©︎ Vivement Lundi ! – 2019

23rd Animation Division Excellence Award

Nettle Head

Animated short film

Paul E. CABON [France]

Outline

A hand-drawn short animation depicting a boy’s horrifying experience. Bastien goes out biking with two friends. They arrive at a closed-off ruin filled with discarded machinery and nettles. One of the friends tells Bastien, as if trying him, “After the fence, you can’t go back.” As Bastien steps into the zone filled with toxic haze, countless numbers of obscure black arms come after him. Bastien, who fights his fear and ultimately defeats it, joins his friends, who were watching his struggle, with a more confident look than before. The story is portrayed with reduced tones and ominous sound effects to express the mysterious, strange, and terrifying being that the boy confronts. The work, based on the artist’s own experience at a young age of jumping off a cliff into water with his friends in his hometown of Brest, France, tells a story of the world of teenagers, full of imagination.

Reason

This film depicts a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood with course lines and toxic, yet beautiful, color. The lines, although rough at first glance, are in fact an expression of the thorny insecurity of adolescence. Despite their roughness, the drawings of the boy’s struggle with the strange “arms” that come after him hit us to the core with the repulsiveness of the arms’ slimy texture. This is an extraordinary film in which roughness and smoothness coexist in a unique way. Witnessing the boy being reborn in his excruciating battle, and then returning to the real world, becomes a somewhat nostalgic experience for us, the (supposed) adults, as we observe from the safe space in front of our monitors the bittersweet, thorny essence of adolescence. But aren’t we just being “provisional adults,” watching the film with a false sense of security, overlooking that we merely grew up without experiencing anything like the initiation ceremony that this character endures? These are some of the feelings that this film evokes. As a “provisional adult,” I would like to present it with an Excellence Award. (WADA Atsushi)