L'EXTRAORDINAIRE VOYAGE DE MARONA
France, Romania, Belgium
When I had the idea of making this film I felt that under the guise of a “family-friendly story” I could find a deeper meaning, one that is essential to (but also invisible) in today’s mundane reality. In this sense, the use of animation allowed me the freedom to create a unique space of trust and imagination. Here, in a playful way, I feel I can influence the perspective of the audience. Seeing things through a dog’s eyes is like giving everybody a mirror to face the truth, a truth which they are no longer able to deny. For me, this film is like a modern fairytale.
The destiny of Marona is both simple and essential, individual and universal. Live in the present; enjoy the small things; deeply connect to others – these are dog’s “lessons of happiness” for humans. The song we hear at the end spells out this message :
"Happiness is a small thing,
A saucer of milk,
A big wet tongue,
A place to bury a bone,
Love and death are the underlying motives that connect all of my films. MARONA'S FANTASTIC TALE embodies these themes in the most personal, delicate and insightful way.
I find myself reflected in Marona and in all of her masters: Manole, the solitary melancholic acrobat, who desperately searches for the poetry of life; Istvan, the gentle yet clumsy and emotionally-stilted builder; Solange, part-princess and part-wanderer, sometimes fully empathetic, sometimes purely selfish. These characters correspond to the different ages of Marona - childhood, adolescence, and maturity - in the same way that we perceive ourselves while moving through life.
I loved all the secondary characters and tried to find that bipolarity that exists in each and every person - we are all good and bad at the same time. I alternated between humour and emotion, trying to make all the characters lovable and complex.
The story also brought me the opportunity to explore new means of cinematic expression. I aimed to offer the audience a unique experience on a visual level: both the beauty of arts & crafts and the concept of subjective space. In this way, each character defines their own area: each has their own little territory, associated with their own personality. None of these islands are in harmony with another, but they form a certain family connection. Manole’s house and his surroundings are totally subjective spaces, inspired by children’s dreams, borrowed from poetry, where anything can happen. Istvan’s apartment, on the other hand, is governed by strict rules, like those that we have to submit to during adolescence, when we can’t find our place and don’t feel understood. In between Manole and Istvan we can find Solange’s apartment, where the rule of thumb is: Accept things as they are.
The film is engaging and entertaining, somewhere at the crossroad between visual art and music. As we laugh and cry, we finally, unconditionally, feel the love and tenderness which everyone longs for…
In 2008, she made her first long feature film as a director, screenwriter and co-producer, CROSSING DATES, a layered story that made Jay Weisseberg write in Variety “keep your eyes on Anca Damian”. The film was selected in international film festivals like Busan, Chicago, Goa, Cottbus, Gothenburg and Rome.
In 2012, her second feature as director, screenwriter and producer, CRULIC – THE PATH TO BEYOND, received international acclaim. The autobiographic narration and the experimental form got the Kafkaesque movie into many festivals world-wide: Locarno, Telluride, BFI London Film Festival, Annecy, Busan, New Directors/New Films in New York among other 250 festivals. The movie got more than 35 international prizes, among which the Cristal Award in Annecy.
In 2013, her next feature, A VERY UNSETTLED SUMMER, an innovative look up on a Pirandello-inspired love triangle, was an English-speaking film with international cast: Kim Bodnia, Jamie Sives and Ana Ularu. The co-production also gathered Romanian, Swedish, Czech and UK partners.
In 2015, her second animated feature THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN continued to establish Anca Damian’s visual innovation style combined with strong topics. The story of a Don Quixote in Afghanistan is also the second film of a trilogy that started with CRULIC. Its world premiere was in Annecy, and its international premiere in Karlovy Vary IFF international competition. It was selected in more than 60 festivals, such as San Sebastian, Leipzig, Amiens, Busan and won 11 international prizes. Anca Damian was also the first to receive the Audentia Award in 2016 offered by Eurimages, which intends to celebrate women who have had the courage to become a director, by giving their work greater visibility and inspiring other women to follow in their footsteps.
In 2018, her most recent live action feature MOON HOTEL KABUL premiered in Warsaw IFF, where it received the Best Director accolade, while her latest short animated feature THE CALL travelled the world in 40 international festivals, among which Annecy, Toronto, Sundance, and won five international prizes.
She was awarded the Mirada International Award in Madrid International Film Festival 2018 – New Directors Platform, for being “a total creator, a true landmark and an unchallenged inspiration for new directors”.
2018 - THE CALL
2015 - THE MAGIC MOUNTAIN
2013 - A VERY UNSETTLED SUMMER
2011 - CRULIC - THE PATH TO BEYOND
2008 - CROSSING DATES
Cast & Crew
Directed by: Anca Damian
Written by: Anghel Damian
Produced by: Tomas Leyers, Anca Damian, Ron Dyens
Original Score: Pablo Pico
Sound: Lionel Guenon, Clément Badin
Animation: Dan Panaitescu, Chloé Roux, Loïc Espouche, Mathieu Labaye
Main Cast: Lizzie Brochere (Marona), Bruno Salomon (Manole)
Nominations and Awards
- European Animated Feature Film 2019