Culture channel Arte France is set to co-produce Léonard Cohen‘s debut animated feature “Flavors of Iraq,” a project presented at this week’s Cartoon Movie and produced by France’s Nova Production and Miyu Productions.
A documentary, ”Flavors of Iraq” “is the memory of a child, that of an apricot ice cream. A memory that allows the author, Feurat Alani, a French journalist of Iraqi origin, to paint the overwhelming simplicity of daily life, struck by the events of history,” said Arte France commissioning editor Rachel Adoul, explaining that the story will take in through “the sensitive family story” of Feurat Alani and his father “the great story of Iraq over the past 50 years.”
Taking place in Iraqi capital Baghdad and neighboring city Fallujah, Alani’s story was first told via 10,000-plus tweets which were later fashioned by Alani into a book that won the prestigious Albert Londres Prize for French journalism in 2019.
His story then became an Arte Creative web series, winning the Annecy TV series Jury Award in 2019. It will now be cast as an animated documenary feature focused on Iraq’s most recent history.
“It was evident that Arte would continue to accompany the authors in this new adventure. The drawing and the depth of the story has already enthralled readers and web-series viewers,” said Adoul, adding that “our ambition is to share an original story with as many people as possible on all our networks, and to shed a different light on a region, a people and a period both over-documented and little understood from the perspective of men and women.”
“Flavors of Iraq” is structured in three parts. The first covers 1989-2003, opening just after the conclusion of the Iran-Iraq war when Feurat is growing up and Iraq is collapsing. In the second, George W. Bush declares war on Iraq. The final part, from 2011 to 2017, explores the deep divisions separating Iraq’s Sunni and Shiite populations.
Alani is co-writing the script alongside illustrator and director Cohen, who was seduced by Alani’s vivid writing— originally tweets which were simple and straightforward but at times poetic, ranging from comments on small daily details to big historical events.
“The original material emphasizes sensation, just like memories,” said Cohen. “So I wanted something very radical and minimalist, focused on emotion and sensation, showng the minimum and letting the viewer fill the gaps.”
Paris-based Miyu Productions also presented another title at Cartoon Movie, which is now in production: Pierre Foldes’ “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman,” co-produced by France’s Cinema Defacto and Miyu, Luxembourg’s Doghouse Films and Micro Scope and Unité Centrale in Canada.
Miyu was founded in 2009 by Pierre Baussaron, who believed in the step-by-step growth of adult animation. “We’d like to embrace areas where animation still has a discreet presence, like animated documentary. ‘Flavors of Iraq’ is a good example of this and offers a story that is documented, universal and intimate at the same time,” he told Variety.
Cartoon Movie ran March 9-11.