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HomeNewsArchivesForum Series Presents 'Triplets of Belleville' on June 9

Forum Series Presents 'Triplets of Belleville' on June 9

June 8, 2004 – "The Triplets of Belleville," the second of three award-winning motion pictures being presented on St. Thomas in the 3rd annual Forum Film Festival, will be shown Wednesday night at Market Square East Cinema.
Like the other two offerings, this animated French film will have just the one-night showing, at 8 p.m.
"The Triplets" received two 2004 Academy Award nominations, for Best Animated Feature Film and for Best Song ("Belleville Rendez-vous") and took awards at the AFI, Boston, Chicago International, Telluride and Toronto Film Festivals. Roger Ebert gave the 80-minute French production from French writer-director Sylvain Chomet a "two thumbs up" while pronouncing it "creepy, eccentric, eerie, flaky, freaky, funky, grotesque, inscrutable, kinky, kooky, magical, oddball, spooky, uncanny, and unearthly."
The story is about Champion, a lonely boy adopted by his grandmother, Madame Souza, a petite Portuguese woman with a clubfoot. As Champion loves riding his bicycle, she puts him through rigorous training that prepares him oneday to enter the Tour de France. During the event he and a few fellow racers are kidnapped by two mysterious French Mafia men and taken to Belleville, described by one reviewer as "a surreal impression of 1930s-1950s Mahnattan," where they are forced to pedal as part of a clandestine gambling operation.
Mme. Souza and her faithful, if obese, dog, Bruno, set out to rescue him. Their quest takes them across the ocean to Belleville, where they meet the renowned triplets, three eccentric female music-hall stars from the 1930s with a fondness for frogs who decide to join the rescue effort.
"Filled with inspired, twisted imagery, this nearly dialogue-free film is a crowd pleaser of unusual power with the strange, measured pacing of a dream and a great soundtrack of bizarre, alternate-reality '30s jazz," a RottonTomatoes.com synopsis states," pronouncing it "a very loving and very French salute to obsession, affection and persistence."
A Brazilian reviewer wrote that "I had to see the film three times just to write about it, never mind how many more times I'll go back to see it again just for the pleasure of visiting Chomet's creation."
A NetFlix reviewer called it "a fantastic use of animation for grown-up storytelling."
According to a Nova Scotia critic, "the movie reaches artistic heights by allowing us to recognize ourselves in peoples and customs that initially seem brazenly foreign."
And Thomas Becnel, a leisure activities newspaper editor in Florida, said that "it's hard to describe this animated film, but imagine 'Breaking Away' meets "Stomp' via 'The Aristocats.' It looks like nothing else you've ever seen. And it seems very French, with gypsy guitar music inspired by Django Reinhardt."
Becnel says you don't have to be a cyclist to love "The Triplets of Belleville," but it helps in appreciating some of the most vivid images. Experiencing "The Beast" in a St. Croix Triathlon might definitely do it: "When Champion pedals up a mountain road, gasping for breath, he and his competitors reach the breaking point one by one. Their faces look cadaverous as they gasp for breath, their thin chests heaving, and then stumble from their bikes. It made me short of breath just watching."
According to Chomet, who is credited for the film's screenplay, graphic design and direction, his major influences in animation were "'101 Dalmatians,' 'The Aristocats,' 'The Jungle Book' … Golden Age of the Disney Studio. Also Betty Boop for the surrealist kind of animation, and finally Windsor McKay for his beautiful animations, done a century ago but yet so modern."
Born in France, Chomet work in London for a couple of years writing scripts for an animated film and comic books, then moved to Montreal, Canada, where he has lived for a decade. His short film "The Old Lady and the Pigeons" won numerous French awards and was nominated for an Oscar.
Chomet says his style is "based on mime and character-acting. I'm more influenced by live camera work than by animation," including silent film stars such as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.
The film blends cel animation with computer-enhanced backgrounds and action. The use of 3-D digital technology was the only way to show the pack of cyclists racing and the crowds along the route, Chomet says, "a technical necessity, not an aesthetic choice."
"The Triplets of Belleville," like the other films in the Forum series, is rated PG-13. Tickets are $15; they are available in advance at Dockside Bookshop, Home Again, Interiors, Modern Music/Nisky Center, Parrot Fish Music and the Reichhold Center for the Arts box office. If seats are still available, tickets will be available at the theater prior to the screening.
And yet to come…
The three-film Wednesday night series opened on June 2 with "Osama," the 2004 Golden Globe award winner for Best Foreign Film. It will conclude on June 18 with "James' Journey to Jerusalem," which received the 2003 Cannes Film Festival Directors Award.
A droll mix of social commentary and modern fable from Israeli first-time feature film maker Ra'anan Alexandrowicz, the movie follows the adventures of young James, a devout, wide-eyed Christian attempting a pilgrimage from his African village to the Holy Land. "The film explores the economic, moral and spiritual hypocrisies of Western society through an evocative portrait of modern Israel's cultural and generational divisions," according to a release.
More details on this film will be provided in the week prior to its screening. For more information, call the Reichhold box office at 693-1559.

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