2015 has just started. There may be other French-language animated features this year that have not been announced yet – but this is where the country is at as of the day of this posting.
Les Moomins sur la Riviera (Moomins on the Riviera), directed by Xavier Picard and Hanna Hemilä. 80 minutes. February 4, 2015.
A co-production of Pictac Cie. in France and Handle Productions in Finland, in honor of Tove Jansson’s 100th birthday. An adaptation of the “Moomins on the Riviera” sequence in her and her brother Lars’ Moomin 1954-1975 comic strip, produced in cel animation in her signature art style. The entire Moomin family of forest trolls, and all their friends, go to the French Rivera for their vacation. Their unity is threatened as Moominpappa is drawn into the sophisticated world of Marquis Mongaga, and Snorkmaiden (Moomin’s girlfriend) is toyed with by playboy Clark Tresco. They ultimately are glad to get home to Moominvalley.
Les Moomins sur la Riviera is considered a 2015 release in French-speaking Europe, but a 2014 Finnish feature in much of the rest of the world. It was released on October 10, 2014 in Finland and on October 31, 2014 in Sweden, to celebrate Jansson’s 100th birthday (August 9, 1914), and was extremely popular there. It was shown in English on October 11 at the 2014 BFI London Film Festival, but will be a 2015 English-language release.
Yellowbird, directed by Christian De Vita and Dominique Monfery. 90 minutes. February 18, 2015.
Yellowbird is an adolescent fledgling living alone in the ruins of an old house, afraid to leave it despite the exasperation of Ladybug, his friend and foster mother. When Darius, the leader of a passing migrating bluebird flock, is mortally wounded by a cat, he passes on the migration’s route to Africa to Yellowbird, to give to the new flock leader. But Bug persuades him to lead the migration himself, despite his total lack of experience and most of the birds’ skepticism, with the help of Delf, Darius’ daughter.
Yellowbird was the first CGI theatrical production of Parisian TV animation studio TeamTO. It was pre-sold to the American distributor Wrekin Hill Entertainment, which had a high-quality English dub made that was released in America two months before its French release. (It was released in Russia earlier than either.)
Mune, le Gardien de la Lune (Mune, Guardian of the Moon), directed by Alexandre Heboyan and Benoit Philippon. 90 minutes. April 22, 2015.
An original fairy tale by Philippon, taking place in a universe where the Sun and Moon have guardians on Earth. At a ceremony to appoint their new guardians, dynamic Sohone the warrior becomes the Sun’s guardian as expected, but Mune, a small uninhibited forest faun, is unexpectedly selected as the new guardian of the Moon. When the Sun is captured by the guardian of darkness who wants to plunge the world into eternal night, it’s Mune who leads the rescue expedition of himself, Sohone, and Cire (Glim), a young girl made of wax.
Mune was made at Montreal, Quebec’s Mikros Image, the animation production studio of the Mikros Image cinema company with several studios across France and Belgium. Although the feature is not being released in French-speaking territories until April 22, it was finished last November and was released in Italy this February 6. Philippon has described Mune, the forest faun, as a mix of Marvel’s Amazing Spider-Man and Disney’s Bambi.
Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), directed by Mark Osborne. ?? minutes. October 7, 2015.
A theatrical feature adaptation of the 1943 fantasy classic children’s novella by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, which has already been filmed around the world as live-action features and animated serializations. (Also dramatized as audio recordings, radio serials, an opera, a ballet, etc.) The movie is presented as an old man (the Aviator) telling the story of his crashing his plane in a desert and meeting the Little Prince, to a Little Girl raised to be a “scientific” child prodigy, bringing fantasy into her life. In production as a combination of computer graphics (the modern story) and stop-motion animation (Saint-Exupéry’s story as a flashback), by Mikros Image in Montreal, Quebec.
The César Awards are the national film awards of France, begun in 1976 with live-action categories. The César Award for Best Animated Film has only been added since 2011. The award is not for only French-language films, but so far the winners have all been French or Belgian. The Best Animated Film winners have been:
2011 (36th Césars), for 2010 films – L’Illusionniste; Sylvain Chomet
2012 (37th Césars), for 2011 films – Le Chat du Rabbin; Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux
2013 (38th Césars), for 2012 films – Ernest et Célestine; Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner
2014 (39th Césars), for 2013 films – Loulou, l’Incroyable Secret; Éric Omond
2015 (40th Césars), for 2014 films — Miniscule, Hélène Giraud and Thomas Szabo
Next week: This isn’t over quite yet.