Folman, Chomet, Leconte pics take center stage
Ari Folman’s “The Congress,” Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” and Patrice Leconte’s “Le Magasin des suicides” were among the most-buzzed toon titles at Europe’s Cartoon Movie, which ran March 3-5 in Lyon, France.Cartoon Movie, Europe’s foremost animated feature co-production forum, saw a swathe of stereoscopic 3D project presentations. Yet it was toonpics for adult auds, made by singularly voiced auteurs, which focused much of the forum’s applause. In terms of movies presented at Cartoon Movie, “The biggest change is the target public: in many recent years, it’s been mainly children. But ‘Persepolis’ and ‘Waltz with Bashir’ have opened new doors. We saw more adult stories,” said Marc Vandeweyer, Cartoon general director. “Directors are seeing in animation and stereoscopic 3D the chance to evolve a language that was impossible in traditional cinema,” said Cartoon Movie attendee David Matamoros, Zentropa Spain topper. “The cinemagoing public is used to vidgames and seeing animation on TV. They don’t have a problem seeing animation in theaters, ” Vandeweyer added. Folman and Gallic producer Didier Brunner at Les Armateurs (“Kirikou and the Sorceress,” “Belleville Rendez-Vous”) presented a brief trailer of animation scenes to a SRO crowd in a 270-seat theater. “Congress” rolls off Polish sci-fi writer Stanislaw Lem’s 1971 novel “The Futurological Congress,” a thinly-veiled critique of Stalinist communism, where Lem hero Ijon Tichy’s journeys to a futuristic world, which appears a utopia only because of its inhabitants’ hour-by-hour abuse of hallucinogenic drugs. Pic will mix around 40 minutes of live-action documentary, and 55 minutes of animation. “If it works, this could be a milestone for animation,” said Vandeweyer. “The Congress” has been set up at Jean Labadie’s mini-major Le Pacte and Les Armateurs in France and Germany’s Pandora Films (“On the Path,” “Gigante”). Chomet’s Special Screening of “Illusionist’s” first 20 minutes drew enthusiastic applause from most Cartoon participants, mostly Euro anime producers and distributors. Exec-produced by Jake Eberts and Philippe Carcassonne for Pathe, “Illusionist” already screened to upbeat response as a Berlinale Special at February’s Berlin fest. A presentation, including a trailer, by Leconte (“My Best Friend,” “The Man on the Train”) of his toonpic debut, the animated musical “Magasin,” also went over well. Lead-produced by Gilles Podesta’s Paris-based Diabolo Films, and adapting Jean Teule’s novel, the humor-laced project turns on a youngest son whose joie-de-vivre threatens his family’s suicide utensil shop business. There was reportedly also good word on Laurent Boileau and Jung Henin’s France-Belgium co-prod, “Approved for Adoption.” Cartoon Movie attendees voted for Ben Stassen’s Brussels-based NWave Pics as best European producer of the year for S3D “Sammy’s Adventures.” Stassen unveiled around 20 minutes of excerpts to upbeat response — both to the technology and story line. Wild Bunch Distribution won best European distributor, and Stephane Aubier and Vincent Patar best European director for “A Town Called Panic.” Beyond “Adventures,” reportedly the best-received of S3D projects was the trailer for the vibrantly colored “Of Hares and Hedgehogs,” featuring a Susan Boyle-ish hare in an “X Factor”-style talent contest, from Sunita Struck’s German production house Toons ‘n’ Tales. S3D looks to open doors. But it also raises concerns. One is access for European pics to S3D cinema theaters. Another, said Matamoros, the possible “emergence of a two-tier Europe where some countries — the U.K., Belgium and France, for example — are way-ahead in production compared to other territories.” Cartoon Movie ran March 3-5. Next year’s Cartoon Movie takes place March 2-4.