The César Awards, France’s equivalent of the Oscars, have unveiled the nominations for their 46th edition.
This year’s ceremony, which is scheduled to be held in Paris on March 12, will be the first since an overhaul of the César Academy and the organization that oversees it, the Association for the Promotion of Cinema. For the first time, the academy has a dedicated animation branch.
Here are the animated feature nominees:
- Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary — dir. Rémi Chayé
- Josep — dir. Aurel
- Little Vampire — dir. Joann Sfar
American audiences haven’t had much of a chance to see the nominees, none of which has picked up U.S. distribution. But the films have made their marks on the festival circuit. All three played in competition at Annecy, where Calamity, an origin story about Calamity Jane, won the top feature prize. Josep, another historical biopic, was selected at Cannes and won best animated feature at the European Film Awards. Little Vampire is a family comedy from Sfar, a graphic novelist and filmmaker who co-directed the 2012 César winner The Rabbi’s Cat.
Of the three nominees, only Calamity has qualified for this year’s Oscars. In a marked difference from the awards race in the U.S., all three nominees are principally works of 2d animation.
And here are the animated short nominees:
- Bach-Hông — dir. Elsa Duhamel
- And Then the Bear — dir. Agnès Patron
- Shooom’s Odyssey — dir. Julien Bisaro
- Nettle Head — dir. Paul Cabon
The most high-profile nominee is Shooom’s Odyssey, a half-hour special produced for Canal+; the kids’ film, which follows a young owlet as it searches for its mother, has been honored at Annecy, Ottawa, Clermont-Ferrand, and elsewhere. Bisaro was previously nominated in this category in 2015, for the considerably darker Bang Bang! Cabon, director of the somber adolescent drama Nettle Head, is another returning nominee: he was last competing for this award in 2018, with The Bald Future.
Duhamel and Patron are the only women directors represented in the animation categories this year. Bach-Hông is a documentary set around communism’s rise to power in Vietnam, while And Then the Bear, which played in competition at Cannes, tells an enigmatic tale of a boy’s nighttime encounter with animals.
Again, all these films are 2d-animated. None were shortlisted for this year’s Oscar. The only fully-French film that is still in the running for the Oscar, Adrien Mérigeau’s Genius Loci, was snubbed by the César Academy.