The protagonist of the BFM38 animation cinema section is one of the world’s leading masters in the field, awarded this year with an Honorary Crystal at the Annecy Festival.
Born in 1939 and with a career spanning over 50 years, Frenchman Jean-François Laguionie is the author of nine short films and six feature films.
His first work, La Demoiselle et le violoncelliste (The Lady and the Cellist, 1965), was a short film produced by his teacher Paul Grimault. His love for the ocean, nature and music – the recurring themes in all his films – are already palpable in this poetic debut.
In 1978, he won the Short Film Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival with La Traversée de l’Atlantique à la rame (Rowing Across the Atlantic), a grotesque odyssey frozen in time. In 1985, after five years in the making, he released his first feature film: Gwen, le livre de sable (Gwen, or The Book of Sand), an extraordinary adventure set in an apocalyptic world invaded by sand, produced by La Fabrique, an animation studio founded by Laguionie himself.
Then came Le Château des singes (A Monkey’s Tale, 1999), loosely based on Italo Calvino’s Baron in the Trees, and L’Île de Black Mór (Black Mor’s Island, 2004), a pirate tale inspired by Laguionie’s childhood readings and imagery.
Le Tableau (The Painting, 2011) is an amazing animated journey into the world of art and Louise en hiver (Louise by the Shore, 2016) a delicate poem filled with of memories and nostalgia.
Directed together with Xavier Picard, Laguionie’s latest work, Le Voyage du Prince (The Prince’s Voyage) takes us to a planet ruled by monkeys to offer us a lucid vision of what civilization is or is not in a true environmentalist and anti-racist manifesto.
«Towards which magnetic pole are Jean-François Laguionie’s fantastic journeys drawn? From the sands of Gwen to the abandoned seaside resort of Louise en hiver, from the rainforest in the Château des singes to the Venetian maze of the Tableau, like some kind of John Houston, Laguionie’s journeys across both the emptiness of great solitudes, as well as the stage of human comedy, with an identical sort of absence and justification. Like a ship eluding combat and turning away offshore, his cinema aims not so much at a destination but at an “elsewhere”, at a perpetual movement, a total wandering that, much like life itself, can perhaps only be resolved in a final shipwreck. An empty boat, covered with algae and shells, at the end of La Traversée de l’Atlantique à la rame; an elderly lady named Louise who, having missed the last train, must spend the winter alone, by the sea… ». (Xavier Kawa-Topor, general delegate of NEF Animation)
In collaboration with Festival International du Film de La Rochelle.
Jean-François Laguionie will be present in Bergamo.