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Ernest & Celestine
Theatrical release poster decipting a mouse pulling a bear along with a bag.
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Stéphane Aubier
Vincent Patar
Benjamin Renner
Produced by
  • Didier Brunner
  • Henri Magalon
  • Vincent Tavier
Written by Daniel Pennac
Starring Lambert Wilson
Pauline Brunner
Music by Vincent Courtois
Cinematography Stéphane Aubier
Vincent Patar
Editing by Fabienne Alvarez-Giro
Studio La Parti Productions
Les Armateurs
Melusine Productions
Distributed by StudioCanal (France)
Cinéart (Belgium)
Release date(s) 23 May 2012 (2012-05-23) (Cannes)
12 December 2012 (2012-12-12) (France)
19 December 2012 (2012-12-19) (Belgium)
Running time 80 minutes
Country Belgium
Language French
Budget 8.9 million
Money made $8.1 million

Ernest & Celestine (French: Ernest et Célestine) is a 2012 internationally co-produced animated comedy-drama film directed by Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner. The film is based on a series of children's books of the same name published by the Belgian author and illustrator Gabrielle Vincent. The film was selected to be screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, as part of the TIFF Kids programme at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival and at the 2013 Hong Kong International Film Festival. It was selected for the grand competition at feature film edition of the 2013 World festival of animated film Animafest Zagreb and was screened as the opening film. The film was released in the United States in 2013 by GKIDS. There is also an English dub that was released on 28 February 2014, with the voices of Forest Whitaker, Mackenzie Foy, Lauren Bacall, Paul Giamatti, William H. Macy, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman and Jeffrey Wright. The film received widespread critical acclaim, and became the first animated film to win the Magritte Award for Best Film. It was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Academy Awards, but it lost to Disney's Frozen.


Celestine is a young mouse who lives in the underground world of rodents. At the orphanage where she lives, the caretaker known as the Gray One tells scary stories about the evil nature of the bears that live in the outside world, though Celestine doubts that they are entirely true. She loves to draw but must soon study dentistry, since that's what all rodents do, and to prepare, she must travel above ground to collect the lost teeth of bear cubs from underneath pillows. On one such occasion, the cub's family catches Celestine in the act and chases her into a trash can where she is trapped and spends the night. The next morning, a destitute and starving bear named Ernest discovers Celestine and attempts to eat her. Celestine convinces him to let her go by helping him break into the basement of a candy shop, where he can eat his fill. He is soon caught by the store's owner, however, and arrested. Celestine, who is behind on her quota of collected teeth, agrees to free him from the police wagon if he will help her break into and rob the teeth from the office of the store owner's wife, who happens to be a dentist.

Although the robbery initially seems successful, the pair soon find themselves being pursued by the police forces of both the mouse and bear cities. They manage to evade capture by stealing a van, and escape to Ernest's remote cabin. Ernest is initially reluctant to allow Celestine to stay with him, but they begin to bond after he discovers her love of art. He reveals to her that his current destitution is a result of his rejection of his family's plan for him to go into law, like his ancestors, due to his desire to become an entertainer. The two spend the winter happily together, though their joy is somewhat dampened by the constant radio broadcasts declaring that both police forces are still searching for them.

In the Spring, the police are able to track the stolen van to the cabin. Ernest is arrested by the mice, while Celestine is arrested by the bears. Both are simultaneously put on trial, in the main floor and basement of the same courthouse. Though each of them protest their unfair treatment along with the government's bias and prejudice, as well as refusing to sell out their respective companion, the furious judges refuse to listen. Ernest and Celestine then call the judges and the rest of the higher class out on their cruelty to the lower class common folk. During the proceedings, a fire is accidentally started in the courthouse, and while the rest of the citizens flee despite the furious judges' demands to stay, Ernest and Celestine each stay behind to rescue their respective judges. The judges are both humiliated and broken that their people, the ones they thought they could always rule, have abandoned them to save their own lives while the ones they sought to wrongfully punish are their saviors. Having truly admitted defeat in their own hearts, the shameful judges drop the charges against them and have no other choice then to grant their wish to be able to remain living together. All the while, the judges express their inability to comprehend the concept of unconditional bonds; and can only watch along with the shaken populace of each place as the courthouses burn to the ground.

Reunited in Ernest's cabin, the pair decide to write and illustrate a book, telling the story of their friendship, though with some embellishments after Celestine protests including the part of their meeting where Ernest attempted to eat her.


Character French
voice actor
English dubbing actor
Ernest Lambert Wilson Forest Whitaker
Celestine Pauline Brunner Mackenzie Foy
The Grey One Anne-Marie Loop Lauren Bacall
The Rat Judge Pierre Baton Paul Giamatti
The Dentist Dominique Collignon William H. Macy
Lucienne Brigitte Virtudes Megan Mullally
Georges Patrice Melennec Nick Offerman
The Bear Judge Féodor Atkine Jeffrey Wright
Chief Police of Bears Vincent Grass David Boat


In June 2013, the film won the Award of the Hungarian National Student Jury at the 8th Festival of European Animated Feature Films and TV Specials.

Award Category Recipients and nominees Result
Academy Awards Best Animated Feature Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner Nominated
Amsterdam Cinekid Festival Best Picture Won
Annie Awards Best Animated Feature Nominated
Character Animation in an Animated Feature Production Patrick Imbert Nominated
Directing in an Animated Feature Production Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Nominated
Production Design in an Animated Feature Production Zaza, Zyk Nominated
Writing in an Animated Feature Production Daniel Pennac Nominated
Editorial in an Animated Feature Production Fabienne Alvarez-Giro Nominated
Belgian Film Critics Association Grand Prix Nominated
Cannes Film Festival Art Cinema Award (Directors' Fortnight) Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Nominated
Prix SACD (Directors' Fortnight) Nominated
Prix SACD (Directors' Fortnight) - Special Mention Won
César Awards Best Animated Film Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner, Didier Brunner, Henri Magalon Won
Dubai International Film Festival People's Choice Award Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Won
Galway Film Fleadh Audience Award for Best International Feature Runner-up
Gijón International Film Festival Enfant terrible Prize for Best Feature Film Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards Best Animated Feature Won
Magritte Awards Best Film Won
Best Director Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar Won
Best Sound Frédéric Demolder, Emmanuel de Boissieu, Luc Thomas, Franco Piscopo Won
Portland International Film Festival Audience Award For Best Animated Feature Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner Won
Satellite Awards Satellite Award for Best Animated or Mixed Media Feature Nominated
Seattle International Film Festival Youth Jury Award Won
Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award for Best Drama Feature Film Nominated