Review: Vive FIAF’s First-Ever French Animation Festival
By Mercedes Vizcaino, Contributing Writer, February 6, 2018
The who’s who of the French animation world graced the red carpet at the French Institute Alliance Française’s (FIAF) Florence Gould Hall this past weekend. FIAF hosted the first-ever French Animation Festival: Animation First in the United States celebrating the most creative minds of France’s most prestigious animation studios and art schools. Highlights of the festival included guest of honor and Oscar-nominated director, Michael Dudok de Wit of The Red Turtle and winner for Father and Daughter with a special Q&A, and a collection of animated short films inspired by the poems of surrealist author Robert Desnos, virtual reality programs, documentaries, and 3D animation workshops for animation enthusiasts to enjoy.
Opening the festival was the screening of the critically acclaimed and winner of the César Award for Best Animated 3D film Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants, directed by Thomas Szabo and Hélène Giraud. At first glance, Miniscule seems like a children’s film, but as you watch it, it really is for all ages. The film addresses many of life’s lessons and ups-and-downs and how you overcome them. Set in a vibrant, luscious park with a couple picnicking, the wife unexpectedly has contractions and the couple rushes to the hospital leaving behind their repast — ripe for the picking by the park’s critters. We get a glimpse into the insect world coming together to feed their tribes. At the center of this tale of community is a young ladybug, which inadvertently gets caught in the middle of a war between red and black ants fighting over the remains of the picnic. The digitally animated graphics of these tiny characters interacting, sans dialogue, is quite a sight to see. The scope of the animation is so modern and engaging we forget that we are immersed in the lives of insects and not humans.
Following the New York premiere of Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants, mature patrons were treated to a series of erotic animated shorts from a variety of artists examining, love, life, passion, the sexual complexities between men and women and the interactions manifested. One of the shorts that stood out, Tram, is a comical interpretation by female director, Michaela Pavlátova, of desire and the objectification of men by a female tram driver in this gender role-reversing scenario. She drives a tram inhabited by businessmen and fantasizes about their genitals (in colorful girly-like pink hues) while they are distracted reading their newspapers and carrying about their business. This animated short, absent of dialogue, is a refreshing take on female erotica.
FIAF’s mission is to create innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. For more culturally exciting programs hosted by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF), click here to check out their schedule of upcoming events, performances, and classes.
Cover: Still from ‘Minuscule: La vallée des fourmis perdues’ (2013); all images © MMXIII Futurikon Films; Entre Chien et Loup; Nozon Paris; Nozon SPRL; 2d3D Animations.