Last fall at Cartoon Forum, Europe’s largest co-production platform for animated tv projects, one of the most visually compelling presentations belonged to Vanille, a 26-minute animated special developed by Guillaume Lorin.
Lorin recently posted the teaser online to build more support for the project:
Lorin, a native of the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, draws freely on his local culture, including the incorporation of a shape-shifting Caribbean folklore character called a soucouyant, to tell the story of kinky-haired Vanille:
Vanille, a 9-year-old mixed race Parisienne straightens her hair as usual every morning. But how could she know that in a few days’ time she’ll be in the heart of the lush tropical rainforest in Guadeloupe accompanied by a boy who was half-child, half-shrub, searching for the rarest of all flowers, the pollen of which was the only thing that could save her aunt from a dreadful curse?! Vanille doesn’t even realize that the key to her success resides in the very nature of her own hair…
“For me, the main message is to accept who you are and where you come from,” Lorin recently explained to Animation Week. “Love yourself the way you are. In the story, Vanille doesn’t like her hair. When she goes back to Guadeloupe, she meets other people who likes her hair the way it is. Her hair is just like a personal symbol. She will learn to love herself the way she is, the color of her skin, the way she acts, and it’s all about accepting who you are.”
A graduate of the French animation director’s school La Poudrière, Lorin brings strong art credentials to the project. He was an animator on the 2016 Cartoon d’Or short film winner Yùl and the Snake and also worked on the Folimage feature Aunt Hilda!
Vanille, which mixes hand-drawn animation with live-action backgrounds, would be set up for production at Folimage. Nadasdy Film in Switzerland is on board as a co-producer. The project is currently looking for a French or European broadcaster.
Besides a fresh sense of design, what stood out most to me about Vanille was the animation in the teaser. The performance of Vanille is not puppeted or limited in the way of most tv animation; she’s a living and breathing character in the tradition of all great 2D animation.
Lorin adds a unique voice to the art form and his artwork speaks for itself. I hope we get to see Vanille’s adventure sooner than later.