“Funan” opens 18th edition of FICAM

Meknes international festival of animated cinema honours iconic French producer Didier Brunner, pays tribute to legendary Japanese anime filmmaker Isao Takahata.

MEKNES - The Meknes international festival of animated cinema (FICAM) opened Friday with the award-winning animated feature film “Funan” by filmmaker Denis Do that depicts the horrors of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge regime without showing the worst atrocities.

The 18th edition of FICAM has a focus on the Spanish animated cinema represented by Alberto Vazquez, who made a big impression with his feature film Psiconautas, Carolina Lopez, director of the International Animation Film Festival of Catalonia (ANIMAC) and Emilio de la Rosa, producer and director of animated films.

The film depicts a powerful story of a young mother, Phnom Penh, whose three-year-old son is snatched from her by a feeling crowd as Cambodia descends into horror in 1975. She fights to save her son and keep her family together despite the barbarism that has gripped the country.

Mardochee Devico, President of Aicha Foundation, said in a speech to inaugurate the 18th edition of FICAM that his fondness for cartoons since his childhood was behind his interest in animated cinema.

“Aicha (the animated character) was drawn by Astérix creator Albert Uderzo. Since then we have always communicated through animated cartoons,” said Devicho.

“Aicha Foundation has been engaged in organising FICAM for over 18 years,” he said, adding that aim was to promote Meknes as an Arab and African platform of animated cinema and take part in the emergence of young Moroccan talents.

 The festival paid tribute to Studio Ghibli co-founder and award-winning and legendary Japanese animator Isao Takahata after his death last April at the age of 82 from lung cancer.

Among Takahata’s best animated films are “Grave of the Fireflies” and “The Tale of The Princess Kaguya.” 

Yoichi Kotabe, One of Japan’s best animators of his generation, said that he was moved by Tahakata’s pictures projected on the big screen.

 “This is my first time in Morocco. After seeing these pictures, I understood that he left his hallmarks in the festival,” said Kotabe.

French producer Didier Brunner was honoured for his great achievements in animated cinema, including the award-winning Ernest & Celestine.

Didier Brunner (R) receiving the honourary award
Didier Brunner (R) receiving the honourary award

British anime filmmaker Peter lord hailed Brunner for his excellent taste and commitment in the animated cinema industry as well as his encouragement of young filmmakers.

Mohamed Beyoud, artistic director of FICAM, said the 18th edition, which is held March 22-27, in the imperial city of Meknes, said that he was seeing an unprecedented number of people queuing up for cinema tickets.

“I’m very glad to see more and more people flocking to the festival. This means that we are reaping the rewards of our hardwork,” Beyoud told Middle East Online.

This year’s Aicha Grand Prix of animation 2019 was awarded to young Moroccan Anass Doujdid who won a prize of Dhs50,000 and a writing residency at Abbey of Fontevraud, France.