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Big bold and beautiful

Within the world of animated features, BELLEVILLE RENDEZ-VOUS represents an act of resistance in the struggle against Disney’s cultural imperialism. Director and animator Sylvain Chomet chats about his baby. Words: Tom Dawson

French—(‘anadian-Belgian-British co-

production. Bel/(’t'illt’ Rt’ltr/t'C-Vrms'. is an

endlessly inventive tale that pays tribute to Franglaize icons as diverse as Django Reinhardt. Jacques Tati and (‘harles Trenet. It also dares to satirise American symbols of imperial decrepitude as the Statue of Liberty (which is depicted clutching a hamburger).

Fresh from a successful screening at the lidinburgh International Film Festival. its French- born writer~director Sylvain ("homet explains that he was determined not to be creatively stifled by the conventions of mainstream animation. ‘I wanted to show things that the major studios wouldn't like.’ he says in his fluent linglish. ‘They always have a cute character in their films and a hero and a villain and a happy ending. Bel/eri/lo is a bit more mixed. Nobody is either really good or bad. I don‘t like indestructible characters. who are brought back to life after a plane crashes on them. You always know who‘s going to win. I like the fact that my characters have a childhood and background and certain origins. and they can develop and they can also die.‘

A former comic book artist. Chomet spent five years bringing Bellerillc to life. The first 18 months he worked alone on storyboarding the whole movie. and for the remaining three and a half years he had to co-ordinate animation teams across four different countries. while many of his creative ideas dated back to before his short film. The Old Lady and the Pigeons. Asked about his predilection for bizarrely shaped characters. he says: ‘I always start with somebody"s movement. It‘s so important in animation and it sculpts my characters. It‘s to fit movement that

24 THE LIST $48 89;) 2003


my characters are designed in a certain way: the dog Bruno has a very big body with skinny legs because I envisaged a shaking dog climbing up the stairs and it being really painful to carry his body. The old ladies who are the Belleville triplets are tall and thin like basketball players. The advantage of animation is that you can mix different sorts of attributes: Madame

Sou/a is small and has a club-foot almost the size of

her head and Champion is as thin as his bicycle except for his huge thighs.‘

Chomet believes that cinema should always aim to surprise its spectators. Like his hero Tali. he prefers to work without dialogue. ‘I like to keep things very simple. because then peop|e have to bring a lot to the film. When there's no dialogue. they make more of an effort to try to guess what characters are doing. I like seeing films where you don‘t know where you are going.’ lle‘s scornful of ‘aggressive and dictatorial Hollywood movies which are edited so fast that your brain can't think. You just receive a flow of pictures and you can't remember anything. They‘re aimed at teenagers who have less imagination than children’.

He always intended Bel/('t'i/lc to be watched primarily by adults. although he admits to being 'touched' by its popularity with children. And he certainly won't be making a sequel. whatever the offers. ‘I don‘t want to do another noir comedy next time. I want to do something different. The art of animation is so new. Disney has been freezing it for years and freezing our minds in the process. Now is the time for imagination.’ (Tom Dawson)

Belleville Rendez-Vous opens on selected release from Fri 5 Sep. See review.

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IT'S til i N is l UNU ll’vll Cl‘nlJHe". {‘tll ".‘J. Hyatt." titllts 1‘. lhlii'rs. .eehaa tin". .t{\\1;.°.lllt‘ lwe' :hll‘l‘dla‘d‘, the awn". which 1:. I’M? There ‘6. .l". tl..-.‘tl| mt l(‘ get th'txltilr :;_> let}. .1. MOCKINGBIRD FILMS FIRST exhibition - In the Can - on Monday 8 September will showcase the work of young independent filmmakers. The event, which is sponsored by, and held at, the UGC cinema in Glasgow, gives filmmakers in Scotland an opportunity to display their work to an audience. Three no-budget short films will be shown and each filmmaker will introduce their movie and be available for questions and comments afterwards. All proceeds from the event will be given to Medicinema, a charity which installs cinema facilities in hospitals all over the UK and is hoping to raise funds to introduce similar facilities for patients at Glasgow’s Yorkhill Hospital. For tickets and information on In the Can log on to www.mockingbird films.co.uk or email: inthecan@mockingbird films.co.uk

Don’t kill the mockingbird, get In the Can with it

ll—ll» NAIIONAl SCHOUI S; l ll M Week runs lll Scotland between 2/31 October and has lost launched wnh booklng now available. (So on do at for the kids. If you are llll(:l(:i;l(:(l, check out wwwrislwotg CINEWORKS IS HOLDING AN Inspiration/Information event at the DCA (Dundee Contemporary Arts) on Saturday 20 September to inspire and encourage people to submit an application to their entry level short filmmaking scheme. Professional filmmakers will be conducting seminars and sharing their experiences. The deadline for applications to the event is 10 September 2003. Further information and application forms are available at www.cineworks.co.uk. Alternatively, people who are interested can speak to David Smith, Alice Stilgoe or Beth Allan on 0141 553 2620.