1863, the Oregon Trail. 11-yr-old Martha Jane accompanies her two younger siblings and widowed, impoverished father on a wagon train way out West. Discontent to simply gather firewood and cook, her rebellious, unfeminine behaviour outrages the group’s leaders. “Control your daughter”, they admonish, but when her father is injured in an accident Martha Jane rises to the occasion, donning men’s clothes, cutting her hair and generally taking control of the family’s wagon and the situation. When simmering resentment of this snub to authority leads to an accusation of stealing, she sets out solo on horseback to track down whom she believes is the real thief.
Rémi Chayé’s 2015 animated feature Long Way North won universal praise for its striking, ‘outline-less’ animation style, and he applies that technique again in Calamity. The visualisation is inspired by travel posters of the 1930s and ‘40s. “These images had very saturated colours and dynamic simplifications” explains the director, who applies his bold colours in flat, ungraduated blocks, but arranged with such skill that what sounds like a crude approach actually results in images of great sophistication and beauty. It’s the perfect medium to convey the inspiring, fast-paced story – part imagined and part based on historical fact – of ‘Calamity’ Jane’s early years, the forerunner to her predominance as one of the first independent women of the Wild West. Winner of the Cristal Award for Best Feature Film at the 2020 Annecy International Animated Film Festival.
“Rémi Chayé finds the perfect balance to please all generations of viewers as they follow the adventures of a new female hero, the valiant and endearing flag-bearer of the legitimate conquests of the female condition.” – Fabien Lemercier, Cineuropa.
“This fast-paced animated film with its well-conducted adventures retraces with great mastery the progress of female emancipation.” - Benoît Basirico, bande-a-part.fr
“Very colorful, with beautiful touches of color that transcend the immensity of the landscapes… offers us intelligent entertainment and full of lessons for both young and old.” – Eric Van Cutsem, cinopsis.
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