Ma Vie de Courgette a.k.a. My Life as a Zucchini

This poignant animated film from Switzerland is on its way to being an Oscar contender

My Life as a Zucchini was a stop-motion dream 10 years in the making for its director Claude Barras.  Now his first feature, based on a novel be Gilles Paris, is the official Swiss submission for a Best Foreign Language Oscar and may be up for Best Animated Feature.  

My Life as a Zucchini, which last month had it’s North American debut at the Toronto International Film Festival, gracefully recounts the struggles of its title character the young Courgette a.k.a. Zucchini as he tries to cope with the death of his mother and adjust to life in an orphanage. The stop-motion animation surprisingly enhances the stark realism of the lives of those abandoned, whose stories enter new territory in the animated world of lost children. The filmmaker’s touch is gentle though, despite the harshness that confronts these young protagonists, filling the film with humour and hope.

This Switzerland/France co-production opens October 19th in France and the French speaking part of Switzerland.  Limited North American releases in Los Angeles and New York are expected before the end of the year, just ahead of Oscar nominations.  Expect wider releases in 2017.

  • Source:  Unifrance

Swiss films have been nominated 6 times for Best Foreign Language Film Oscars and twice have brought home the statuette.  The last Oscar win for Switzerland was 1990’s Journey of Hope.

  • Source: Video Detective

It won Best Foreign Language Film against Cyrano de Bergerac and at the time the head of Unifrance, the organisation charged with promoting French films, was unhappy to say the least declaring there was a bias against French films. How else to explain, he wrote in the New York Times, how the Oscar could go to an”obscure low-budget movie from a country virtually without cinema”. Twenty-six years later Switzerland could never be called a country without cinema. We screened the film at an advance preview in Geneva, and there was tremendous excitement in the room. That’s saying a lot for a city with a reputation for reserve.