Since France is the birthplace of cinema, it’s no surprise that the French were also animation pioneers. Years before the Lumière brothers thrilled and terrified audiences with their moving images of trains and horses, Émile Reynaud was conjuring images straight out of dreams with his Théâtre Optique, an early form of animation which had images drawn on translucent material being projected onto a screen. To celebrate this tradition, FIAF NY will be hosting Animation First (Feb. 2-4), a new festival which will highlight the incredible work of French animators throughout history. With special events, 3D screenings, and even cartoons for adults, the festival has something for everyone, here are five events you simply can’t miss.
Erotic Animated Shorts
From the tale of Shéhérazade to raunchy vignettes about the goings on at a roadside motel, this compilation of shorts is meant to entice the senses of adults who’ve had enough of family fare. Besides putting on display a variety of animation techniques (stop motion, watercolor and CGI among others) the shorts also celebrate bodies that come in all shapes and forms. In the hilarious Tram, a full figured female tram conductor becomes aroused by her unsuspecting passengers, while in Daphné ou la belle plante, our senses become complicit in the act of natural creation. Best in show might be the stunning Braise which uses charcoal illustrations to paint a sensual portrait of longing.
Loulou and Other Wolves
Wolves have had a bad reputation for as long as there have been fairy tales and fables. It’s time for them to get the last word, and they, or at least one of them, do in Serge Elissalde’s lovely film about the sensitive Loulou, a young wolf adopted by rabbits. A perfect example of the nature vs. nurture debate, the film speaks to children and adults who are still trying to find their place in the world. The feature will be accompanied by short films that profile other famous wolves, and will be followed by a Q&A with Elissalde.
Come binge the first six eps of French animated series Lastman at FIAF’s Le Skyroom, the show, which was partly crowdfunded, focuses on the title character made famous in the comic books by Bastien Vivès, Balak, and Michaël Sanlaville. Lastman takes place ten years before the events in the comic book and focuses on how the young Richard Aldana became an expert fighter. Combining elements from various genres, the show was one of the first animated series for adults created in France, and if you like what you see, there are 20 more episodes waiting for you after the FIAF event.
When a young scientist disappears without a trace, it’s up to police captain Barthélémy Karas to find out what happened. What appears to be a simple case reveals itself to be part of a conspiracy involving genetic experiments, and the Parisian underground crime. Themes of existentialism and elements of film noir coexist in a world conceived by director Christian Volckman. The English version which premiered in 2007 featured the voices of Daniel Craig and Jonathan Pryce, among others, but the version presented at Animation First will be the original French release.
The Red Turtle
When we spoke to director Michael Dudok de Wit last year he said that he believes hand drawn animation was going nowhere, it was a medium that was here to stay. And what better proof of that than his Academy Award nominated masterpiece? A dialogue-less tale of compassion, love and fate set in a remote island where a lonely, shipwrecked man discovers the true meaning of life thanks to a giant red turtle. Co-produced by Studio Ghibli, the film became a festival darling after its debut at Cannes, and with reason, it’s one of the most inventive, haunting films to come out in any medium this decade. Dudok de Wit will introduce the film on 02/03 and following the screening he will do an hour long talk where he will discuss his career and The Red Turtle.
For more information on Animation First click here.