Picture Tree Intl., Ocean Films Board

World War I-set coming-of-age tale showcased at Annecy as a Work in Progress

ANNECY – Germany’s Picture Tree International and France’s Ocean Films have boarded animated feature “Adama,” Simon Rouby’s period odyssey-come-coming of age tale which bids fair to be a Work in Progress highlight at this year’s Annecy Animation Festival.

Launched at the Berlinale last year, Berlin-based Picture Tree Intl, which is run by Andreas Rothbauer and Alec Schulmann, is handling international sales aiming to present first images at September’s Toronto Festival. Indie Gallic distrib Ocean Films, which opened another animation feature, “Space Pirate: Captain Harlock,” to a remarkable $6.3 million this year, will handle theatrical and DVD distribution of “Adama” in France.

Lead produced by Philippe Aigle and Severine Lathuilliere for Paris-based production house Naia. Prods., and co-produced by Pipangai, “Adama” is now fully-financed, said Aigle, thanks in part to further investment from Gallic free-to-air broadcaster France 3 Cinema, pay TV coin from Orange Cinema Series, EDCA Sofica tax shelter coin. France’s Albatros Productions co-produces. “Adama” was supported by France’s CNC film board and Region Reunion from its inception.

Distinctive in story line, “Adama” turns on a 12-year-old-boy who lives in a remote 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, accompanied by Abdou, a tragically lucid griot and then by Maximim, a street urchin. He discovers that it’s not evil spirits but real men who have abducted Samba and taken him to war: World War I.

Key to “Adama” is Rouby’s mix of 2D animation for backgrounds and 3D for characters, attained by a sculptor making the characters which were then laser scanned with open source tolls and then incorporated into the film’s Maya software.

The 3D animation sets characters slightly apart from their worlds, which makes them seem very much alive and eases empathy with them, Aigle argued.

The 2D backgrounds dwell on effects of light, whether glinting off the tin shack roofs in Adama’s village or bathing the upper storey’s of a granite building in warm sunlight. That creates a sense of contrast between the beauty of the world and the horrors of World War I’s carnage.

Distinctive in technique, “Adama” is also a case study in cost containment, being brought in for just €4 million ($5.5 million), per Aigle.

Naia closed a deal with Alain Seraphine and Azmina Goulamaly’s animation Studio on the Indian Ocean of La Reunin to produce “Adama” at their studios. One single animation locations made for efficiency; Rouby’s 2D/3D mix also saved a lot of animation time.

“Adama’s” producers are now preparing the publication of a book, media platform and documentary with Cine Plus.

“Adama” has received support from La Reunion region, and also from the French governmental org which is commemorating the centennial of World War I.

At the very heart of this coming-of-age story is the idea that our Western culture has also its roots in Africa. Because we share a culture and a common past with Africa, a common future should be possible and we should change the way we look at immigration. We should never forget African people died in a war they were complete strangers,” said Aigle.

Now with 50% of the production process complete, “Adama” will be ready for delivery in 2015, Aigle said.

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