ENJOY THE SHOW
"Aren't we all already long dead?" Celluloid Dreams has debuted the first full trailer for French animated film The Swallows of Kabul, adapted from Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra's tragic tale capturing life in Kabul in 1998. The film is set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival coming up this month, and will then play at the Annecy Film Festival also in France. The emotional story follows two couples whose lives become intertwined: "one young and liberal, whose lives are at risk under the strictures of Taliban rule, the other older and more conservative." The film has been in development for over five years, animated in France and produced by Les Armateurs, co-directed by Zabou Breitman & Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec. Featuring the voices of Hiam Abbass as Mussarat, Simon Abkarian as Atiq, Zita Hanrot as Zunaira, and Swann Arlaud as Mohsen. This looks gorgeous and heartbreaking, a tough story to watch but an important one to tell anyway.
"You decide where we go. If we live or die." GKids has debuted a full-length US trailer for the acclaimed animated film from France titled Funan, the feature directional debut of filmmaker Denis Do. The story is about the survival and struggle of a young mother during the Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia, as she tries to find her 4-year-old son, torn from his own family by the communist regime. This premiered at the Annecy Film Festival last year, where it was award with the Best Feature Film top prize. Funan is described as a searing and remarkable debut from filmmaker Denis Do, who uses his own family history as inspiration for a thrilling story of love, loss and enduring hope in the most trying of times. Featuring (in French) the voices of Bérénice Bejo and Louis Garrel. This looks fantastic, and the reviews have been overly positive so far, making it one of the must see indie films of the year. I'm glad GKids will be bringing it to US theaters.
"A man walks off a boat. He walks into a restaurant and orders albatross soup. He takes one sip… pulls out a gun, and shoots himself to death. So… why did he kill himself?" That's the "thinking puzzle" question at the heart of this enthralling, fun animated short film. Albatross Soup is written and directed by Hong Kong born, Queens raised, and Brooklyn-based filmmaker Winnie Cheung, and it played at a number of major film festivals before arriving online to watch. Over 50 people were recorded trying to figure out the riddle using only "yes" or "no" questions. The mesmerizing animation is a visual representation of the riddle unraveling as we hear different questions and answers as to what's the real story. Not only is this short film entrancing to watch, it's also fascinating to try to solve the riddle with them, which is a bit tragic in the end.
This is one of the most creative animated short films we've come across this year. L'Ogre, also titled The Ogre, is a short animated film written and directed by Laurène Braibant, produced by Papy3D based in Paris, France. The short is about an "insecure giant" who loves eating, but takes things too far when he goes to a business banquet and can't stop enjoying the food. The hand-drawn technique in this is gorgeous, and allows the storytelling to shine through such imaginative designs and mesmerizing animation that expands and bleeds through the elements in each frame. The story itself is intriguing and is an obvious parable for many aspects of life, big and small. Impressive work - looking forward to seeing more of Braibant's projects.
"Gotta get behind a guy before you stab ’em in the back." Who needs some extra Green Goods? Check out this excellent stop-motion animated short film Blind Mice, written and directed by filmmaker Nicholas D'Agostino of the upstart indie studio Pox Films Inc. This is unlike any other stop-motion film you've seen before, with some very intriguing character design. The noir homage is about a newly released inmate who gets caught up in another bad con. Featuring the voices of Preston Butler III, Matt Kelly, Peter Mark, and Claudia Wit. This is fantastic, an impressive example of clever storytelling and interesting animation.
"Once you've cheated fate, what's next?" What?! Now this is cool. The Critics' Week sidebar at the Cannes Film Festival announced their line-up today, and included in the selection is a French animated film titled J'ai perdu mon corps. The title translates to I Lost My Body, though IMDb uses an English title listed as simply Grab, which also works for this film. Because it's about a sentient severed hand! Yeah, a bit like Thing from the Addams Family. A cut-off hand escapes from a dissection lab with one goal: to get back to its body. As it scrambles through the pitfalls of Paris, it remembers its life with the man it was once attached to… until they met Gabrielle. The film had trouble getting financing, and it took over two years to develop and create, nurtured by producer Marc Du Pontavice who runs French animation studio Xilam. It's being described as "one of the most exciting and original French animated features" and it definitely looks like it.
"You…ugly…butt…lump!" Time for something just a bit funky, and all kinds of weird. Song of a Toad is a short film made as a student project at the Film Academy Baden-Württemberg based in Southern Germany. Written and directed by Kariem Saleh, it took three years to develop and animate with a team of nearly 50 students and volunteers. The short film went on to win "Best in Show" at the Siggraph Computer Animation Festival in 2017. The Filmakademie presented the short on YouTube, and we just came across it recently. It's so odd and wacky and amusing that I couldn't help featuring it. Presented in German with English subtitles, featuring the voices of Andreas Mannkopff, Benjamin Hille, Gerald Friese. Saleh's Song of a Toad is about a human "carrying his unbeloved childhood right on his head – an old choleric toad." Give it a watch.
"Over the last several months, a number of citizens vanished into thin air." Studiocanal UK revealed the official full-length trailer for yet another adventurous animated movie based on toys, called Playmobil: The Movie. If it isn't obvious enough, this is based on the Playmobil toys + various characters, made by a German conglomerate called the Brandstätter Group. This whole thing is a Lego rip-off in so many different ways, and it looks like an absolute disaster of a film. "Packed with humor and excitement the film combines endearing and hilarious characters, thrilling adventure and breathtaking scenery in this original, animated heart-warming tale." Featuring the voices of Anya Taylor-Joy, Jim Gaffigan, Gabriel Bateman, Adam Lambert, Kenan Thompson, Meghan Trainor, and Daniel Radcliffe. It's pretty amazing they even ripped off The Lego Movie concept where real humans are playing with the toys. And then she gets sucked into their world. Seriously?! Is there anything original or interesting about this movie?! It looks so, so awful.
"This is your dream! You have to go for it, do you hear me…?" Vue Cinemas has unveiled an official trailer for an indie stop-motion animated film titled Strike, made by a small studio in the UK and being released next month. As pointed out on Twitter, "the title refers to both soccer and mining - you don't get much more British than that." Strike is about a young mole from the town of Diggington who dreams of becoming a soccer player (a "footballer" in the UK) but his big challenge is telling his father. "How can he tell his dad he does not want to work at the mine, it will break his heart… This mole with a goal… should he tell?" Strike stars the voices of Lizzie Waterworth, Ken Stott, Alex Kelly, Naomi McDonald, Tom Turner, Dave Mounfield, and Beth Chalmers. This looks cute, and it's great to see another stop-motion film out there.
"This is a story about the world's secrets that only me and her know…" Toho Co. has unveiled an official trailer for the Japanese animation film titled Weathering with You, the highly anticipated next film from writer/director Makoto Shinkai, who achieved worldwide acclaimed with the beloved animated film Your Name. Weathering with You is another new original film from Shinkai, featuring some stunningly gorgeous animation. The Japanese title is actually Tenki no ko, which translates to Child of Weather, as the film is about a young man who moves to Tokyo and befriends a girl who can manipulate the weather (the power to stop the rain and clear the sky). The original Japanese version features the voices of Kotaro Daigo and Nana Mori. This is one of those exhilarating trailers where you don't even need subtitles or translation, the animation speaks for itself. And I won't deny that I'm considerably excited to see what this film is all about.
"You can't give up, Chou." GKids has debuted the first official US teaser trailer for an animated film from France titled Funan, the feature directional debut of filmmaker Denis Do. This premiered at the Annecy Film Festival last year, where it was award with the Best Feature Film top prize. Funan is a searing and remarkable debut from filmmaker Denis Do, who uses his own family history as inspiration for a thrilling story of love, loss and enduring hope in the most trying of times. Featuring the voices of Bérénice Bejo and Louis Garrel. The story is about the survival and struggle of a young mother during the Khmer Rouge revolution in Cambodia, as she tries to find her 4-year-old son, torn from his own family by the communist regime. I've heard nothing but great things about this indie animated film, and it looks like it's as powerful and moving as it sounds. Definitely keep an eye on this - and watch out for the full-length trailer coming up.
"He specializes in behavioral disorders." Universal + Illumination have finally revealed a full-length trailer for Chris Renaud's The Secret Life of Pets 2, the sequel to the animated hit from a few years ago about pets and the life they have after their owners leave. This trailer comes after a total of six different teaser trailers focusing on individual characters from the film. Each of the pets from the original are now dealing with different life changes. Can Max, Snowball, Gidget and the rest of the gang find the inner courage to face their biggest fears? The full voice cast includes Patton Oswalt, Eric Stonestreet, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Jenny Slate, Dana Carvey, Albert Brooks, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan, Kylie Hart, Nick Kroll, Pete Holmes, and Harrison Ford as Rooster. This looks like it has all the cuteness and the charm and the fun of the first, with even more characters (and pets) to follow on their adventures. Have fun.