Benjamin Renner

Fascinated by art in general and drawing in particular, Benjamin Renner's childhood was filled with comic books and a longing to be a graphic novel artist. Born and raised in France, the burgeoning artist had a love of the graphic medium from the start. But that ambition changed while he was attending the College of Fine Arts de Angouleme, where he was introduced to animation and found he had a real gift for it. This discovery took him to a two-year program at the Animation School Cartoucherie Bourg-les-Valance. While still studying animation at film school, he created his first animated short, "A Mouse's Tale" (2007), which he wrote and directed. The four-minute short was clever enough to get Renner hired as the art director on "Ernest and Celestine" (2013), produced by Didier Brunner and based on the much-loved children's books by Belgian author Gabrielle Vincent. Renner's role was soon upgraded to co-director alongside Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar. With its soft color palette and use of watercolor backgrounds, the film was a huge stylistic departure from the usual 3D CGI animated blockbusters, and brought the fledgling director plenty of attention. "Ernest and Celestine" was shown at the Sundance Film Festival and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Feature in 2014, a rare honor for a new animation director barely out of art school, especially considering that the competition included Disney's blockbuster "Frozen" (2013) and "The Wind Rises" (2013) from Renner's animation idol, Japan's master Hayao Miyazaki.