"Summit of the Gods" awarded Cesar for best animated feature

The Summit of the Gods (Le Sommet des Dieux), one of last year's finest animated features yet almost completely ignored in the U.S., finally earned some appreciation last weekend in its home country where it won best animated feature at the 47th César Awards, France's equivalent of the Oscars.

Adapted from a manga illustrated by the late Jiro Taniguchi, Summit of the Gods focuses on a legendary Japanese climber and a photo journalist who grows obsessed with the climber's exploits.

Currently available on Netflix, the France-Luxembourg co-production was directed by Patrick Imbert (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales) from a script that he wrote with Magali Pouzol and Jean-Charles Ostorero. We spoke with Imbert last year about how he adapted the manga to the screen.

Two other films were nominated in the feature animation category: Florence Miailhe's The Crossing and Denisa Grimmová and Jan Bubenícek's Even Mice Belong in Heaven.

Marine Laclotte's Folie Douce, Folie Dure (English title: Mild Madness, Lasting Lunacy) won the César for animated short. The other three nominees in the category were Empty Places by Geoffroy De Crécy, The World Within by Sandrine Stoïanov and Jean-Charles Finck, and Precious by Paul Mas.

An observation: The César animated short category puts the lie to the notion that women don't make as many quality animated shorts as men, which is an argument put forth whenever it's pointed out that the animated short category of the Academy Awards is overwhelmingly male-dominated. Since the Césars resurrected their animated short award in 2014, it has been won by women six times. Compare that to the Oscars, where the animated short Academy Award has been won by men for 12 out of the last 13 years. The sole time that a woman won in this 13-year period: the Disney-Pixar short Bao in 2019.

Many of the César winners and nominees are also in competition at the Oscars, but don't expect to ever see them nominated. Since 2014, of the 30 César nominees for best animated short, none have been nominated for an Academy Award.

Animation also made waves outside of its usual categories at the Césars. Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis won the documentary short award, against live-action nominees, for Maalbeek, which attempts to reconstruct the memories of an amnesiac survivor of the 2016 terrorist attack at Brussels' Maalbeek metro station. The film was described by one reviewer as “part collage film, part experimental video art.” It certainly pushes the boundaries of what is conventionally considered to be animation.