Michel Hazanavicius makes an animated film on the Shoah: “my family comes from that story”

The Oscar-winning director is currently preparing an animated film on the Holocaust, which is scheduled for release in 2024. He presented his project last Friday at the Annecy festival.

Change of register, once again, for Michel Hazanavicius. The director ofOSS 117, The Artist and Cut! is going to sign for the first time in his career a 2D animated film, of which he presented the first images last Friday at the Annecy festival.

Adapted from a tale by Jean-Claude Grumberg published in 2019, The Most Valuable of Commodities tells the story of a couple of Polish lumberjacks who take in a child who has fallen from a deportation train during the Second World War.

With the complicity of 3.0 Studio, known for its work on The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, Michel Hazanavicius is currently supervising the storyboards for his film. Production will begin in October, and the film is due out in 2024.

“I had promised myself not to make a film on the Shoah for intimate reasons, because my family comes from that story,” Michel Hazanavicius told Annecy. “This film will not be obsessed with the duty of memory, but rather with the duty not to wallow in this poisoned history.”

The director, who has already staged the war in The Search (2014), refuses in The Most Valuable of Commodities to use the words “Jews”, “Poland” and “Auschwitz” to keep a form of distance with his subject: “The fate of these characters will make it possible to touch on the question of the camps and to find light in the darkness”, he assures.

The presentation of "The Most Valuable of Commodities"
The presentation of “The Most Precious of Goods” © Annecy Festival 2022

Draftsman in his spare time, Michel Hazanavicius himself established the graphic style of the film, very realistic. The director showed striking drawings of his characters. Pages representing a multitude of faces of deportees also left a strong impression.

“I’ve been drawing myself since I was 10,” he explained. “I have a very intimate relationship with drawing. When I started working on the film, I very quickly thought of the first Disney films, Russian painting, Japanese prints. The idea was to have something classic, using the world of storytelling, whether it’s including things like fog or a candle on a table.”

“The characters are quite realistic with a high level of detail,” said Marie Bouchet, assistant animator. “In animation, we tend to simplify, but here, it pushed us to experiment and explore.”

The vocal cast brings together Gérard Depardieu, Dominique Blanc and Denis Podalydès. Jean-Louis Trintignant will be the narrator of this story, in his last film role. But you shouldn’t expect to hear them a lot: “It will be a film with very little dialogue”, warns Michel Hazanavicius, who entrusted Alexandre Desplat, multi-award-winning composer at the Oscars, with signing the soundtrack. .

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Michel Hazanavicius makes an animated film on the Shoah: “my family comes from that story”

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