and I believe still today, they can see themselves in these characters. There are not just cartoons representing things that are out of their reach but are cartoons representing things that are so close to them in terms of subjects, feelings, and emotions.
CA: François, what inspired you to get involved in the film? Did you also have a personal connection to the original version or did you see it as a challenge on a professional level?
Francois Brisson: This is a very classic film made here in Canada in 1985. It’s a huge classic for us here in Quebec, so to be approached to be a co-director in the film was for me a great opportunity and a great challenge at the same time. We needed to tell the story, keep it universal, and also keep all of its charm, the great storylines, and the tragedy that happens in the film. This was a great chance for me to work on doing that. We worked so hard to respect this classic tale and bring it to the 21st century.
McB: Yes, that was an interesting challenge, to find ways to tell the story that children of today would understand. Obviously we’ve changed as a society, here and everywhere around the planet, in the last 30 years, so we had to adapt the film to today’s point of view. It was not a direct transmission of the original, it was instead a real adaptation
Fb: What was also great about is that, for example, when we went to Sundance the reception that we got at the screening was the same as the one we got here in Quebec. We were able to reach the same emotions in different audiences.
McB: Even people who knew nothing about the original film. That was quite a surprise to realize that what we knew could resonate here, also resonated with American audiences.
CA: Stylistically, the character design is unique in comparison to most CG animated features in the the U.S. Where this is specific aesthetic come from and what was the reasoning behind it?
Fb: It came from the art director Philippe Arsenault Bussieres, he’s been illustrating children’s books for a long time and he has a very strong style, which kind of resembles stop-motion puppets in some ways. We tried to keep that in mind and we also focused on the texture of the characters. They feel very organic, you can see the texture sketchiness of the etchings in the characters like in the wool that you see on the characters hats and clothing. Also, what I often see in other animated films from major studios is that they animated the same way, so we tried to stay way from that. We tried to go back to the roots of the old classics like Bugs Bunny in some ways and also stop-motion. The kids in the film are all wearing these big heavy suits, so they can’t move the same way as if they were running with shorts and t-shirts , so all that needed to be understood by all the animators.
McB: Graphically the challenge that we had was to make the cold feel warm because the story takes place mostly outside and we didn’t want people not to relate to that situation, so the way that the art director approached the drawings gave it a warm feeling. We didn’t want it to look real, because I find it that sometimes real 3D looks a bit creepy [Laughs], so we wanted to stay closer to cartoons or closer to 2D. Yet again, it is in 3D and the volumes of the characters are real, but we had the softness and tenderness that can come out of 2D thanks to the design.
CA: War and death as themes are treated in a delicate manner while not shying away from their significance. Were you concerned at all about including these elements in a film aimed at a young audience or did you feel children would be receptive to them?
McB: I would not treat this lightly that’s for sure. We were very concerned about how we would approach that. In the original live action film the dog dies and the reference to Luke’s life is regarding his grandfather who died in the war. Because nowadays grandfather’s in a war, timing-wise, might not be a reference that children can relate to much, we thought that reference could be more relatable if it was his father. We brought it closer to the drama part. We also brought it closer because we wanted for Luke’s character to find himself and to make peace with his own sorrow. We also wanted him to overcome the death of his father once and for all now that he has lived it in his own way. The subject is there and we strongly believe that children need and want to experiment fear as success of all the fantastic films has shown. They need to deal with fear and sorrow. I was raised on “Dumbo” and “Bambi,” and when my own pet died I knew more about how to deal with it because I experienced in my own way and I had shared it with my parents. We are believers that films can serve for children to experiment emotions just the way that we go into films and experiment emotions. Emotion is good.
McB: We have a lot of good talent in Canada that are known around the world. This film is a prestigious film for the Canadian industry because we don’t produced very large independent budgets, so when singers and great artist saw the opportunity for them to support the film they joined into the proposal. They felt a relationship to the story, particularly this one being one that they also cherished when they were kids. Celine Dion saw the film when she was young and Simple Plan saw the film when their were young as well. Celine relates also to this film through her children because she’s shown it to all of her family. There is a sense of belonging and a sense of support, we are so proud and very happy of these collaborations.
CA: What would you say is the state of independent animation in Canada today?
McB: It’s an industry that is growing. There is a lot of talent. Independent films are more and more coming together but there are still only a handful of films that have been made in recent years. It’s definitely growing.
Fb: Jean-Francois was the director and he was more in charge of working with the voice actors, but because it’s a big production we needed many eyes to see everything. He was more in charge of that, and I was in charge of doing the storyboards, checking the design, the layouts, the animation, and so forth. When he was away I was busy doing certain things and vice versa.
McB: It was an amazing amalgam. They really worked hand in hand instead of it being a fiasco, because having two people trying to make the same film can be complicated. But we are very proud of how they managed to work together in such symbiosis
CA: François, you've worked on both 2D and 3D, which one do you prefer or what is the difference between the two as you create your storyboards and then transfer them into animation?
Fb: I’ve been working in 3D animation for a few years now, but my training as a 2D animator is very useful because I can draw anything. Sometimes I feel I'm more capable of storyboard better that way. I’m using a pencil and not a software. Sometimes when you have the software you go too much into detail. You got too much into the technical side of it so you get away from first impressions. When you do a storyboard you need to go very quickly about it to get the feel of the scene or the shot. For me, it’s perfect to do it on pencil or drawing on a tablet. When we transfer that into layouts and the camera aspects,Jean-François makes it a breeze because he knows so much about camera movement. It worked perfectly well. We had not issues.
McB: You will probably notice that the lighting is also very particular. Jean-Francois convinced the team about using a backlight, which is rarely used in animation. It also adds to the feel of closeness to the characters because of the way they are lit.
CA: Given that this is a Canadian production, was the film created in French first and then an English dub was created or what approach did you take?
McB: We always say that we did two original versions of the film, but basically the lip-synch is based on the English version. It’s being release in the United States as an original English version. There was no dubbing for the English-version. The actors you are hearing are the same actors that helped inspire the animators throughout the whole process.
CA: Were the voice actors involved in the film connected personally to the original film prior to partaking in this animated version or did they first have to get acquainted with the material at hand?
McB: We had two stars, Ross Lynch and Sandra Oh. Ross has had a relationship with the original film all of his life, so he had a personal link to it. Sandra Oh, who is Canadian and was raised in Toronto, also had an endearing reference to “Snowtime!” The other actors were all based in Montreal, so they new of the original film and they obviously embraced it. They were all adult actors, we didn't use any children actors.
CA: As "Snowtime!" melts hearts around the world, what is CarpeDiem, planning as a follow up? What are are some of upcoming projects?
McB: Right now we are financing a sequel to “Snowtime!” and we are hoping to start production in the summer. We are also in production of a TV series that follows the first-graders in “Snowtime!,” we call them our Minions [Laughs]. We developed an app, there are records, merchandise in some territories, and three books in publishing, so we definitely developed it as a franchise and will continue doing so. We have also just opened a “Snowtime!” museum exhibition here in Montreal, and it’s a traveling exhibition. We are working with our distributor Shout! to bring it to the United States
- Carlos Aguilar
Read More: The 9 Indies You Must See This February: 'The Witch,' 'Triple 9' and More From producer Salman Khan and director Jean-François Pouliot comes "Dr. Cabbie," a bright and colorful new comedy about a doctor from India who redirects his life to become a cab driver in Canada. The film is being distributed by Momentum Pictures on VOD this month, and Indiewire has an exclusive first look at the movie's opening sequence. The sequence above teases what's in store for the film's main character, Deepak Chopra (Vinay Virmani), who passes his medical exams and graduates at the top of his class, fulfilling his dream to follow in his father's footsteps. After heading home to show his mother his degree, Deepak convinces her that they should move to Canada so he can pursue his medical career properly, and thus begins the film's fish-out-of-water adventure. "Dr. Cabbie" co-stars Kunal Nayyar »
- Jake Spencer
4 items from 2016
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