ANNECY, France — Deeply inspired by the Annie Awards, the first-ever European Animation Awards will take place on Friday, Dec. 8 at Le Nouveau Siècle congress center and theater in central Lille, northern France.
The date will allow companies, if obliged or interested. to attend the European Film Awards one night later in Berlin, said Jean-Paul Commin, EAA secretary general.
Aiming to highlight and celebrate not just the best animation features and TV shows of the year but also the key collective crafts vital to the sector, the Emile Awards – as the plaudits are also known, after and – will offer prizes in 16 categories. Though statues will be handed out to Best Feature Film and Best TV/Broadcast Production, the kudos range wide and far to take in background and character design, character animation, storyboard, soundtrack and writing. European Animation Awards will also be given in both film and TV.
“As a professional who has worked his whole life in this glorious industry, I am very aware of the huge ocean of talents which exists – of animators, designer, sound designers and dozens more, and not excluding directors of course, whose work is seldom celebrated,” said Peter Lord, European Film Awards chairman in a statement read out by Jean-Paul Commin, EAA general secretary, at an EAA presentation at the Annecy Festival on Monday.
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Lord added: “We intend to start today the work of recognizing these creative people working in large studios, artisan workshops and indeed in bedrooms across the continent.”
“We are trying to give visibility to not only directors but writers and to show people behind a project in a sector where teamwork is vital. “A live action movie shoots 6-12 weeks. Animators can work together for two-to-three years,” Commin added.
Three selection committees,appointed by the festival board, will select nominated titles, one for each of the sections of short and graduation films, features, and TV and commissioned films. Each committee will have three members with three titles nominated in each category. “It’s not a lot, and maybe in the future we can expand to four or five,” board member Olivier Catherin said at the Annecy press conference.
For the first edition, submitted films must have been produced between January 2016 and July 2017, with future editions having only a one-year window of production.
Submissions must be made by producers over July 1-31. That window will widened in the future. The selected films will be announced around Oct. 15 with voting taking place from Nov. 1.
The European Film Awards will also grant a Lotte Reininger Lifetime Achievement Award, whose recipient has still to be decided.
The inclusiveness of the Emiles, one of their hallmarks, also stretches to membership, where the EAA aims to court members from across its 42 countries, taking in companies from the most mainstream to one-man bands. “In Europe we estimate up to 25,000 people are involved in animation,” noted Commin, when asked if students could apply for membership. “We feel if people are motivated enough to attend an animation school, they should have a word to say, and the word is their vote.”
In addition to personal memberships, companies and associations can become members, with the former being allotted three votes.
The choice of Lille is no coincidence. It is the capital of Hauts-de-France region, a highly active regional hub for film, TV and the audiovisual in general. Near the border with Belgium, it is one hour by train or car from Calais and Paris, an hour-and-a-half from Brussels.
Lille is also at the heart of Europe’s golden triangle for upscale animation co-production taking in France, Belgium and Luxembourg, which all have producers, co-production partners and tax break.
First-phase sponsors and partners for the first Emile Awards (European Animation Awards) include Pictanovo, the film-TV-audiovisual support arm of French region Hauts-de-France, as well as Hauts-de-France itself, a highly active regional hub, both of whom have backed the Emile Awards from day one, said Commin. Hauts de France is home to a dozen-or-so cartoon production companies and gaming-comicbook giant Ankama, which has moved forcefully into animation, world premiering its second feature film, “Mutafukaz,” at Annecy.
Other heavyweight backers include, crucially, France’s CNC film-TV board, and Studiocanal, one of its prime movers in animation and a partner of Aardman Animations, David Heyman’s “Paddington” movies and Brunner’s Folivari, on a project-by-project basis. Also on board as sponsors are Toonboum,
TV Paint, a 2D bitmap software company, Imaginove, the French Rhone-Alpes region digital content cluster ,the French Animation Producers Assn. (SPFA) and Luxembourg’s Federation of Animation and Virtual Image Trades (FMAIV).
Private-sector backing for the Awards is “coming together in a ice way,” Commin said at Annecy.
In an immensely fragmented production sector, even Europe’s biggest animation companies are small by comparison with the U.S. So it will take time for the EAA to attract a large membership, said Commin. But the European Animation Awards now have the minimum backing necessary to launch this year, he added.
The EAA have also tapped ambassadors to represent them in 30 of the 32 territories targeted.
It is also time to celebrate Europe’s animation sector as it experiences vigorous growth in some countries, Commin insisted. In France alone, which has 25-plus film schools, the animation sector can expect a 30% increase in total employee income in the next few years, the SPFA announced recently.
Animation is also building across much of Eastern Europe.
EMILE EUROPEAN ANIMATION AWARDS: THE CATEGORIES
Best Student Film;
Best Commissioned Film;
Best Animated Short Film;
Best Background and Character design in a short film production;
Best TV/Broadcast Production (Director);
Best Character Animation in a TV/Broadcast Production;
Best Writing in a TV/Broadcast Production;
Best Background and Character design in a TV/Broadcast Production;
Best Storyboard in a TV/ Broadcast Production;
Best Soundtrack in a TV/Broadcast Production;
Best TV/Feature Film (Director);
Best Background and Character design in a Feature Production;
Best Character Animation in a Feature Production;
Best Writing in a Feature Production;
Best Storyboard in a Feature Production;
Best Soundtrack in a Feature Production.
EUROPEAN ANIMATION AWARDS: BOARD MEMBERS
Marie Bro (Denmark); Didier Brunner (France); Olivier Catherin (France); Doris Cleven (Belgium); Jean-Paul Commin (France); Juan Carlos Concha (Spain); Ton Crone (Netherlands); Fabrice Fouquet (France); Peter Lord (U.K.); Odile Perrin (France); Stéphan Roelants (Luxembourg); Michael Rose (U.K.); Luc Toutounghi (Canada); Denis Walgenwitz (France); Paul Young (Ireland).