Six years after the debut of their multi-award-winning film Oh Willy…, Belgian animation directors Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roels have a new, mid-length stop-motion marvel to unveil as part of the Cannes Directors’ Fortnight short film competition: Ce Magnifique Gâteau! (This Magnificent Cake!).
The 44-minute anthology film is set in colonial Africa in the late 19th century. It tells the stories of five different characters: a troubled king, a middle-aged Pygmy working in a luxury hotel, a failed businessman on an expedition, a lost porter, and a young army deserter.
“We couldn’t have wished for a better premiere than being among the selected films at the 50th anniversary edition of the Quinzaine, which has always embraced and championed animated films,” the directors commented. “We are over the moon!”
De Swaef and Roels have been working on Ce Magnifique Gâteau! for six years, including the past two in production and post-production. Shooting lasted for 8 months and took place in the Beast Animation studios in Mechelen, Belgium. The puppets and sets were made at Personne n’est parfait ! in Bretagne, France.
The film was an opportunity for the filmmakers to further hone their unique stop-motion technique relying on wool, felt and textile which first enchanted festival juries in Oh Willy… That 2012 film totted up more than 300 nominations and 80 awards at film festivals around the world, including the coveted Cartoon d’Or, the Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short Film at AFI Fest, Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short at SXSW, and a César nomination for Best Animated Film.
Ce Magnifique Gâteau! Was written, directed and edited by De Swaef and Roels. Animation was carried out by Elodie Ponçon, Patricia Sourdès, Iris Alexandre, Mirjam Plettinx, and Andreas De Ridder. Production design was handled by Jean-Marc Ogier. The puppets were made by David Roussel, David Thomasse, and Anna Deschamps. The main voice cast includes Jan Decleir (The Memory of a Killer, Daens), Gaston Motambe, Wim Willaert (When the Sea Rises, Le Ciel Flamand), Goua Grovogui, Sébastien Dewaele (Cargo) and Angelo Tijssens. The dialogue is in Dutch, French, Aka, and Malinke.
The film was produced by Beast Animation (Belgium) in co-production with Vivement Lundi ! (France) and Pedri Animation (The Netherlands), with the participation of ARTE France and the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée (aide au programme), and supported by the Flemish Audiovisual Fund VAF, the Tax Shelter program of the Belgian Federal Government, the Région Bretagne in partnership with CNC, the Netherlands Film Fund, Procirep, and Angoa.