In Ain, at the Maison d’Izieu, in 1944, thanks to the work of the Émile Cohl art school, the studio under the fireflies and the memorial, reels of film collected by children become the material for a short animated film. An update that will soon be visible in Paris.
In the summer of 1943, the young chef Philippe Dehan was working at the Maison d’Izieu. In this mountain settlement, Sabine and Miron Zlatin have been taking in Jewish refugee children since spring to protect them from the Vichy regime. With the young man, who is enthusiastic about the cinema, the children draw stories with pencils, which they project in the evening according to the principle of the magic lantern. “The artists were there, they glued the small vignettes together to form large strips, they wrote the screenplay, they animated the evening with sound effects. It was a team effort.” says Dominique Vidaud, director of the Maison d’Izieu memorial. On April 6, 1944, the images freeze. On the orders of Klaus Barbie, the 44 children and seven educators present were rounded up and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where they were murdered. Only one educator will survive.
This teamwork was close to the heart of the director to recreate it. Sabine Zlatin saved three roles and scenarios after the raid. Many years later, the Maison d’Izieu teamed up with the Valence studio Among the Glowworms and the Émile Cohl School of Art in Lyon for a major project: reviving those comic strips that had become solid, to support them with a small animation to make movie.
“It was important to be as close as possible to what the children wanted to do back then.” Louise from the Émile-Cohl School of Fine Arts
Meticulous adjustment work begins for the first roll. Louise and Clélia, students at the Lyon Art School, took on the project during their internship at the end of their studies at the Among the fireflies studio. Its founder, Jérôme Duc-Maugé, says: “ We thought about an animation that is about respecting the original images, the poetry and the time of the evening. Clélia adjusts the illustrations, reframes, rebuilds certain sets. Louise concentrates on setting the drawings in motion.
For her, ” It was important to be as close as possible to what the kids wanted to do back then. After experimenting with a smooth animation, she will eventually settle for a choppy rendering. ” While working on the drawings, I didn’t feel the heavy side of the story they lived after, Move Clelia. We tend to feel the fun, light side of children’s games. On the other hand, it was very moving to tell us that we are taking up important elements of the history of France and Europe. »
The children’s words ring out again
In order to get as close as possible to the life of the children and the evening gatherings of the summer of 1943, for the soundtrack, a class of young allophone refugees from the Aimé-Césaire college in Vaulx-en-Velin is associated with the project. Students are introduced to sound effects and learn to use their voice to produce dialogue and narration. The words of the children of the Maison d’Izieu were once again able to echo in the premises thanks to the ephemeral workshop set up on site for two days in December. ” It was a very beautiful moment, very strong. It’s a story within a story, the role of these newcomers’ class in the making of this little animated film, remembers Dominique Vidaud with emotion. It is touching to see how they have taken this mission to heart. »
A crowdfunding campaign launched at the end of January to support the project quickly achieved its goal. Today the organizers hope to double the effort in order to be able to finance the adaptation of the other two saved rolls.
Ivan Tsar Witch! will be previewed on April 6, 2022 at the Maison d’Izieu Memorial, on April 13 at the BNF, in Paris, during an evening event, then in 2023 as part of an exhibition at the Museum of Art and History of Judaism (Paris 3rd ).