Toon feature sparks buzz at Cartoon Movie

LYON — Philippe Aigle’s Paris-based Naia Prods. is teaming with Christian Baute’s Selavy in Berlin to produce animated feature “Adama,” a period odyssey/coming-of-age tale set on the cusp of the modern age.

Painterly in tones and distinctive in storyline, “Adama” was presented Friday at Lyon’s Cartoon Movie. It has proved one of the most buzzed-about projects at the Euro toon confab.

Having won prestige with shorts such as “La Marche,” Gallic artist and sculptor Simon Rouby, a Gobelins and CalArts alum, will make his feature film debut with “Adama.” He will work from a screenplay by France’s Julien Lilti, a former journalist.

The film turns on Adama, a 12-year-old boy who lives in a West African village, surrounded by forbidden cliffs, which he visits one day. When Samba disappears, Adama blames himself for enraging evil spirits and attempts to track his brother down, traveling over deserts, cities and seas from Africa to Europe to discover that it’s not evil spirits, but real men who have abducted Samba and taken him to war: World War I.

“Both an enchanting initiation tale and the story of a descent into hell, Adama tells of the birth of a man into the modern world, complex and ambivalent. This birth is Adama’s and this world is ours,” Lilti said.

Animation will be provided by France’s Studio Kawa and Germany’s Studio Soi, producers of “The Little Boy and the Beast” and Oscar-nommed “The Gruffalo.”

Events will be seen through the eyes of Adama, generating a mix of 3D and painting-inspired 2D.

“Characters are 3D. We’ve established a specific way to integrate 3D: Based on sculptures, using a 3D Direct scanning open source software to integrate them into our software,” Aigle added.

The 2D-3D mix will be aided by Rouby’s background as a painter and artist, Aigle said. The partners are producing a pilot, which is skedded to be ready by the end of April, he added.

Naia and Selavy’s partnership on “Adama” forms part of a longer-term alliance created in 2010, two years after Aigle ankled as CEO of Celluloid Dreams to set up Naia in late 2008.

He served as CEO of MK2 from 1997 to 2005.

Aigle told Daily Variety an ideal co-production structure for “Adama” would include France, Germany and Italy. Budget will be around Euros4.5 million ($6.2 million).

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