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"There is an extraordinary degree of diversity"

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Marc Vandeweyer • Chief executive of Cartoon Movie


- Marc Vandeweyer, chief executive of Cartoon Movie, unveils the trends of the 17th edition

Marc Vandeweyer  • Chief executive of Cartoon Movie

A key rendez-vous for European animation feature co-production financing, Cartoon Movie is organising its 17th edition in Lyon from 4-6 March 2015. We met with its chief executive, Marc Vandeweyer.

Cineuropa: What are the trends of this 17th edition of Cartoon Movie?
Marc Vandeweyer: There was an unexpected increase of 37 % in the number of projects submitted. In addition, we’re trying to mix our selection with projects for children’s movies, the general public, commercial films, and others with a much more historical or political approach. This year, once again we have projects with fiction-type themes that are approached through animation. For example, A Chinese Life, that has as its backdrop the creation of the Peoples’ Republic of China in 1949, Jasia which deals with the beginning of World War Two, The Furcy Affair about a slave’s revolt on the island of Réunion, Nothing to Envy with testimonies from North-Koreans fighting to survive, The Radio about the lives of Chilean children and teens under the Pinochet dictatorship, Fritzi about the fall of the Berlin Wall, Mister Wu about the events in Tiananmen Square, The Swallows of Kabul based on Yasmina Khadra’s novel, and also The Tower about Palestinian refugee camps. But music also plays a role with The Truth about Simon Nino as a tribute to Nina Simone, just likemanga with The Summit of the Gods adapted by Jiro Taniguchi.

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Is this phenomenon of contemporary themes entering the animation sphere still growing?
It dates back to and has continued to develop since the breakthrough by Persepolis [+see also:
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and by Waltz with Bashir [+see also:
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. However, among our selection, we have 42 children’s movies, which is still a huge majority compared to 14 films for adults and young adults. The share of 3D movies is quite stable with 24 projects. That’s where Europe’s strength lies: the techniques used, the graphics offered, the content of the screenplays. It’s surprisingly diverse. Our role is to let the market develop and to be open to the different types of suggestions that are made because that diversity is a wealth. What’s more, we’re seeing a real renewal with a third of new producers this year for selected projects. In addition, fiction and documentary producers are turning to animation, just like directors.

What European countries form part of the 2015 selection?
France accounts for 40 % of the selection. Germany has come to the fore with nine projects and that ought to be highlighted because they had been rather absent for years. Then we have the United Kingdom (4 projects), but we also have projects from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Iceland, Lithuania, Poland (like every year) and even Serbia. On the other hand, Spain is less present this year as the selection committee didn’t like the projects presented – they were deemed to be too focused on video quality, whereas in recent years we had become accustomed to very high quality animation with Spain: it’s a curious phenomenon that leaves a slight gap no doubt.

What about increased competition in theatres for animation movies?
As many films obtain financing and are distributed, but the distribution results vary. There’s more competition from the Americans who have reacted in recent years by producing more animation films, thus occupying more space. There’s also European competition with more projects being completed. But there are also more fiction and documentary movies: that’s a general trend. There are two types of response. Alternative distribution models are being established and, in this domain, Europe must find its place and screen its movies using this channel. In terms of classic distribution, there’s no more time for word of mouth to take hold, we have to act quickly with strong marketing measures and use the Americans’ weapons: that’s our only opportunity and the Europeans are not yet tough enough for that. Nevertheless, we’ve noticed that the big European players often manage to exceed the million admissions, in France for example. And there are always little miracles like Minuscule - Valley of the Lost Ants [+see also:
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. Finally, it’s important to consider the formatting of animation movies which are influenced by America: the most successful movies are those that use classic Pixar-style 3D. It’s almost as if the audience and the children’s parents felt more reassured with this style. It’s very difficult for the much more artistic styles to find their target audience.

What are you most satisfied by as head of Cartoon Movie?
The most important thing is to see that European animation exists today on the international market and that there are five times more productions today than before Cartoon Movie was created. The greatest satisfaction is that the audience follows, even though it’s not automatic and slightly more difficult in the last five years. Over that period we’ve gone from 20 to 200 million viewers for animation movies: that’s huge. For the entire Goldorak generation and later the video games generation, the world of animation has passed into the collective unconscious. It can take the form of feature films, TV series, and video games: it’s no longer very important because what matters now is, is the story, not the technique. You see fiction movies with lots of animation, including American blockbusters, and animation that’s targeting much more hybrid themes and styles: all that induces the change of mentalities in the world. But what we’re really proud of is that the audience loves animation movies. The difficulty for Europe is to make the European audience understand that a quality supply of animation exists here.

(Translated from French)


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