The 50th edition of the Directors’ Fortnight, a prestigious programming sidebar that’s organized by the French Directors’ Guild and runs parallel to the Cannes Film Festival, has announced four animation projects as part of its 2018 screening line-up.
Among the 20 feature films selected, one of them is animated: Mirai by Mamoru Hosoda, director of The Boy and the Beast, Wolf Children, Summer Wars, and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time.
Mirai will have its world premiere at Cannes, ahead of its July release in Japan. The film follows a young boy named Kun who runs away from home because he feels forgotten by his family when his little sister Mirai arrives. On his own, he discovers a magical garden that serves as a time-travelling gateway where he encounters his mother as a little girl and has a series of adventures with his baby sister all grown up.
GKIDS has already acquired Mirai, which it’ll distribute in the U.S. this fall. It’s the fourth GKIDS acquisition that has been selected for the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. Interestingly, the other three GKIDS titles that appeared in the Fortnight – Ernest & Celestine, The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, and My Life as a Zucchini — all went on to garner Academy Award nominations for best animated feature.
On the shorts side, three of the ten competition selections are animated films:
Ce magnifique gâteau! (This Magnificent Cake!) by Oh Willy! directors Emma De Swaef and Marc Roels, La Nuit des sacs plastiques (The Night of the Plastic Bags) by Yul and the Snake director Gabriel Harel, and Le Sujet (The Subject) from the NFB’s Patrick Bouchard (Bydlo).
This Magnificent Cake! is an anthology film set in colonial Africa in the late 19th-century telling the 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.
At 44 minutes long, the Belgian-funded film is essentially a feature. In fact, it was also announced today that This Magnificent Cake! will screen in the feature competition category at Animafest Zagreb in June. And should the filmmakers decide to qualify the film for Oscar consideration, they would have to do so in the feature category, since the Academy considers animated films with a running time of over 40 minutes to be feature-length.
Enough about running time though, the teaser trailer and description are fantastically intriguing, and we’ve been waiting a long time for this. It’s the first major animation project for De Swaef and Roels since their 2012 festival phenomenon Oh Willy!, which largely popularized the trend of creating stop motion with wool.
Harel’s 15-minute piece Night of the Plastic Bags also has a cryptic but promising description: “For Agatha, the countdown has begun. Soon 40 years old, she has neither kid nor guy with whom to make it. It’s urgent. And there is Marc-Antoine, her ex. Agatha has only him on hand. She will find him: he mixes techno in a bunker in the creeks. But the countdown has begun, not only for Agatha, but for the whole of mankind.” He previously won the Cartoon d’Or in 2016 for Yul and the Snake.
Finally, Bouchard’s The Subject, a 10-minute short from the National Film Board of Canada, should have some meta-appeal for animation audiences: “An animator dissects his own body, extracting memories, emotions, and fears that will nurture his work. As he cuts into his skin, various symbolic objects recalling his past emerge. Reaching the heart, he succeeds in identifying the burden he’s been dying to cast off.”
The Directors’ Fortnight runs May 9-19 in Cannes, France.