Telling war differently, a strong trend at the Annecy Animation Festival

A global event, the event celebrates creativity and the diversity of styles and techniques. This year, whether global, civil or between cubs and unicorns, war is omnipresent in the list of films in the running for the Golden Crystal.

Through the eyes of a painter murdered in Auschwitz, Angolan women or even in a fantasy world of teddy bears and unicorns, animated cinema allows directors to tell the war in a different way, omnipresent this year at the Annecy Festival. .

Far from the big productions signed Disney or Netflix, or children’s animation, several films in the running for the Golden Crystal on Saturday June 18 have a dark tone, immersing themselves in the causes of conflicts or their consequences, through the testimonies of victims.

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With its apocalyptic battles between unicorns and cubs in a magical forest, Unicorn Wars (released November 30, 2022), a satire of militarism, indoctrination and toxic masculinity, is probably the most singular. “Animation has its own language. It’s a very free medium, between cinema and comics. and which can embrace all sorts of subjects, as here “the universal causes of conflict”, explains its director Alberto Vasquez.

In an atmosphere of the end of the world, this Orwellian film tells the story of two bear cubs, twin brothers, embarked on a war against the unicorns, guardians of the forest. “Cubs live in a military society,” alliance of the saber and the sprinkler, with a priest justifying the holy war against the unicorns, in the name of a doctrine: he who will drink the blood of the last unicorn will be sanctified.

Alberto Vasquez, who likes to profane the cutest icons of pop culture, with forceful impalement of teddy bears, explains that he takes advantage of the total freedom that animation offers to mix Apocalypse Now and the Bible. “The idea is a bit punk, he euphemizes. It’s provocative and not complacent.”.

realistic vein

Other filmmakers follow a more realistic vein, a year after the Cristal d’Or at Flee , the true story of the flight to Europe of a young homosexual Afghan refugee. The animation made it possible to put a human face on the question, while preserving the anonymity of the person who inspired it.

This year, Angola and its civil war are at the heart of Nayola, a film by José Miguel Ribeiro. He depicts three generations of women traumatized by the war: a grandmother, a mother and her daughter. Whether they have seen their lives shattered by the conflict, their husbands disappear in the fighting or whether they are trying to overcome these stigmas by launching into rap, these three women find themselves in this dreamlike film, which wants to immerse us in their inner universe.

Adapted from an Angolan play by a director from Portugal, the former colonial power, this film, produced in 2D with different animation techniques, aims to emphasize the place of women in conflicts.

A challenge shared Charlotte, devoted to the Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon, murdered in Auschwitz at the age of 26. The writer David Foenkinos had already retraced his fate in a novel of the same title, in 2014.

In a classic construction, mixing sobriety and impressionism, the film traces the last years of the tragic life of this German painter, who finds refuge on the Côte d’Azur before being overtaken by the Nazis. Until her deportation, she never stopped painting her life’s work. “Leben? oder Theater?»a series of over 700 gouaches and watercolors that miraculously escaped destruction.

“After Schindler’s List», Spielberg’s masterpiece on the Holocaust,it is difficult to remake a film on the same subject”, admits one of the co-directors, Éric Warin.

With its close-ups on the faces, but also fades and dives into the artist’s paintings, which come to life on the screen, the film intends “place the spectator on his shoulder, in the process of painting”. Before adding: “Animation allows things that cannot be expressed with cinema. traditional.”

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Telling war differently, a strong trend at the Annecy Animation Festival