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Les Armateurs, Folimage Team on ‘Cheeky Anna’ (EXCLUSIVE)

First collaboration between two towering figures on Europe’s 2D animatin scene

Marking the first collaboration between two of the foremost prestige production houses of French – and European – 2D animation, Les Armateurs and Folimage, are teaming to develop and produce “Cheeky Anna.”

“Cheeky Anna” is also the first project to be put into development by Reginald de Guillebon since he took over the presidency of Les Armateurs from Didier Brunner early this year. De Guillebon is also the company’s majority shareholder.

A high concept fiction, with echoes of Quino’s Argentine comic-strip “Mafalda,” “Cheeky Anna” turns on a naughty girl who does everything she can to not go to school. Adding to the mix, in an intriguing interface, Anna interacts with an external voice that comments on the whole series.

In development, “Cheeky Anna” is directed by the Folimage-based Elena Pomares, whose 2010 “The Henhouse,” a hand-drawn short and graduation film from the National Film & Television School, won top prizes at the Alaska, Yosemite, Woods Hole, Anilogue and Nevada Festivals.

Series is 52 three-minute segs. It has a treatment. Full details of “Cheeky Ana” will be revealed at Toulouse’s Cartoon Forum on Thursday.

An alliance between Les Armateurs and Folimage is logical. As De Guillebon, also a Folimage minority shareholder, observed at the Annecy Animation Festival, while both producers like the same thing and have won multiple accolades for their exquisite and often moving 2D animation, the two animation powerhouses have culturally very different but complementary business models.

Les Armateurs – whose credits include Tomm Moore’s “The Secret of Kells,” Sylvain’s Chomet’s “The Triplets of Belleville” and Benjamin Renner’s “Ernest and Celestine,” all of which scored Academy Award nominations, plus Michel Ocelot’s “Kirikou” trilogy – traditionally builds a studio every time it produces an animation film or TV series, crewing up on animators. That is a laborious and costly process.

Founded by Jacques-Remy Girerd in 1981, Folimage – which produced the Oscar-nommed “A Cat in Paris” and was a European Animated Feature Film winner in 2009 for Girerd’s “Mia and the Migoo” – is based out of Bourg-les-Valence, between Lyon and Marseille, and has set out from its beginning to create an animation hub complete with a permanent studio, staff and buildings, scholarships for short-filmmakers and a multiple-partner ownership.

On “Cheeky Anna,” Les Armateurs will carry out the development, pre-production and graphic design and Foliage will follow through on the animation and everything else for the final picture, said Les Armateurs’ co-executive managing director Ivan Rouveure. He added that “Cheeky Ana” would be developed with an eye on the international market.

“We want to maintain the high-quality pf production, the great graphic design for which Les Armateurs is known but to give ‘Cheeky Anna’ a twist to be more internationally appealing,” said De Guilllebon.

“The market is getting so hard to finance or co-finance animation, and we’d like it to travel, to get our name about more.”

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