Bezançon gets animated with Zarafa
by Fabien Lemercier
25/07/2011 - With a rising reputation for dramas after the success of The First Day of the Rest of Your Life [trailer] and as we await Un Heureux Événement (“A Happy Event”, which has sold well internationally and will be released in France on October 5 – see news), Rémi Bezançon (photo) is also exploring animated filmmaking.
The 40-year-old director has indeed teamed up with Jean-Christophe Lie (who helmed the short film The Man in the Blue Gordini, in competition at Cannes in 2009 and nominated for the Best Animated Film César 2011) to make Zarafa, which is currently in post-production and will be released in French theatres on February 8, 2012. It includes voice-overs by Simon Abkarian, Thierry Frémont, François-Xavier Demaison and Ronit Elkabetz.
Scripted by Alexandre Abela and Bezançon with collaboration from Jean-François Halin and Vanessa Portal, the film draws inspiration from a historical event. It traces the story of a friendship between 10-year-old child Maki and orphaned giraffe Zarafa. This giraffe was given by the Pasha of Egypt to King Charles X of France so that he would help him liberate Alexandria from the Turkish invaders.
Maki accompanies Zarafa on his journey between Alexandria and Paris. He crosses the desert, travels by balloon, sails on a pirate ship, discovers the snow in the Alps, comes face to face with a pack of wolves, meets the king of France, is pursued then imprisoned by a fearsome slave trader.
But all Maki can think about is taking Zarafa back to Africa. And to achieve his aim, he will face all kinds of incidents with his friends: Hassan the Bedouin, Malaterre the balloonist, the strange cows Mounh and Sounh, and Bouboulina the female pirate…
Zarafa is produced by Valérie Schermann and Christophe Jankovic for Prima Linea Productions. Its €8.2m budget included co-production support from France 3 Cinéma, Pathé Films and Belgium’s Scope Pictures, and pre-acquisitions from Canal + and Ciné+. French distribution and international sales will be handled by Pathé.
A specialist in animation, Prima Linea Productions has film credits including U, Loulou and Fear(s) of the Dark.
(Translated from French)