Voted on by over 3,000 members of the European Film Academy (EFA), the ceremony took place tonight in Wrocław, Poland. It’s the first time the EFA has recognized a stop motion animated film since it started presenting the animated feature honor in 2009. Zucchini contended against two other excellent films in the animation category: Pedro Rivero and Alberto Vázquez’s Psiconautas (Spain) and Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle (France/Belgium/Japan).
My Life as a Zucchini has been a breakthrough hit for Barras, a first-time feature film director. The film, which follows the experiences of a group of kids living in a foster home, 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. More recently, it was selected as Switzerland’s entry for the foreign language Academy Award.
While the chances of Zucchini being nominated for a foreign language Oscar are slim, it is absolutely deserving of recognition in the Academy’s animated feature category. The tightly-knit 66-minute film benefits from a tender and honest script by Céline Sciamma (Girlhood, Tomboy), in which kids actually sound like kids, with no hint of the cynicism that permeates kids’ voices in many Hollywood films.
The film’s modest-budget—just US$8 million—also works to its advantage: the characters have a lo-fi charm, grounded in the world of stop motion and not over-reliant on fancy digital effects, a common theme of many contemporary stop motion productions.
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 2017, when indie distributor GKIDS will roll it out. While we await the English-language trailer from GKIDS, here is a behind-the-scenes look at the stop motion production: