The Swiss-French stop motion feature My Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de courgette) is one of nine films that has been shortlisted for the foreign-language film category of the Academy Awards. The Switzerland entry was selected from a record 85 submissions.
Only one animated feature has previously been nominated in the category—Israel’s Waltz with Bashir. That film did not receive a nomination in the animated feature category, but Claude Barras’ Zucchini could potentially earn a dual nomination in both the foreign language and animated feature categories.
Last weekend, Zucchini won the European Film Awards prize for best animated feature. The film has been a breakthrough hit for Barras, a first-time feature film director. Following the experiences of a group of kids living in a foster home, it has screened in the Director’s Fortnight section of the Cannes Film Festival, and won both the Feature Film Cristal and Audience Prize at Annecy earlier this year.
Made for just $8 million, Zucchini was produced by Rita Productions in co-production with Blue Spirit Productions, Gebeka Films, and KNM. The film opened this fall in France and Switzerland, but its U.S. release won’t happen until next year, when indie distributor GKIDS will roll it out.
The nine shortlisted foreign-language films will be screened by select Academy committees in Los Angeles, New York, and London between January 13-15, who will view three films per day. Zucchini’s short running time—66 minutes—could work to its advantage during these grueling screening days. The script by Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Tomboy) communicates plenty of emotion and never overstays its welcome.
The five nominees will be announced with the rest of the Oscar nominations on January 24, 2017.
Here is a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Zucchini: