Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels’ This Magnificent Cake! (Ce magnifique Gâteau!), the mid-length feature (or if you prefer, very long animated short), has topped the prestigious Clermont-Ferrand Int’l Short Film Festival, winning the grand prix for its national competition. The winners were revealed on Saturday in France.

Clermont-Ferrand is one of those festivals in which animation and live-action compete alongside each other. The national competition screened a total of 55 shorts (35 live-action shorts, 15 animated shorts, and 5 documentaries), which were selected from a total of 2,033 entries. It’s always noteworthy when an animated film wins in a setting where animation is competing alongside live-action. It reaffirms that animation at its best can be just as impactful and meaningful as any live-action film. Those of us in the field already know that, of course, but it’s a wake-up call for the rest of the film community, which has only recently started to acknowledge animation as a worthy equal to live-action filmmaking.

The national jury at Clermont-Ferrand, which selected This Magnificent Cake!, was comprised of Jackie Berroyer, Hubert Charuel, Céline Devau, Vincent Macaigne, and Dominique Reymond. They cited the film as their top choice for “its visual and narrative elegance, its never-cynical humor, and for the mixture it displays of sagacity and kindness.”

Since its release last year, This Magnificent Cake! has already had notable support from the live-action community, including its most high-profile advocate, Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins, who has praised the film multiple times on social media:

This Magnificent Cake! is the first film by the Belgians De Swaef and Roels since their breakout 2012 effort Oh Willy…, a festival favorite that notched over 80 international awards and popularized a stop-motion trend of wool and felt characters.

While their new film shares similarities in technique with that earlier work, This Magnificent Cake! goes in a darker direction, highlighting the horrors of Europe’s colonial past. Set in Africa in the late 19th century, it tells the intertwined stories of five different characters: a troubled king; a middle-aged pygmy working in a luxury hotel; a failed businessman on an expedition; a lost porter; and a young army deserter.

The film was produced by Beast Animation (Belgium) in co-production with Vivement Lundi (France) and Pedri Animation (The Netherlands). It will release theatrically in Los Angeles on March 1, 2019 through GKIDS, which recently announced North American acquisition for the film.

De Swaef and Roels spoke with Cartoon Brew last June at the Annecy animation festival in France about how they researched, developed, and produced their film. Watch the interview below: