LES ILLUSIONISTES: A Celebration Of French Animation


Animation may not be the first thing one thinks of when thinking about French cinema but that may change as the renaissance in French animation that began early in the decade continues apace. Like its live-action counterpart, French animation has historically been an auteur-driven affair, from the classical whimsy of Paul Grimault to the surreal, sci-fi worlds of Rene Laloux.

More recent French animators appear no less driven by personal vision. Indeed, the latest French animated feature to come to US shores, The Illusionist, finds two distinctly French film artists collaborating across time with director Sylvain Chomet (The Triplets of Belleville) adapting an unproduced script by Jacques Tati (Playtime) to his unique, hand-drawn style.

Set for theatrical release on Christmas day by Sony Pictures Classics, Chomet’s The Illusionist kicks off this survey of French animation with a special preview screening on Friday, December 3.

The series is presented by UCLA Film & TV Archive and co-presented with the Los Angeles Film & TV Office, French Embassy at the Billy Wilder Theater and will run  from Friday, December 3 to Monday, December 13, 2010.

For more information, please visit:www.cinema.ucla.edu or contact www.cinema.ucla.edu. Film and Television Archive: (310) 206-3456. The Box Office opens one hour before showtime. Advance online ticketing is available: secure.cinema.ucla.edu

Friday December 3 2010, 7:30PM – Double feature
The Illusionist (L’Illusionniste). 2010, United Kingdom/France, 35mm, 90 min, in French, English, and Gaelic dialogue with English subtitles. Director: Sylvain Chomet. Writers: Sylvain Chomet, Jacques Tati.
Sylvain Chomet channels the visual expressiveness and effortless charm of Jacques Tati into this almost wordless paean to a world and an art form long gone by. The Illusionist of the title faces the ragged end of a stage career alone, having been pushed aside by newer attractions, until he meets a young girl, captivated by his magic, who changes his life forever.

The Triplets of Belleville . 2003, France/Belgium/Canada/United Kingdom, 35mm, 80 min. Director/Writer: Sylvain Chomet.
Combining bike racing, jazz, gangsters and the movies into a dizzying animated confection, The Triplets of Belleville is a Francophile’s dream come true. Chomet’s debut was nominated for an Oscar and helped prove that the obituaries for hand-drawn two-dimensional animation were extremely premature.

Saturday December 4 2010, 7:30PM – Double feature
Mia et le Migou. 2008, France/Italy, 35mm, 92 min. Director: Jacques-Rémy Girerd. Writers: Benoît Chieux, Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Antoine Lanciaux, Iouri Tcherenkov.
Under the spell of Hayao Miyazaki, Jacques-Rémy Girerd crafts an enthralling animated cautionary tale about the dangers of overdevelopment. When Mia has a premonition about her father, a laborer on a construction site in a formerly pristine wilderness area, she sets off to find him, discovering on her journey a natural world alive with magic creatures fighting its destruction.

Raining Cats and Dogs (La prophétie des grenouilles). 2003, France, 35mm, 90 min. Director:Jacques-Rémy Girerd. Writers: Jacques-Rémy Girerd, Antoine Lanciaux, Iouri Tcherenkov.
After the frogs of France predict an apocalyptic flood, an unconventional family turn their farmhouse into a modern-day arc and rescue the animals from the local zoo. But with only potatoes on onboard, the carnivores get restless and everyone has to learn to get along—or else. Jacques-Rémy Girerd’s debut feature remains utterly unpredictable and charming to the last.

Sunday December 5 2010, 11:00AM
Azur and Asmar (Azur et Asmar). 2008, France/Belgium/Spain/Italy, 35mm, 90 min. Writer/Director: Michel Ocelot.
Renowned French animator Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress) brings his signature silhouette-style of animation into the digital realm with his first all-CG feature. Dazzling colors and stunning visuals inspired by Middle Eastern mosaic art bring to life the fairytale of two rival princes, raised as brothers, on a fantastic quest to win the hand of the legendary Djinn fairy.

Sunday December 5 2010, 7:00PM – Double feature
Eleonores’s secret (Kerity, la maison des contes). 2009, France/Italy, DigiBeta, 75 min. Director: Dominique Monfrey. Writers: Anik Leray, Alexandre Reverend.
The power of narrative and the pleasures of reading are luminously illustrated, in this fantastical story of a magic library where fairytales come to life. Bequeathed this literary treasure trove by his aunt, seven-year-old Nathaniel must embark on an adventure with classic characters, from Alice in Wonderland to Little Red Riding Hood, and all manner of fairies, elves and pirates in between, to save the library from destruction.

Kirikou and the Wild Beats (Kirikou et les bêtes sauvages). 2005, 35mm, 75 min. Directors: Michel Ocelot and Bénédicte Galup. Writers: Bénédicte Galup, Philippe Andrieux, Marie Locatelli, Michel Ocelot.
Kirikou and the Wild Beasts takes ups the story of its titular hero soon after the conclusion of Michel Ocelot and Bénédicte Galup’s first, classic foray into West African mythology, Kirikou and the Sorceres (1998). Here, the evil witch Karaba unleashes a whole new wave of plagues that the diminutive but determined Kirikou must defeat to save his village.

Saturday December 11 2010, 7:30PM

The Turning Table (La table tournante). 1988, 35mm, 80 min. Writers/Directors: Paul Grimault and Jacques Demy
Two of French cinema’s greatest auteurs and kindred spirits in many ways, Grimault and Demy, team up for this fascinating documentary about Grimault’s life and work. Live action footage of Grimault at his animation stand is intercut with some of his most beloved short films, including La Flûte magique (1946), Le Petit Soldat (1947) and Le Diamant (1970).

Monday December 13 2010, 7:30PM – Double feature
Fantastic Planet (La planète sauvage). 1973, France/Czechoslovakia, 35mm, 71 min. Director : René Laloux. Writers: René Laloux, Roland Topor.
Director René Laloux and designer Roland Topor channel Hieronymus Bosch by way of Pink Floyd in this seminal sci-fi cult classic. By turns a chilling allegory and a surreal taxonomy centered on a clash of alien civilizations, the Draags and Oms, Fantastic Planet teems with mysteries that even repeat viewings could ever plumb.

Chronopolis. 1982, France/Poland, 35mm, 52 min. Writer/Director: Piotr Kamler
In an immense and Byzantine city, strange creatures overcome the boredom of eternity by manufacturing moments of time. Polish-born animator Piotr Kamler uses clay and stop motion animation to craft an enigmatic sci-fi vision with echoes of Borges and Calvino.

Special thanks to: Mathieu Fournet, executive director—Los Angeles Film & TV Office, French Embassy; Ziggy Kozlowski—Block-Korenbrot; Sony Pictures Classics.


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Sara Tehrani

Sara Tehrani, is a film publicist and a fan of international cinema

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