Tutli-Putli nabs two at Cannes

Montreal animators 'absolutely wild' over unexpected wins, while Denys Arcand's Days of Darkness closes the 60th edition of the French festival amid mixed reviews

An animated short about a woman’s train journey was the big Canadian winner at Cannes, as the NFB’s Madame Tutli-Putli nabbed both best short film and the Petit Rail d’Or audience award at the close of the 60th edition of the French film festival.

Tutli-Putli marks the film debut of Montreal animators Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, who were both on hand to receive the awards.

‘It was absolutely wild… we didn’t expect to win,’ Lavis tells Playback Daily on the phone from the French island of Corsica. ‘When we heard our names, we jumped up as if we had just won the Miss America pageant,’ he says of the first win.

Lavis and Szczerbowski functioned equally as art directors, animators, sculptors and screenwriters on the project. ‘It’s more like a Coen Brothers mold than a [separate] producer-director role,’ Lavis notes.

The short film prize, sponsored by French broadcaster Canal+, comes with a broadcast deal and nearly $9,000 worth of equipment from Panavision Alga Techno for shooting a follow-up film.

Tutli-Putli is produced by the NFB’s Marcy Page and David Verrall, who both worked on the recent Oscar winners Ryan and The Danish Poet. The film will have its North American premiere in Toronto on June 13 as part of the Worldwide Short Film Festival.

Cannes awarded its top prize, the Palme d’Or, to 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, by Romanian director Cristian Mungiu.

Also at Cannes, British filmmaker Mark Conn’s short Withdrawal, starring Martine McCutcheon (Love Actually) as a homeless woman who dreams of life away from the streets, won the NFB short film competition. The contest, in its second year, invites viewers to screen 10 shorts online on YouTube or an NFB website, and then vote for their favorite.

Meanwhile, Denys Arcand’s comedy L’âge des ténèbres (‘Days of Darkness’) closed the festival on Sunday, playing out of competition to mixed reviews.

‘When it’s funny, it’s very funny, when it’s not, it drags,’ writes John Harkness of Toronto’s Now Magazine, while James Christopher of The London Times gives it four stars out of five, calling it a ‘fitting’ closing night film.