Original Title: PANIQUE AU VILLAGE
75 minutes / Belgium / 2009 /
French w/ English Subtitles / Colour Screenratio: 1: 2,35 / Speed: 24 frames / Second Sound: DTS Digital & Dolby SRD / Shooting Format: Stop Motion, Digital Nikon D1X camera
Directed by: Stéphane Aubier & Vincent Patar
Animated plastic toys like Cowboy, Indian and Horse have problems, too. Cowboy and Indian’s plan to surprise Horse with a homemade birthday gift backﬁres when they destroy his house instead. Surreal adventures take over as the trio travel to the center of the earth, trek across frozen tundra and discover a parallel underwater universe where pointy headed (and dishonest!) creatures live.
Each speedy character is voiced — and animated — as if their very air contains both amphetamines and laughing gas. With panic a permanent feature of life in this papier mâché town, will Horse and his girlfriend ever be alone?
￼A Town Called Panic is one of the rare full length animated ﬁlms ever to secure the honor of a coveted slot in the Ofﬁcial Selection (in this case, Out of Competition) at Cannes. After René Laloux’s La Planete sauvage (Fantastic Planet) won a Cannes prize in 1973, it was three decades until a French-language animated feature made a splash: The Triplets of Belleville. Hollywood animation has found favor with the Festival in the 21st century, with Shrek and its sequel, as well as Over the Hedge and Kung Fu Panda receiving Cannes invitations.
Innovative French animated feature Persepolis (2007) and acclaimed Israeli animated feature Waltz with Bashir (2008) were accepted into the Competition and the 2009 Festival opens with 3-D computer-animated Up! A Town Called Panic holds the unique distinction of being the only stop-motion animated feature ﬁlm ever chosen by the world’s most important international ﬁlm festival.
It’s a frenetic comedy through and through, with an arrestingly original visual style and memorably silly voices to match. The inseparable Belgian duo of directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar – known as Pic Pic André in honor of the central characters
in their ﬁrst popular hand-drawn cartoon — are the ﬁlm’s hands on animators. In their studio on the outskirts of Brussels they put 1500 plastic toy ﬁgures through their mile-a-minute paces over the course of 260 days of production. The improbable but irresistible
adventures of the ﬁlm’s plastic protagonists required as many as 200 “clones” per character, painstakingly animated to make a complex technique look as casual and spontaneous as children playing with their toys.
Famed in Belgium and internationally for the brand of absurd humor they’ve been purveying for over 15 years, Pic Pic André enjoy creating in an informal, family-style setting. For “Panic” is also a state of mind — some would say a state of being pleasantly OUT of one’s mind — shared by the members of La Parti (a production company created by Vincent Tavier, who produced and co-wrote the legendary Man Bites Dog.)
“Panic”, whose cast ﬁrst appeared in acclaimed short ﬁlms, follows the offbeat adventures of a dozen characters who happen to be generic plastic toys. Cowboy, Indian and Horse all live together across from their neighbors, Steven the farmer and his wife Jeanine. The directors were able to enlist a brand new character for the feature ﬁlm: Madame Longray, a very sexy and patient mare who teaches at the local music conservatory. Adding to the
customary antics are a band of underwater creatures, up to no good whenever they drop in from their parallel universe.
Aubier and Patar were ﬁrst inspired to animate Horse in an unsophisticated village setting when they were both students at the Belgian art academy in the eighties. The pair worked with eclectic paper cut-outs as well as hand-drawn animation when they hit on
the idea of moving stiff plastic toys through a stretch of countryside made out of cardboard. The “Panic” sensibility was born. Cowboy and Indian – perpetual specialists in creating havoc out of the most mundane occurrences — joined the cast and the village became the epicenter of frantic, relatively short episodes in which the gifted animators piled on dark, offbeat humor while imparting human emotions to cheap plastic toys.
“Panic” boasts a distinctive, easily recognized approach only its creators can provide: A cast comprised exclusively of ultra-basic but nostalgically evocative children’s toys, pleasingly bucolic settings disrupted by a rock ‘n’ roll sensibility, absurd dialogue and voice talents with such proudly silly delivery that there’s no mistaking this cartoon universe for anywhere else.
A Town Called Panic is also a cult TV series whose 20 memorably outrageous animated episodes were telecast in 2003 by Canal+ (in France and Belgium) prior to making their way around the world to festival acclaim and TV popularity (Nickelodeon, WDR, Canal+
Spain, etc.), eventually landing in the excellent hands of the folks at Aardman Studios, who handled the English dubbing.
Toronto International Film Festival, 2009 Read More!
Public 1, Ryerson: Sept 18 at 11:59pm (Midnight Madness)
Public 2, AMC 3: Sept 19 at 3:45pm
Press & Industry 1, Varsity 3: Sept 15 at 12:00pm
Cinefest, Sudbury International Film Festival, 2009
Saturday, September 26, Midnight
Sat. Nov. 7 @ 9:30 pm @ the Plaza Theatre (1133 Kensington Road NW), Calgary
Sat. Nov. 21 @ 11:30pm
Whistler Film Festival
Fri, Dec 4th 7:30pm - Village 8 - Theatre 7
Bytowne Cinema, Ottawa: Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2010
Broadway Theatre, Saskatoon: Feb 7 - 18
AMC, Dundas 24, Toronto: Opens Feb 19th
Fri: 1:40, 3:35, 5:35, 7:30, 10:05 Sat & Sun: (11:30 AM), 1:40, 3:35, 5:35, 7:30, 10:05 Mon - Thu: 1:40, 3:35, 5:35, 7:30, 10:05
Metro Cinema, Edmonton: Feb 26 - March 1
Revue Cinema, Toronto: March 16 - 18
Pacific Cinematheque, Vancouver: Opens April 1
Regina Public Library: April 8 - 11
Grand Theatre, Sault Ste. Marie, Fri April 16, at 8pm
Park Lane Cinemas, Halifax (Film Circuit): April 19
Art Gallery of Windsor: April 22
"It's plastic, but it's real plastic. A Town Called Panic is a riot"
- Vancouver Sun
"Wacky, demented, and nonviolent, A Town Called Panic really is a film for all ages."
- Georgia Straight
"When was the last time you saw a motion picture to which you could invite your five-year-old nephew and André Breton in the expectation that both parties would be equally pleased?"
- Georgia Straight
"uninhibited goofiness will leave its mark — not to mention a grin on your face — for days to come"
" breathless thrill to watch. Countless jokes and other little sight gags zip past at an incredible rate, and Aubier and Patar are clearly filmmakers whose bodies can only barely keep pace with how quickly their minds are generating ideas. It’s a miracle that so many of them can fit inside such a small town."
- See Magazine
"a film thoroughly infused with childlike energy and imagination, and capable of producing childlike joy."
- Vue Weekly
"This is the silliest piece of stop-motion animated nonsense to be shown ever at a theatre this or any year. But this is not necessarily a bad thing – if you love hilarity like that takes you to new heights of absurdity."
- Cinema Eye
"Surreal and hilarious"
- Globe and Mail
"the perfect antidote to people who are tired of watching computerized cartoons."
- Toronto Star
"The narrative crudeness is matched by the animation, a clunky-on-purpose madhouse of tippy movement that is persuasively unconvincing. It's plastic, but it's real plastic. A Town Called Panic is a riot."
- National Post
"many choice moments of frantic fun and gleeful absurdity."
- Eye Weekly
"Watching A Town Called Panic is like burrowing into a small child’s head as he amuses himself with a bucket of forgotten toys. I mean that in the best possible way."
- Now Magazine
"Learning French has never been this funny."
- Toronto Sun
"its unconventional charm lies not in the big picture, but the details"
"Sitting through A Town Called Panic is like watching someone on LSD play with a bucket of toys for 75 minutes."
"Stop-motion tale strangely compelling"
"PANIQUE AU VILLAGE has to be seen to be believed, imagination gone totally out of control, but in the most delectable way!"
- Toronto Franco
"but in the end I had a lot of fun which is all I ever want from an animated comedy about indians and cowboys. And, my God, I loved that loud-mouthed farmer."
- Film Junk
"Belgian film offers a flurry of insanity"
"Aubier and Patar's A Town Called Panic is an object lesson in how to put together a hilariously bizarre comedy on a shoestring budget. It gets a 5/5"
- Suite 101
"A Town Called Panic shines in the details"
- Sun Media
"A dubbed English version is inevitably on the way. But this subtitled version is the one to take your kids to. Learning French has never been this funny."
- Sun Media
"A Town Called Panic is finally receiving the critical attention that it deserves, and a stateside release of the feature is sure to please younger viewers who enjoy a nice bit of silliness."
- Twitch Film
"...its unconventional charm lies not in the big picture, but the details creators Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar developed"
- Yahoo Canada
"wildly imaginative, wickedly funny and totally out there"
- Chino Kino
"spontaneity rules. If anything, it's as if the filmmakers' labor-intensive technique has served only to keep their frivolity (barely) contained. Panic really can be reduced to child's play, apparently, and that makes it seem like a place worth visiting."
- KQED Arts
“A Town Called Panic” is an adventure story as fast-paced and exciting as any currently in theaters. The fact that it stars a dashing plastic horse and his excitable wards, a plastic cowboy and Indian, only makes it that much better."
- New York Times
"a wonderfully loopy stop-motion film that captures the many exploits of three plastic housemates: Horse, Cowboy, and Indian."
"Stop-motion animation: from the gothic spookiness of Coraline to the cool countrified hipness of Fantastic Mr. Fox to the surreal irrationality of the Belgian cult film A Town Called Panic (which showed at the Cannes Film Festival), the persnickety technique came into its own as a tool of artistic brilliance."
- Globe and Mail