The Findings of a Jury... Premises for an Analysis

in 38th International Animated Film Festival, Annecy

by Bujor-Ion Ripeanu

The unanimity with which the three members of this FIPRESCI jury have awarded the International Prize of the Cinematographic Press to the Canadian movie Nul poisson où aller expresses more than just a consensus of opinion: after successive selections made from the most interesting 60 short films, held this year in competition at the International Festival of Animated Film (38th edition), the final option for the three film critics (from Germany, Sweden / Bosnia and Herzegovina and Romania) was not only a decision justified by the members of the jury (Claus Löser, Midhat Ajanovic-Ajan and the undersigned), but also reflects their preferences within the broader context. There was a range of very different films presented in the global panorama for animation. When they came to the Canadian film by Nicola Lemay and Janice Nadeau (a film that shows the characteristic imprint of her graphics, after more than 10 years’ contribution to the success of the titular children’s book), they made a judicious choice.

The story is simple, lyrical and dramatic at once, crossed by a tragic vein, dominated by the candour of a childish design, by the pastel’s chromatic virtues and the purity of the game of lines (in the tradition of children’s book illustrations), marked by echoes or even direct referrals to Giacometti or to the modern satiric graphic. In a quiet village, where the lives of children resume in the succession of the days spent at school, masked characters (neighbours, which become human-birds of prey) trigger an offensive to hunt the ‘others’ — men, women and children — the sole reason being that they are ‘other’: they constantly hear under the threat of arms, screams of “Outside! Outside!” The film’s heroine, a young girl who saves a small fish swimming in a globular jar and who, before leaving, confides in another girl of the same age (her friend, whose family belong to the enemy), strikes the heart of the viewer beyond finality, suggesting repetition to infinity of such tragedies (Janice Nadeau was referring, in a discussion, to the message of humanity passed through the decades by the story of Anne Frank’s suffering).

As a unique jury selection — any jury assumes a certain risk, subject to all kinds of criticism — the FIPRESCI Prize does not exclude other subsidiary choices, owned by those who make the final decision, options that could not find a place in this inevitably limited context. First, there are two films that the Board members lingered over: one from Switzerland’s Gerd Gockell, Patch (nonfigurative, of great formal coherence, but with a purely aesthetic message, which received the official jury Prize) and the austere parable from Argentinian Santiago Grasso, Padre (where a single character — doll, an elderly woman, who lives shut up in her own suffering next to her sick father, a former military man, and ignores the reality beyond the walls — is demonstrative of the thousands of mothers who want to learn the truth about their sons, killed during military dictatorships).

It is obvious that the primary selection of films chosen for competition reduces, in a manner somehow arbitrary, contact with a variety and pluralism of manners with which world animation tries to approach current realities. Showcasing a film by awarding the Prize of the cinematographic press, intended to highlight the extraordinary or the absolute novelty, or exceptional individual vocation, or to support a new film school (recently affirmed in world animation), or a formula nearer to journalism, could become, in the future, the criteria for the special meaning of the FIPRESCI prize. Even if the Canadian film Nul poisson où aller does not quite fit with these criteria, it is located in an elite of artistic production in the field and is characteristic for a leading film school; based on McLaren at the origins of the development and the continuous renewal of world animation, a school which defined as such and where outstanding artists are always raising themselves.

The excellent collegial collaboration between the members of the jury was certainly an element which has led to the conclusions to support this FIPRESCI award. A panoramic view of the Festival will be published in the Romanian press.

Edited by Tara Judah