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PRODUCTION / FUNDING France / Czech Republic / Germany

The first-ever feature-length animation film painted on glass The Crossing to compete at Annecy


- French painter and animator Florence Miailhe employs her signature style of hand-drawn painting on glass in a story about immigration

The first-ever feature-length animation film painted on glass The Crossing to compete at Annecy
The Crossing by Florence Miailhe

Esteemed French painter and animator Florence Miailhe will be unveiling her first feature-length offering, The Crossing [+see also:
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, in the main competition of the 60th edition of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival (14-19 June). Miailhe has an award-winning animation career under her belt, as she has spearheaded a style of experimental animation dubbed “motion paintings”. This unique technique entails painting images directly in front of a camera while capturing each modified frame, and she is recognised for her hand-drawn painting on glass. “As with my earlier short films, I chose the animation of painting and sand under the camera,” said Miailhe. The French artist is thus extending the use of this style to a feature-length format, which makes The Crossing the first animated feature ever made by painting oil on glass.

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The story, written by Florence Miailhe and her collaborator Marie Desplechin, is inspired by the fate of the auteur’s family, which had roots in Jewish settlements in Russia. The protagonists, siblings Kyona and Adriel, are running away from unknown pursuers in an attempt to find a new home. “On the one hand, Florence managed to create a sensitive and captivating story about growing up, which at the same time reflects in comprehensible form the fate of victims caught in the nets of fascism, the holocaust and communism,” said the film’s Czech co-producer, Martin Vandas, of MAUR Film.

Almost half of the work was done by the all-female team of Czech animators in the MAUR Film studio, under the leadership of Lucie Sunková, a Czech pioneer of painting-on-glass animation. “The project offers Czech cinematography the chance to play a part in a unique artistic French animated movie unparalleled in the last 20 years,” reveals Vandas. “This exceptional film is the perfect illustration of the power of great art to impact an audience’s perspective on a very important worldwide crisis – the plight of migrant children who are left to fend for themselves, a situation which is increasingly dire,” noted Eleanor Coleman, head of Animation and New Media Acquisitions at sales agent Indie Sales, which handles the international rights.

The Crossing is being produced by Dora Benousilio, of France’s Les Films de l’Arlequin, and co-produced by Balance Film (Germany), MAUR Film, XBO Films (France), ARTE France Cinéma, MDR/ARTE Germany and Czech Television. The film has been supported by national funds in all three production countries, plus Eurimages and Creative Europe – MEDIA. Gebeka Films will handle the French theatrical release in June, while Pilot Film will distribute the movie in the Czech territory in November. The premieres in Germany and Slovakia are scheduled for spring 2022.

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