PARANORMAN
2012, Focus Features, 92 min, USA, Dir: Chris Butler, Sam Fell

This horror-comedy hit follows 11-year-old Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee), a boy whose ability to speak with the dead is doubted by almost all around him. But when his hometown is threatened by an ancient witch, Norman’s unusual power proves crucial. John Goodman, Casey Affleck and Elaine Stritch costar in this Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature, which pairs its theme of acceptance for outsiders with state-of-the-art stop-motion techniques (including innovative use of full-color 3-D printers).


KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
2016, Focus Features, 101 min, USA, Dir: Travis Knight

Laika animator Travis Knight’s feature directorial debut is this magic-filled, stop-motion adventure set in ancient Japan. Aided by his friends Monkey (Charlize Theron) and Beetle (Matthew McConaughey), young Kubo (Art Parkinson) must reassemble the missing pieces of his samurai father’s armor to protect himself from his evil aunts and his grandfather, the Moon King (Ralph Fiennes). “A dark yet thrilling adventure quest that stands as the crowning achievement in Laika's already impressive oeuvre.” - Peter Debruge, Variety.


MY LIFE AS A ZUCCHINI
MA VIE DE COURGETTE
2016, GKIDS, 70 min, Switzerland/France, Dir: Claude Barras

This stop-motion gem about the resilience of the human heart won the Grand Prize and the Audience Award at the 2016 Annecy International Animation Film Festival. After his alcoholic mother dies, a boy nicknamed Zucchini (or “Courgette” in French) is befriended by a police officer and brought to a foster home, where he meets other orphans his age. Written by Céline Sciamma (GIRLHOOD, TOMBOY), Barras’ debut feature strikes a remarkable balance between the joys and sorrows of childhood. “Barras’ movie demonstrates the same qualities expected of responsible parents: It bothers to notice how Courgette actually feels. … The cartoon is never afraid to be cute, but more importantly, it’s committed to being real.” - Peter Debruge, Variety.


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