Cannes Film Fest 2016: My Life as a Zucchini–Claude Barras Charming Stop-Motion Animation

Relying on stop motion animation, My Life as  a Zucchini, Claude Barras charming children tale, was the opener of the Directors Fortnight series at the 2016 Cannes Film Fest.

Representing Switzerland at this year’s race for Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, My Life as a Zucchini is now placed on a short list of nine films, from which five will be nominated in this category on January 24, 2017.

The highly acclaimed feature is based on a book about a 10 year old boy, named Ikar (in French  Zucchini) who lost his beloved mother in an accident.

He wants to be called Courgette since this is the name his mother used for him.  The story follows him from the time he was orphan an how he builds a new life with new friends.

The director emphasizes the emotional significance: “I want my films to convey feelings.”  While it took a long time to make the film, he made a point to never lost the focus–“the thread” of the core tale.  To accomplish that ambitious goal, “at each step, I instructed the crew of the emotion we were trying to create with each particular sequence.”

Barras began in drawing short films, but he says: “Once I discovered stop-motion, I decided I wasn’t going to do anything else.”

Barras underplays the hard work involved in stop-motion animation, claiming that in drawing or CGI, it’s just as much work, except the budgets are usually bigger.  He takes pride in bringing in his film for about $8 million.

Along with meticulous preparation in advance, the director stresses the collaboration value: “I’ve worked with the same team for 10 years and it’s a great pleasure.”

My Life as a Zucchini won best animated film at the 2016 European Film Awards, held in Poland in early December.

The film beat competition from Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle and Psiconautas, the forgotten children.

My Life as a Zucchini is also one of the animated features shortlisted for the best animated feature Oscar category.

Gkids has U.S. distribution rights.

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