Where to start: When the Day Breaks (1999). Ruby the pig’s routine jaunt to the grocery store takes an unexpected and tragic detour after a chicken she accidentally bumps into dies in a car accident moments later. The film is a touching, funny, and intimate work about getting back into gear after witnessing firsthand how fragile life truly is. The duo’s debut, it won over 40 awards, including a Cannes Short Film Palme D’or, the Grand Prix at Annecy, and was eventually nominated for the Best Short Film Oscar. When Cartoon Brew asked I Lost My Body director Jérémy Clapin to put together a piece for our The Animation that Changed Me series, he selected When The Day Breaks.
What to watch next: Wild Life (2011). A young remittance man (someone who is essentially paid to emigrate) is sent from England to the harsh Canadian Prairies where he attempts to become a rancher. Like When the Day Breaks, and even the duo’s most recent The Flying Sailor, Wild Life depicts a naïve character thrust into a harsh new reality that forever alters his life.
Other key works: Strings (directed by Wendy Tilby, 1991) along with a couple of nifty commercial pieces for Colorado Lottery and United Airlines.
Influences: “Caroline Leaf, for her nuanced-short-story style; Yuri Norstein, because there’s no one like him before or since; and Igor Kovalyov for his amazing sense of timing and surrealism.”
Says: “All of our films are concerned with details—small resonant moments that add up to something ineffable. Whether it be the pleasure of a piece of buttered toast, the futility of a bullet shot into nothingness, a puff on a cigarette, the thump of a heart, the thought of a bug, or a glimpse of a comet, these are the ingredients; the stuff of life that is at once profound, fleeting, and utterly insignificant.”
Currently working on: The duo just finished the short, The Flying Sailor. The film is inspired by the apparently true story of a man who survived being blown a mile into the sky during the Halifax Explosion of 1917.