Today is International Animation Day, and what better time to dive into an area of French and francophone cinema that has consistently brought us beautiful and artistically animated movies for children and adults alike? We’ve selected some of our favourite titles available to stream now on MUBI. From hand drawn animation to stop motion, this selection showcases some of the best and most artfully realised independent films of the last decade.
Jean-Loup Felicioli, Alain Gagnol (2015)
From the duo who brought us the excellent Une Vie de Chat comes a second feature movie, this time set in New York. The story of Leo, a young boy hospitalised for cancer treatment, and an out of action policeman who team up to fight crime. With the help of Leo’s newly discovered powers, which allow him to leave his physical body behind and roam the city as a phantom, and Marie, an investigative journalist, they will try to track down a man known as “the Face”, who is trying to take control of New York City and crown himself king. A captivating mix of thriller and fantasy genres, with a charming and stylised hand animation, this film is an adventure for all the family to enjoy!
Rémi Chayé (2015)
Russia, 1882- Sacha’s grandfather, famous Arctic explorer, has been missing ever since he went on a quest to find the North Pole. But Sacha is convinced that the search parties sent out by the Tsar were looking for him in the wrong place, and this headstrong girl will make her own way to the North in order to find him and restore her family’s honour. Brought to us by Rémi Chayé, who previously worked on The Secret of Kells, this film is beautiful hand-drawn, with stark pared back colour palettes and shapes that are all the more striking once Sacha reaches the great white expanses of the Arctic circle.
Claude Barras (2016)
Sent to a children’s home following the death of his mother, young Courgette will meet a new group of children, all with their own pasts and difficulties, whom he will slowly befriend. Together, they will try to combat their loneliness and find their place in the world. The film’s colourful and humorous visual style counterbalance the more serious themes of the film, which it nonetheless tackles with great sensitivity and care. A hopeful and gentle movie about found families and friendships.
Sylvain Chomet (2010)
From the director of Les Triplettes de Belville comes another masterful film, this time based on an unproduced script by legendary French actor and director Jacques Tati. An ageing illusionist, very much based on Tati himself, visits an isolated rural village in Scotland, where he meets a young girl who is convinced that he is truly magical. Sylvain Chomet has a real knack for conveying the feel of a period and time, with the streets of 1950s Edinburgh and rural Scotland brought to life. Equally striking is the love and affection between the Illusionist and the little girl, entirely conveyed through animation, as like Triplettes, this film is mostly without dialogue. A perfect homage to Tati and a moving exploration of old age and paternal sentiment.