My Life As A Courgette Dir: Claude Barras


Who would have thought an Oscar-nominated hit would be the perfect place for sex education? My Life As A Courgette is the one-stop-motion shop for dealing with tricky emotional issues and exploding penises.

First off we’ll deal with the confusing vegetable in the room, the kid’s name in the movie is Zucchini, while most of the world call the tubular veg that, the British use Courgette. Hence down here in the colonies we get My Life As A Courgette.

After accidentally losing his alcoholic mother – which he blames himself for – Zucchini is shipped of to a foster home full of misfit kids who feel unloved and unwanted. Zucchini soon finds companionship, acceptance and even hope with a visiting cop.

Channelling the likes of French films like 400 Blows, Swiss director Claude Barras has created a lovely little masterpiece (it’s only 66 minutes long) that has won fans and judges over on the festival circuit. Sadly he lost out to Zootopia at the Oscars, but Courgette has 100% on Rotten Tomatoes from over 100 reviews.

If you enjoyed the likes of The Boxtrolls or The Nightmare Before Christmas you’ll love the stylised and uniquely coloured look of Barras’s creations. It also helps he has Kim Keukeleire on board, the animation director of The Fantastic Mr Fox, which was why the family next to me were attending.

This might deal in heavy topics of abuse, neglect, deportation and murder but filtered through the eyes of a child it’s a lot easier to digest for young viewers. The harsh topics are diffused by the bright colours and adorable characters, with plenty of sight gags and fart jokes to entertain all ages. There’s a hilarious discussion between the boys of ‘the thing’ where I cried with laughter at their description of sex.

If you remember Celine Sciamma’s empathetic drama Girlhood from the 2014 NZIFF you’ll be pleased to know she’s here adapting Gillis Paris’s book, and what a script. Heartfelt, funny, and packing an emotional punch – I wasn’t the only one wiping a tear away at the end. And while she could have expanded a potential ‘villain’, she smartly focuses on the human connections.

If you catch the English dubbed version you’ll be treated to the sweet dulcet tones of Nick Parks and Recreation Offerman, as well as the vocal talents of Will Forte and Ellen Page.

We were lucky enough to have the director and cast of the short film that preceded it in our screening, with The World in Our Window an affecting accompaniment to My Life As A Courgette.

This lovingly crafted, tender tale will encourage conversation with your kids over some harsh issues and might even save you giving the birds and the bees talk. Or more likely have them ask hilariously awkward questions.

Clayton Barnett (

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