J'AI PERDU MON CORPS

France

Synopsis

In Paris, Naoufel falls in love with Gabrielle. On another part of town, a severed hand escapes from a lab, determined to find its body again. During a dangerous expedition across the city, it remembers its life together with Naoufel until the accident. Naoufel, the hand and Gabrielle will find their story line in the most unexpected and poetic way.

Directors Statement

Eight years ago, Marc [du Pontavice, the film's producer] asked me to discuss Guillaume Laurant’s book, which he wanted me to adapt. At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in doing feature-length animations. I was somewhat concerned by production limitations and the compromises that this format demands. My background is in short film, and I love the space and total freedom that this format allows; I feared losing this in making a feature-length film. However, the story and the frank exchange with Marc won me over. This project seemed so remarkable that I took it on. As I did so, I had no idea I was signing up for eight years of hard work, stress, and deep soul-searching – as well as eight years of enjoyment, artistic encounters, and fascinating conversations. The story provided a new perspective: that of a severed hand that springs to life and searches for its body. I have always been fascinated by stories which offer an original world view through a device of their own creation. As in Jack Arnold’s THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN, quite apart from an odyssey-like physical trial, we are taken on a universal and breath-taking human journey: a journey which at once speaks to spectators’ senses and stays in their memory, and to which they cannot help but react. After reading the book, I remember looking at my own hand differently, imagining the things it would be able to experience, and the stories it could tell about me. This double point of view as both insider and outsider is not only the biggest challenge that this project presented, but what convinced me to take it on. This film is both my first feature-length film and my first adaptation. It was quite a challenge turning this piece of literature into a cinematographic work; what works well on paper does not necessarily work well on screen. As Truffaut said, “Adaptation is betrayal.” While the action sequences involving the hand remained reasonably faithful to the book, the rest of the story was radically re-worked for film. I began by eliminating a large section of the book so that I could focus on the hand as a character. I gave it a name to make the scriptwriting process easier and to bring it to life. She is called Rosalie. I even gave her a mole, like on my hand (just between my index and middle fingers). The challenge was re-defining Naoufel in contrast to Rosalie: their personalities are so different (perhaps even diametrically opposed) but they are united by their sensitivity. By her very nature, Rosalie’s relationship with the world is based on touch, and we had to draw out this same sensuality in Naoufel. So, I bestowed on him this childlike interest in using a microphone to record sounds onto a cassette tape. He has his microphone poised in his outstretched hand, ready to ask the world questions and to harness its meaning. Naoufel experienced the world through Rosalie, and vice versa. Both are seeking their destiny. I illustrated this quest with an elusive and errant fly, which Naoufel has been chasing since childhood. I re-wrote Naoufel’s life story, keeping only what was crucial and re-imagining the rest: his day-to-day life delivering pizza; meeting Gabrielle over an intercom (an encounter conducted only through sound but which reconnects him to the world and empowers him); as well as the crane, the horizon, the ice floe, the igloo, and much more besides that were born from this adaptation. I must sincerely thank Guillaume for his understanding and respect for my approach in allowing me so much freedom. This writing exercise took place over several years before we began to work on the storyboard, the editing, and the music. In the world of cinema, it is exciting (albeit labour-intensive) that there needs to be a re-write at every new stage of the process. While writing, I was on the lookout for a visual identity that could best convey the film’s ideas and aims. I needed something halfway between fantasy and reality, realism and illustration, photography and drawing. One of my main sources of inspiration was the painter Edward Hopper and his incredible work on backgrounds. It very quickly became clear to me that I was looking for a cinematographic vernacular with the broadest possible scope. I didn’t want the stage direction to be limited by technical constraints: this is where the idea of creating our own tool, of inventing a new technical philosophy, began. We would make the most of the flexibility of 3D animation while retaining the less polished aspect of 2D and let things run their own course within a tightly controlled setting. Working with the two techniques allowed me to combine the best of these different methods in order to create a new one. However, a film is nothing without sound, and this is even more true in animation where everything has to be created from scratch. I had to resolve each character’s voice, create the right acoustics, and find a composer who would be able to add another dimension to the film, as Dan Levy did. This film would not be what it is today had I not been surrounded by such a talented and committed team. This almost sounds like a cliché, but I really must thank them for the trust that they placed in me when this film only existed in my head, and for their energy when everything started to come together.

Director's Biography

Jérémy Clapin studied Animation and Illustration at the Paris School of Decorative Arts (EnsAD) at the end of the 1990s. After graduating in 1999, he started working in 2000 as an illustrator. In 2004, he directed his first short film, UNE HISTOIRE VERTÉBRALE, that was well-received in festivals. In 2008 he shot SKHIZEIN, in which he told the story of a man struck by a meteorite who finds himself 36 inches away from his physical body and becomes invisible. The film won more than 90 awards in festivals (Cannes, Clermont …) and was nominated for the French César. Jérémy Clapin then continued working in advertising before directing PALMIPEDARIUM in 2012. In this short movie, his way of filming animation becomes closer to live action. In 2019, he was singled out as one of the 10 animators to watch by Variety. I LOST MY BODY is his first feature film.

Filmography:
2012 - PALMIPEDARIUM, short
2008 - SKHIZEIN, short
2004 - UNE HISTOIRE VERTEBRALE, short
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Cast & Crew

Directed by: Jérémy Clapin

Written by: Jérémy Clapin, Guillaume Laurant

Produced by: Marc du Pontavice

Editing: Benjamin Massoubre

Production Design: Fursy Teyssier, Jeoffrey Magellan, Jérôme Florencie, Jocelyn Charles

Original Score: Dan Levy

Sound: Grégory Vincent, Manuel Drouglazet, Jérôme Wiciak, Anne-Sophie Coste

Animation: David Nasser

Main Cast: Hakim Faris (Naoufel), Victoire Du Bois (Gabrielle), Patrick d'Assumçao (Gigi)

Visual Effects: David Says

Nominations and Awards

  • European Animated Feature Film 2019