The history of French Animation

The history of French Animation

Picture: The Triplettes of Belleville, by Sylvain Chomet

French cinema has never been as animated as it is today. Internationally acclaimed animation schools, box office hits, and overseas exports all play tribute to French animation’s distinguished place in worldwide production, thanks to its diversity, dynamism and ambition.

The success of French animation today is thanks to the first pioneers whose experimentations led to a flourishing of the form, studios that cultivated renowned directors, and schools that have trained contemporary talent.

Luminous pantomimes, Emile Reynaud

French animation was born at the end of the 19th century with pioneers such as Emile Reynaud, whose "luminous pantomimes" were the first filmed cartoons, and Emile Cohl with his breakthrough animated cartoon Fantasmagorie.

A host of precursors, recognized today as ambassadors of French animation, include Paul Grimault (The King and the Mockingbird, 1980), René Laloux (Fantastic Planet, 1973), Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress, 1998), and Jean-François Laguionie (The Painting, 2011).

The King and the Mockingbird, Paul Grimault

Kirikou and the Sorceress,Michel Ocelot

Michel Ocelot's 1998 film, Kirikou and the Sorceress, met with such success that it marked a real turning point in the history of French animation, and proved the profitability of this type of cinema to investors.

Animation studios mushroomed one after the other, as did production companies of varying sizes. A cohort of talented directors produced masterpieces of animation. These include Florence Miailhe (The First Sunday in August), Sylvain Chomet (The Triplettes of Belleville), Jacques-Rémi Girerd (The Prophecy of the Frogs), Benjamin Renner (Ernest et Celestine), Sébastien Laudenbach (The Girl Without Hands),  Pascal Le Nôtre (Poppety in the Fall), Boris Labbé (Rhizome), and Céline Devaux (The Sunday Meal).

The Prophecy of the Frogs, Jacques-Rémi Girerd

To train these award-winning directors, various animation schools have been established, and some are now world famous: Gobelins, the school of visual communication (ranked best animation school worldwide), Supinfocom, La Powder, ENSAD, Emile-Cohl, EMCA, ESMA and many others…

Over the years, French animation and talents have gained international recognition. Today, French animation is at the top of its game. Leading producer of animated films in Europe, worldwide the country comes third behind only Japan and the US.






Follow us on Wechat

Scan this QR code to get the best news and events from across China sent to your WeChat every week

Bulletins de veille

L’Ambassade de France en Chine met à disposition des professionnels français de l’audiovisuel des informations régulières sur le marché chinois dans les domaines du cinéma, documentaire, télévision, numérique, jeux vidéo et musique. Retrouvez tous les deux mois notre :

Cultural programme at the Institut français in Beijing



2018 Francophonie contests: Apply now!

Useful links