Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Life as a Zucchini: The Animated Life of a Swiss Boy

By José Alberto Hermosillo
 
"My Life as a Zucchini" is the most gorgeous film of the year! A heartfelt stop-motion animation, colorful yet sweet and tender. A masterfully crafted coming-of-age Swiss production suitable for children of all ages.

The animated story recounts the early life of an introverted nine-year-old orphan named Icarus. His mother nicknamed him Zucchini. From then on, Icarus proudly keeps the Zucchini moniker to honor his mother's memory. 
 
 
Zucchini is the wallflower kind of kid who is also an excellent storyteller who communicates his experiences through drawings. 
 
 
His big eyes are two transparent windows that reflect the purity of his soul, emotions, and real feelings.
 
Zucchini, photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
 
Looking at those big eyes, we can tell when Zucchini feels lonely, sad, depressed, nostalgic, jealous, happy, or in love for his new friends. Zucchini once said, “Sometimes, we also cry of happiness...”
 
 
Zucchini has to assimilate the passing of his mother by using the help of Raymond, the supportive cop who tells him that his mother is already in heaven and she is Okay. There is no need for a guilty feeling.
 
Claude Barras Director of "My Life as a Zucchini," photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
 
Director Claude Barras identifies his childhood with these fantastic characters. He is influenced by classics such as the “400 Blows,” “Nobody's Boy: Remi,” “Heidi,” and “Bambi.”

Zucchini and his friends have one thing in common: they all lost their parents in particular circumstances. 

Barras comments that no matter how obscure the story is, we always find ways to tackle those critical subjects with children. As the Brothers Grimm did in Germany with their dark stories told in their own exciting way.

Zucchini is a dark novel that departs from the depiction of a kid who kills his mother with a shotgun. 
Those tragic stories happen almost every day in real life; not many can tell.

“My Life as a Zucchini” is a faithful adaptation to the screen of Gilles Paris’ Autobiography. Screenwriter Celine Sciamma (“Tomboy”) laid down an elegant and subtle screenplay on the page. She knew the story had to be up for kids of all ages. So, she wrote a less ghastly adaptation from the writer’s experience.

Inside the Fountain’s Foster Home, Zucchini and his “diverse” buddies are from different backgrounds and represent the most needed inclusion and diversity in cinema. 

The Zucchini gang teaches us an unforgettable lesson, “No matter how rough life can be, there is always hope for a better future.”
 
The Magnificent Seven

Simone is the red-headed sloppy boy, who knows everybody's story. Ahmed is the soul of the party. Jujube is the chubby, gluttonous/hypochondriac. Alice is the shy blonde who hides under her hair. The gentle African girl is Beatrice. And Camille is everybody’s sweetheart, a proactive, confident, lovable girl.

The ten-inch-tall puppets were beautifully handcrafted and came to life in a simplistic but realistic form. The dolls were made of latex, silicone, wires, and fabrics. 
 
Zucchini and his collection of mouths. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA

The ten-inch-tall puppets were beautifully handcrafted and came to life in a simplistic but realistic form. The dolls were made of latex, silicone, wires, and fabrics.
 
Camille and her collection of lips. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA

When the puppets needed a change of clothes for the next scene, the production stopped for the night.
 
 
The minimalist and handcrafted sets were hand-painted by the director and his crew. The art direction, combined with the perfect editing, makes audiences glide evenly through the entire movie.

Without sugar coating, "My Life as a Zucchini" draws the spectator from the begging to the end. The story flows smoothly with continuity, good pace, and gratifying surprises.
 
Max Karli & Pauline Gygax, producers, "My Life as a Zucchini." Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA
 
For the characters' voices, professional and non-professional child actors were cast. The children were placed in an actual set to let them interact with each other, Only then, the children were able to communicate their emotions realistically. 
 
The filmmakers taped the dialogues in action, letting the children's voices overlapped occasionally and in purpose to make the soundtrack realistic.
 
Director and producers. Photo by Jose Hermosillo © 2016 Festival in LA

This original animated film is Switzerland’s official entry to the 2017 Academy Awards for best foreign-language film. It also qualifies in the category of a best-animated feature, with a high possibility of getting an Oscar nomination in both types.
 
 
The film's saddest and happiest moment is when the children talk about adoption, helping them mature emotionally. As Simon says, “Adoptions with older kids happen rarely.” Children must be content with a simple goodbye and the sweetest memories of their good friendship.
 
Film critic Jose Hermosillo, Director Claude Barras © 2016 Festival in LA
 
“Zucchini” masterfully captured plenty of gratifying moments for the little ones and the grown-ups, created by the talented puppeteer.

“My Life as a Zucchini" left my heart uneasy, with sweet and sour feelings. Also, it keeps me thinking about how catastrophic and, at the same time, beautiful life can be when we are children.
 

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Copyright © Festival in LA, 2016

8 comments:

  1. I think it's a very good and inspiring movie. I can't wait to watch this movie.

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