The award-winning filmmaker Sylvain Chomet, who lovingly put ScotlandÂ and Edinburgh on screen in the animated hit The Illusionist after a five-year sojournÂ in the city, is set to receive an honorary degree from the University ofÂ Edinburgh in November.
Chomet who has settled back in his native France and is working on a new liveÂ action feature, will have the doctorate bestowed by Sir Timothy Oâ€™Shea, Vice-Chancellor and Principal at a ceremony in the McEwan Hall on 28 November duringÂ the run of the 20th edition of the French Film Festival UK of which heÂ remains patron. The degree ceremony will be followed on 29 November by a civicÂ reception at the City Chambers in honour of the French Film Festival andÂ Chomet, hosted by the Lord Provost Donald Wilson. Free screenings of the Illusionist can be seen at the French Institute.
Chomet and his wife Sally, his producer on The Illusionist, said they wereÂ delighted by the honour. â€œI am looking forward to returning to the city that I grew toÂ love so much during my time there,â€ said Chomet. Richard Mowe, a film critic andÂ director of the French Film Festival, said: â€œIt is wonderful that the cityâ€™s mostÂ venerable University has seen fit to honour the talents of Sylvain.”
Chomet made his first feature film, Belleville Rendez-vous, in Quebec. It wasÂ a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and secured a couple of Oscar nominations. ChometÂ visited Edinburgh when Belleville Rendez-vous screened at the EdinburghÂ International Film Festival in 2003, and “fell in love” with the city. Mowe metÂ him at a Quebec cinema event in Paris and urged him to come to work in the city.
The Illusionist was based on a script that the great French icon JacquesÂ Tati had intended to make as a live-action film with his daughter. Tati died in 1982,Â but Chomet inherited his great ‘lost’ script because Tati’s daughter was so impressedÂ with Belleville Rendez-vous, in which one of the characters watches Tati’s film JourÂ de FÃªte on television. The Illusionist, which won a BAFTA prize, was originally setÂ in Prague and the Czechoslovakian countryside, but Chomet relocated it to London,Â Edinburgh and Mull.
The Illusionist is reviewed here and available on DVD from Amazon.
Chomet managed to find time while in Edinburgh to complete his first liveÂ action short film: part of a portmanteau project set around the French capital calledÂ Paris je tâ€™aime, with various directors contributing, among them the CoenÂ Brothers, Walter Salles, and Gus Van Sant. It was presented at the French FilmÂ Festival in 2007 in the presence of Chomet and Amelie producer Claudie Ossard.Â Currently Sylvain Chomet (48) has returned to the City of Light to work onÂ his first live action feature Attila Marcel, a musical comedy set in Paris. The mainÂ character, Paul (Guillaume Gouix), lost both his memory and the ability to speak atÂ the age of two when his parents died. He lives a monotonous life with his two auntsÂ until he meets Mme Proust. She has an herbal remedy that will allow Paul, now ageÂ 33, to travel back to the very beginning of his memory and discover what happened toÂ his parents.
SCREENINGS OF THE ILLUSIONIST (FREE)
Tuesday 27 of November â€“ 6:30pm
Wednesday 28 of November â€“ 11:00 am
At the French Institute
13 Randolph Crescent
Edinburgh Midlothian EH3 7TT