CANNES — Eric Beckman and Marc Bonny, the founders of New York’s Gkids and Lyon’s Gebeka Films in France, will be the joint recipients of the 2017 Variety & MIFA’s Animation Personality of the Year Award.
The prize will be presented in Annecy next month at the 32nd International Animation Film Market (MIFA), the industry forum of France’s Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival which for a decade has been one of the fastest-growing film events in Europe.
Past recipients of the award, now in its third edition, are Chris Meledandri, founder/CEO of Illumination Ent., in 2015 and Peter Lord and Dave Sproxton. co-founders of Aardman Animations.
In 2017, the Award celebrate Beckman and Bonny’s mutual commitment to independent animation cinema. Both distributors, Gkids was founded in 2008, Gebeka Films way before in 1997. Both Gkids and Gebeka distributed the Academy Award-nominated “My Life as a Courgette,” Gebeka also co-producing the Swiss-French animated feature.
In a larger way of things, both Beckman and Bonny have been decisive in North America and France, two of the world’s key animation markets, in popularizing a sophisticated, upscale animation for family audiences and adults that has won Academy favor and U.S. niche audiences and created a new upscale 2D production phenomenon in France.
It is no coincidence that Gkids’ second release, “Azur & Asmar,” was by the same French director, Michel Ocelot, whose debut, “Kirikou and the Sorceress,” was Gebeka Films’ second release and first big hit in France. Or that one of Gebeka Films’ early successes – Hayao Miyazaki’s “My Neighbor Totoro,” is a highlight of the Studio Ghibli collection, acquired by Gkids for North American theatrical distribution in 2011.
In France, where it has co-produced Arthur de Pins’ awaited “Zombillenium,” which opens this year’s Annecy Festival, Gebeka Films’ sold 2.0 million tickets, earning around $15 million in box office gross, for “Kirikou and the Wild Beasts.” “My Life as a Courgette” notched up 810,000 admissions in France for Gebeka. Embraced by much of Hollywood’s animation community, Gkids has scored nine best animated feature Oscar nominations since 2009 – second only to Disney/Pixar. Since the two companies’ launch, public perception of animation, especially its artistic ambitions, will never quite be the same.