Melusine to co-produce comedy toonpic

France’s SND-M6 Group has boarded “Aunt Hilda!,” Jacques-Remy Girerd’s follow up to “Mia and the Migoo,” the 2009 European Film Awards best animated feature winner.

SND will distribute “Hilda” in France, both theatrically and on DVD. It will also handle its international sales.

Stephan Roelants’ Melusine Prods. co-produces out of Luxembourg.

Written by Girerd, Iouri Tcherenkov and Benoit Chieux, and helmed by Girerd and Chieux, “Hilda!” is an “off-beat comedy treating serious subjects — two separated sisters, the genetic manipulation of plants — in a droll manner,” Girerd said at the Annecy festival.

“Aunt Hilda!” has no child characters but rather “adults who are somewhat immature and eccentric.”

“Children will be able to recognize themselves in the adult characters,” Girerd added.

Influences on graphic style include artist-cartoonist Ronald Searle, caricaturist Ralph Steadman and French cartoonist Jean-Jacques Sempe.

“We loved Jacques Remy Girerd’s previous movies so really worked on creating this relationship,” said Lionel Uzan, SND-M6′s director of acquisitions and international sales. “‘Aunt Hilda!’ is a fun adventure with incredible characters that kids and families will love,” and an “ecological theme that really resonates nowadays, he added.

Lead producer Folimage has finished story boarding and layout. It will start animation at the end of June, aiming for delivery May 2013. Girerd said it will be his last film as a director.

“Hilda!” is the latest production at France’s Folimage, the prestige 30-year-old Valence-based production house.

France Televisions has taken free-to-air rights for Gaul, Canal Plus pay TV rights. “Hilda!” has also pulled down subsidies from France’s CNC film board and the Eurimages co-prod fund. Rhone-Alpes Cinema, a French regional fund, also co-produces.

Regarding other Folimage projects, Alain Gagnol is near to completing the screenplay on “Phantom Boy,” Girerd said. Helmed by Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli, “Boy” is set up at Folimage and Belgium’s Lunanime, which also holds Benelux distribution rights. It will look to complete financing once the screenplay is ready, Girerd said.

Folimage feature film credits encompass the 2003 Girerd co-directed “Raining Cats and Frogs,” “Migoo” and 2010′s “A Cat in Paris,” from Gagnol and Felicioli.

Distributed by New York-based GKids with a voice-cast including Whoopi Goldberg, John DiMaggio and Matthew Modine, “Migoo” bowed in the U.S. this year. “Cat,” again handled by GKids, opens later this year.

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