Rémi Chayé returned to the latest Annecy Festival, where his first full length feature Long Way North won the Audience Award in 2015, with the film Calamity, A Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary, where the film won the Cristal Best Feature Award, the fest’s highest honor. He had his hand in many aspects of this colorful and arty production, serving as director, co-writer, and art director. The story broadly imagines the pre-teen adventures of the girl who would grow up to be Calamity Jane, following her on her journey into the West, as she starts out on a wagon train with her father and siblings, gets herself into all sorts of trouble, and discovers herself and a few of her singular talents in the process.

The traditionally animated film was made through a French/Danish partnership, and was designed expressly for children, although adults can appreciate the beautiful color design. Chayé art directed the film, in collaboration with Colorist and Production Designer Patrice Suau, who took inspiration from ‘Les Nabis’ (Parisian artists that helped foster the transition from impressionism to abstract art full of symbolism) and the Fauvists, especially Gauguin, and the way he used color to describe light and space. As a consequence, the characters, often small against the vast landscapes, are lit from a sky bright with yellows, blues, and purples, and there’s a sense of geometry in the graphic design that expertly draws the eye to whatever central figure is meant to be the focus. So well integrated are the character and color design, the viewers will find themselves more connected to the story and visuals.

To read the review in its entirety, go to AWFJ.org HERE.