April 02, 2015

"The Old Lady and the Pigeons" by Sylvain Chomet (1996)

I'm very excited that this film is finally online for all to see in HD.

This animated short was written and directed by Sylvain Chomet. It tells the slightly surreal story of a starving policeman who dresses up as a pigeon and tricks an old lady into feeding him. The film was produced through the French company Les Armateurs with support from companies in Canada, Belgium and the United Kingdom. It was Chomet's debut film and won several awards including the Grand Prix at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival. It went on to win the British BAFTA Award and Canadian Genie Award for Best Animated Short. It was nominated for best animated short at France's 1998 César Awards, and the United States' Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 70th Academy Awards.

Sylvain had been based in London and worked as an animator in advertisement since the 1980s. He returned to his native France in 1990 and, inspired by Nick Park's Creature Comforts, set about making his own film. Chomet pitched La vieille dame et les pigeons to Didier Brunner, producer at Les Amateurs, with whom he began to work on the film in 1991. The producers had difficulties raising enough money, but decided to start anyway, with money from the National Centre of Cinematography.

The backgrounds were designed by Nicolas de Crécy, who had studied with Chomet and previously collaborated on comics projects. The team produced the film's first four minutes at the Folimage studios in Bourg-lès-Valence. They then attempted to use the finished footage to attract more investors, but failed. In 1993 Chomet relocated to Canada in hope of a fresh start; however, Brunner suddenly managed to pre-sell the film to the BBC and several other broadcasters, and production could continue. Five years after production started the film was completed.

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