The 21st Cartoon Movie, the European pitching event for animated features, was held in Bordeaux last week, welcoming about 900 participants from 40 different countries, with 250 buyers including 137 distributors and sales agents. Organized by CARTOON, the 2019 edition of this professional forum was the ideal platform to assess the current state of European animation whilst boosting 66 new projects featuring a wide variety of genres and production techniques.
Pitching sessions attracted full-house audiences over the two days. The majority of the projects targeted family audiences (67%) — notable kid-friendly pitches included The Ballad of Yaya (Blue Spirit Productions), The Secret of Birds by Antoine Lanciaux (Folimage), Musketeers of the Tsar by Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi (Est-Ouest Films), Yuku and the Flower of the Himalayas by Arnaud Demuynck (La Boîte) and Henrietta – The MOOvie (WunderWerk). However, more and more surprising and innovative projects for young adults/adults are participating each year, such as I Lost My Body by Jérémy Clapin (Xilam Animation), The Walking Liberty by Alessandro Rak (MAD Entertainment) and Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Pierre Földes, based on the book Short Stories by Haruki Murakami (Cinéma Defacto).
The most popular projects during were a mixture of historical, contemporary issues and political films — Where Is Anne Frank? by Ari Folman (Purple Whale Films), Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles by Salvador Simó (Sygnatia), No Dogs or Italians Allowed by Alain Ughetto (Les Films du Tambour de Soie) — or, those with a particular artistic touch: The Crossing by Florence Miailhe (Les Films de l’Arlequin), Chicken for Linda! by Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach (supported by the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region; Dolce Vita Films) and Tre Infanzie by Simone Massi (Offshore). Cartoon Movie also presented films that have already achieved commercial success, namely Terra Willy by Eric Tosti (TAT Productions) and Chequered Ninja by Anders Matthesen & Thorbjørn Christoffersen (A. Film Production), the best-selling animation movie in Denmark ever with around 900,000 tickets sold.
Several well-known directors and writers had fresh projects on offer in Bordeaux: Claude Barras (My Life as a Courgette) with Savages!, Ari Folman (The Congress, Waltz with Bashir) with Where Is Anne Frank?, Marie Desplechin with Séraphine and The Crossing, Alessandro Rak (The Art of Happiness, Cinderella The Cat) with The Walking Liberty, Anca Damian (The Magic Mountain, Crulic: The Path to Beyond) with Marona’s Fantastic Tale and The Island, Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Felicioli (A Cat in Paris and Phantom Boy) with Tales of the Hedgehog, Alexis Ducord (Zombillenium) with Saba, Cédric Babouche (Chico Chica Boumba, Ernest & Celestine) with In the Forest, and Jérémy Clapin (Skhizein) with I Lost My Body.
The 10 projects that attracted the most buyers were…
- The Ballad of Yaya – Blue Spirit Productions (France). In 1937, the story of Yaya, a wealthy 9-year-old Chinese girl during the invasion of Shanghai by Japan. (In development)
- Where Is Anne Frank? by Ari Folman – Purple Whale Films (Belgium). The project is a 2D and stop-motion film about Kitty, Anne Frank’s imaginary friend. (In production)
- Musketeers of the Tsar by Paul & Gaëtan Brizzi – Est-Ouest Films (France). (In production)
- The Secret of Birds by Antoine Lanciaux – Folimage (France). (In development)
- Benjamin Bat by Patrick Raats – The Storytellers Film & TV (Netherlands). (In development)
- The 14th Santa by Caoz (Iceland). (In development)
- Dino Mite by M.A.R.K.13 (Germany). An adaptation of Minus Drei by Ute Krause. (In development)
- Henrietta – The MOOVie by Karsten Kiilerich, Cherifa Bakhti & Dieter Riepenhausen – WunderWerk (Germany). An adaptation from the book of Alexander Steffensmeier. (In development)
- My Grandfather Used to Say He Saw Demons by Nuno Beato – Sardinha em Lata (Portugal). The project is made in 2D (the city) and in stop-motion (for the countryside scenes). (In development)
- Terra Willy by Eric Tosti – TAT productions (France). An adventure movie about a young boy discovering a strange planet, its fauna and flora, and its dangers (Release date in France & Belgium: April 2019). The movie is already pre-sold in 70 countries. (In sneak preview)
In collaboration with CATS (Cluster Aquitain du Transmedia Storytelling) and Bordeaux Games, Cartoon also organized Cartoon Games, an event dedicated to the intersection of animation and video games. It consisted of an entire afternoon of keynotes by industry leaders (Luc Verdier, CEO of YS Interactive and Jean-François Szlapka, General Manager of SolidAnim), one-on-one meetings and exchanges of ideas. The main objectives were to create synergies between the animation, video game, transmedia industries and, for the first time this year, comic publishers. The long term goal is to encourage feature animation producers to bring on game & transmedia partners at the same early stage as co-producers and distributors.
This year’s participating video game, transmedia & comics companies included Ubisoft; Shinypix, creator of Robinson Crusoe game; Remote Control Productions (RCP); Timof Comics; Editions Akileos; Ys Interactive; SolidAnim, creator of Cafard and White Fang games.