Animated family films riding the crest of a wave
by Fabien Lemercier
- A huge amount of diversity but a more complex marketplace for adult-orientated projects – we decipher the trends at the 17th Cartoon Movie
Having assembled in Lyon last week at the 17th edition of Cartoon Movie, European animation professionals took the pulse of their highly dynamic sector, whose countless successes in theatres have whetted the appetites of investors – but have also made them more wary when it comes to choosing their target markets, and therefore their subject matter. Indeed, in view of the 60 productions selected (be they at the concept stage, in development, in production or completed) for showcasing, it clearly seems as though European production is now capable of making films that can easily rival (in both technical and narrative terms) those created by the US studios, up to a point where audiences will have no clue where these movies originated.
In keeping with this level of talent, the films at the concept stage and in development that were presented in Lyon included the French project The Jungle Bunch by David Alaux, the German-US film Hump, the British-Irish movie Unstable by Jeff "Swampy" Marsh and David Freedman, the Franco-German titles Vic the Viking - The Movie by Eric Cazes and At the Ark at 8, the Norwegian project The Call of Nature by Rasmus A Sivertsen and the German film My Fairy Troublemaker and Me by Florian Westermann. There were thus myriad projects targeting family audiences, which are the most sought after by European distributors in order to feed the theatres, and which are also the easiest to finance through pre-purchases from television channels; in contrast, the latter are a lot more hesitant when it comes to acquiring animated films for young adults and adults. A family-orientated strategy simultaneously reflects ambition (amassing large audiences) and conservatism (exposure to risk is minimised) and makes the early definition of the potential audience all the more decisive, particularly when a plot is brimming with gallows humour, like, for example, that found in the very promising Franco-Belgian title Noël au Balcon by Arthur Qwak and Didier Tronchet.
Standing as a testament to the very strong trend for projects to rely upon previous successes experienced by other formats (TV, comic books, novels), the 2015 edition of Cartoon Movie also served to confirm that a key player hailing from the world of video games, Ankama, has burst onto the cinematic landscape in truly dazzling fashion. The excerpts from Dofus - Book I [+see also:
film profile] by Anthony Roux and Jean-Jacques Denis (read the news), which is currently in production, that were presented leave us in absolutely no doubt about the quality of the work carried out by the company, and they bode very well, heralding a great success backed up by the 60 million players around the world.
By and large, it is the high quality of the animation developed in Europe that strikes you the most, with the artistic, family-orientated projects La Fameuse invasion de la Sicile par les Ours by Italy’s Lorenzo Mattoti, the British movie Jasia by Magdalena Osinka (revolving around the survival of a little girl in 1939 Poland), the charming children’s title My Life as a Zuchini [+see also:
interview: Claude Barras
film profile] by Claude Barras (read the article) and the fascinating project that is an adaptation of one of Taniguchi’s mangas: The Summit of the Gods by Eric Valli and Jean-Christophe Roger (read the article).
This level of quality is all the more remarkable when we cast our eyes over the projects for adults and young adults, which bring together the sheer power of animation and that of the subject matters. These include Les Hirondelles de Kaboul by Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mevellec (adapted from the successful novel of the same name by Yasmina Khadra and boasting a very appealing visual style), Nothing to Envy by Andy Glynne (a British-Belgian project that delves into the reality of life in North Korea), Mr Wu by Patrick Zachmann (a French production following the story of a French photographer in 1980s China) and even the impressive Cafard [+see also:
film profile] by Belgian director Jan Bultheel (a film that is almost completed, about an incredible, epic voyage undertaken by soldiers during World War 1).
These are just a few of the examples that fuelled this packed edition, which also saw the handing out of the 2015 Cartoon Movie Tributes. The trophy for Best European Director of the Year went to the British duo Mark Burton and Richard Starzak for the excellent Shaun the Sheep [+see also:
film profile], while the statuette for Best Producer singled out the French outfit TeamTO (which has recently had its Yellowbird… Ready for Take-off [+see also:
film profile] released in theatres), and the Best Distributor Award was bestowed upon Paris-based sales agent Indie Sales (read the news).
(Translated from French)