Grand Illusions: The Best of Recent French Animation

February 23–March 5, 2006


The secret is out: France has produced some of the most imaginative animation of the past 25 years. Lacking the big budgets and vast technological resources of American and Japanese studios, French animation filmmakers have nonetheless confirmed a simple truth—that it all comes down to good stories and memorable characters. This primer on contemporary French animation has these in abundance: a Ruritanian romance (Paul Grimault’s marvelous The King and the Mockingbird), a swashbuckling adventure (Jean-François Laguionie’s Island of Black Mor), an ecological parable (Jacques-Rémy Girerd’s The Frog Prophecy), an African folktale (Michel Ocelot’s Kirikou and the Sorceress), a dark Russian fable (Francis Nielsen’s The Dog, the General, and the Birds), and a film that defies all pigeonholing (Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville). Two special features bookend the exhibition: the North American premiere of Kirikou and the Wild Beasts, introduced by writer-director Michel Ocelot on February 23; and La Table tournante, Jacques Demy’s rarely seen collaboration with the veteran animator Paul Grimault, a loving tribute from one fantasist to another. All films in French with English subtitles, except where noted.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Assistant Curator, Department of Film and Media, The Museum of Modern Art, in collaboration with the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Unifrance.

Special thanks to Marie Bonnel and Janine Deunf (French Ministry), Antoine Khalife (Unifrance), and, for the loan of prints, Celluloid Dreams (Pascale Ramonda), Les Armateurs (Mireille Roullet), ArtMattan (Diarah N’Daw-Spech), and Sony Pictures Classics (Tom Prassis, Michael Piaker).


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