Paris shingle screens 'Zarafa' at Annecy

ANNECY

France’s Prima Linea Prods., whose “Zarafa” played in competish at the Annecy Animation Film Festival on Tuesday, is producing family adventure comedy “Loulou’s Secret.”

Gallic distrib Diaphana has tied down French theatrical and DVD rights to the toonpic, budgeted at €7.3 million ($9.1 million).

Prima Linea, run by Christophe Jankovic and Valerie Schermann, co-produces with pubcaster France 3 Cinema and Belgium’s Araneo. Canal Plus has Gallic pay TV rights.

First-timer Eric Omond helms, while Gregoire Solotareff, a children’s book writer/illustrator, is the film’s writer and graphic artist. Pic will be described as a film by Solotareff and Omond, Jankovic said.

Toon turns on Loulou, a young orphan wolf who sets out with his friend Tom, a rabbit, to look for his mother, arriving at the Carne Festival in Wolfenberg, a meeting place for carnivorous animals.

“Secret” will use 2D CG-generated, hand-drawn watercolors.

The challenge will be to better results for “Zarafa,” directed by live-action helmer Remi Bezancon and ex-Disney animator Jean-Christophe Lie, and distributed by Pathe. The paper-drawn 2D toon follows the 1820s tale of a 10-year-old boy who escorts a giraffe from Africa to Paris.

“Zarafa” grossed around $10.5 million in France after its February bow. The directors set out to mesh a European story, with echoes of Charles Dickens, with the detailed backgrounds of Japanese anime, and the character-focus and narrative drive of American toons, Lie said in Annecy.

“A lot of people in France are nostalgic about Disney movies in the ’50s,” Bezancon added, saying they influenced “Zarafa.”

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