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The Road to El Dorado Director Working on Biopic of WWII Artist Charlotte Salomon

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Charlotte Salomon, Self-Portrait, 1940

French animator and director Bibo Bergeron, who directed The Road to El DoradoShark Tale, and A Monster in Paris, and also worked on films like The Iron Giant and A Goofy Movie, is working on a new animated movie set in World War II.

The feature in the works, Charlotte, will follow the story of Charlotte Salomon, a German-Jewish artist who died in Auschwitz at age 26. Salomon was hiding in the south of France from 1941 to 1943, where she produced 769 autobiographical paintings entitled Leben? oder Theater?: Ein Singspiel (meaning Life? Or Theater?: A Song-play). Her work is expansive and structured, including a prologue, acts, and an epilogue that utilize gouaches, transparencies, and more. You can see it and learn more about her at the Jewish Historical Museum, where her work is on permanent exhibition.)

Bergeron told Variety that the animated film would be true to Salomon’s work and hopefully appeal to a wide audience, including adults and families:

Staying true to Charlotte’s spirit and body of work, our film will be punctuated with fantasy, dream-like elements and the animation designs will be minimalist, in a similar vein as Long Way North. We’ll be animating and interpreting her paintings, placing the emphasis on the story which is extraordinarly moving

The theme, he says, is to show “how art can save our lives and help us stay sane.” Salomon, when beginning her painting series, said she was confronted with “whether to take her life or undertake something wildly eccentric.”

Writing the screenplay is Erik Rutherford and Mirian Toews of A Complicated Kindness and All My Puny Sorrows. Telefilm Canada is financing the development, Julia Rosenberg of January Film is producing, and Bergeron is pitching the project to partners this week with support from the Charlotte Salomon Foundation. I think an animated biopic about Salomon has a lot of potential to be a powerful, heartbreaking, and appropriate celebration of her art, especially considering how her work combines different disciplines, media, and styles.

(via Cartoon Brew, image via David Flam on Flickr)

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