A cinema may not be the obvious destination for a hot summer night, but those who chose Ernest et Célestine over sunshine last week were the cool ones, basking in warmth radiating from the film instead. It was a night of many choices – overground or underground, passion or obligation, hope or fear, new friendships or old traditions, delicious marshmallows or strong teeth. Luckily I didn’t have to choose between madeleines and salted caramel brownies from Noisette Bakehouse, as she was very generous with her donation to the event (thank you Sarah *smacks lips*).
This was a special Minicine to launch the Animates season and encourage younger film fans to join in, scheduled at the start of the school holidays. This didn’t put off the big kids of course, who arrived fully prepared to melt at the magical storyline, screened in native French with subtitles. Having missed this at Leeds International Film Festival two years ago (and guessing from the audience reaction at the time that I had missed out), I was excited to see if it lived up to the hype – and like a charm, it did.
Odd couple Célestine (the young bright mouse who loves to draw) and Ernest (the grumpy old musical bear) meet in unusual circumstances, yet strike up an unlikely partnership as they turn their backs on the societies who have rejected them. The film is hand drawn in an old fashioned style, reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh or The BFG, depicting cute and comedic clothed animals living on cobbled streets, driving cars and running businesses. This combined with a scene setting score composed by jazz-cellist Vincent Courtois, makes for cosy viewing with a broad appeal.
The positive messages are clear: freedom comes from less judgement; focus on what you love, rather than what you fear; embrace your creativity and curiosity; say everything in a French accent if you want to sound ten times more adorable.
The feature film was preceded by a selection of three shorts, my favourite being Bottle by stop-motion animator Kirsten Lepore, a touching friendship tale between snow and sand ‘beings’, separated by the ocean. They communicate via messages in a bottle, sharing random objects from their opposing environments as they crave a deeper connection and escape from their equally lonely existences. I’m sure the film was incredibly difficult to create, but the simplicity of it was beautiful. No music was added but the sound effects as each character grew more individual in appearance, actually made it more striking and emotive rather than sentimental.
I gave both films full marks and would recommend to anyone who needs a sprinkle of life-sweetening and a reminder of how important friendships are, especially the random ones who teach us the most about ourselves.
The Little Red Plane dir. Charlotte Blacker – 3.45
Bottle dir. Kirsten Lepore – 4.43
Blik dir. Bastiaan Schravendeel – 3.00
Ernest et Célestine (2012) dir. Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner – 4.86
Well then, here’s to another high scoring night down at the Mills, with Ernest et Célestine narrowly missing out on overtaking Benda Bilili! as our top feature. So, so close. Likewise for Bottle which became our second-highest scoring short of all time.
Thank you to everyone you joined us on the evening and a special thanks to Sarah at Noisette Bakehouse for spoiling us rotten with cinnamon madeleines and salted caramel brownies. Sarah is currently taking up residency in Leeds’ Trinity Kitchen with her Madeleine Express where she’ll be serving up fresh baked goodies until the end of August, so get down there and get stuffed!
And congrats Marielle who correctly guessed ‘seaweed’ to win a colouring book, kindly donated to us by Sheffield’s Studio Binky.