Bibo Bergeron, director of Shark Tale, The Road to El Dorado, and A Monster in Paris, is set to direct a new feature that is quite different from his previous efforts: an animated biopic of German-Jewish artist Charlotte Salomon, currently titled Charlotte.

Salomon, who was killed by the Nazis at the age of 26 at the Auschwitz concentration camp, didn’t achieve art world fame during her lifetime, but is remembered today for a series of 769 paintings she produced in the early-1940s while in hiding from the Nazis. The autobiographical paintings, collectively entitled “Life? Or Theater?: A Song-play,” will form the basis of Bergeron’s 2D feature.

“Staying true to Charlotte’s spirit and body of work, our film will be punctuated with fantasy, dream-like elements and the animation designs will be minimalist, in a similar vein as [Remi Chayé’s] Long Way North,” Bergeron told Variety, which first reported the news. “We’ll be animating and interpreting her paintings, placing the emphasis on the story which is extraordinarily moving.” Bergeron believes that the film’s key theme—how art can save our lives and help us stay sane—will especially resonate with contemporary audiences.

Bergeron is attending Annecy this week to pitch the project and look for investors. Toronto-based January Films will produce (its first animated project), and Erik Rutherford and Miriam Toews will write the screenplay. Telefilm Canada has put up the initial funding for developing the project, which is expected to have a budget of around $11 million.

The story of Salomon’s life has been well-trod by European artists. A Dutch film about Salomon was made by Frans Weisz in 1981 called Charlotte, and Marc-André Dalbavie debuted the opera Charlotte Salomon in 2014 at the Salzburg Festival. Her paintings inspired Charlotte Salomon: Der Tod und die Malerin (Death and the Painter), a ballet-opera by Michelle DiBucci that debuted in 2015. A French novel, Charlotte, written by David Foenkinos, was also published last year.

Self-portrait by Charlotte Salomon.
Self-portrait by Charlotte Salomon.

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