Sylvain Chomet, the celebrated director of Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, is starting production on his third animated feature, The Thousand Miles. Chomet and his team will start designing characters and storyboarding this month, according to a report in Variety.

The film is slated for release next year, an unusually fast turnaround that suggests the film won’t be predominantly hand-drawn like Chomet’s earlier works. The film’s producer, Demian Gregory, confirmed that the project will use a mixed-media approach and that Chomet had experimented with “number of animation techniques that have rarely been combined.”

Gregory told Variety, “We experimented extensively to combine the expressiveness of Sylvain’s 2D style with the stability of CG and the dimensionality of real actors. The final result is a spectacular hybrid that captures the uniqueness of 2D hand-drawn animation and the expansive nature of 3D technology.”

The Thousand Miles will be not just different for its stylistic approach, but will mark the first time that Chomet has used dialogue extensively in an animated feature. The film, based on a treatment by Gregory and script by Chomet, will offer an as-yet-unannounced international celebrity voice cast including two “iconic American actors with Italian roots” in the leads. Inspired by the dream journals (and other unpublished materials) of iconic Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, Chomet’s film is described as the “metaphysical journey” of a pair of aging brothers.

Concept art from "The Thousand Miles."
Concept art from “The Thousand Miles.”

Here is the official synopsis:

Two brothers, separated by life’s events but reunited by an old dream – of taking part of the world famous car race, The Thousand Miles. Adelmo is the talented and successful older brother. He used to be an acclaimed movie director – chatty, flamboyant, and gregarious. He will remind many of Federico Fellini. Umberto, known fondly as ‘Beppino’ as a child, is the quiet one. He’s a dreamer and stargazer. According to modern standards, his life has been less successful – especially the last two decades, which he has spent in jail. As the duo heads towards the start line in Brescia in their old Amilcar, the audience re-lives some major episodes of their past through a series of flashback which visit key moments in their mutual journey, from their happy childhood, when life was sumptuous – full of laughter and colors, to the wretched battlefields of World War II and through to the ‘dolce vita’ of Rome in the nineteen sixties.

The film’s graphic styles will range from 1920s black-and-white cartoon throwback to Seventies psychedelic pop art. Animation production will take place in southern France and Italy, while post production will take place in Canada. London-based Savoy & Gregory, which is co-owned by Prince Emanuele Filiberto Umberto Reza Ciro René Maria di Savoia, grandson of the last king of Italy, will produce the film.

Chomet’s last film in 2013, Attila Marcel, marked his live-action feature debut.

Concept art from "The Thousand Miles."
Concept art from “The Thousand Miles.”

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