ANNECY, France — The prizes have yet to be awarded, and we aren’t making the case the below-mentioned series are surefire winners. Nor were they chosen in any effort towards ranking. Rather, the five TV films, chosen from 23 competing at Annecy, were selected in an effort to represent the competition as a whole, its diverse pool of submitting countries and the range in audience demographics for the represented entries.
‘B: THE BEGINNING’
Another big bet on anime by Netflix, partnering with animation studio I.G. (“Ghost in the Shell,” “The End of Evangelion”) and co-directed by another Japanese legend, Kazuto Nakazawa, responsible for the animated sequences of “Kill Bill: Vol 1.” Two tales in one, in a noirish psychological thriller, with echoes of “7even,” narcoleptic genius Keith Kazama Flick returns to service at the Royal Investigation Service of Cremona to hunt down a serial killer who murders vicious criminals. Their death, and Keith’s troubled past, has something to do with Koku, a young man with supernatural powers. Involved, pacy, crazed, violent; and renewed by Netflix for a second season in one of its banner announcements at Annecy.
‘THE HIGHWAY RAT’
This BBC film from Magic Light Pictures, based on the hugely-popular children’s book by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, fits nicely alongside last year’s winner of an Annecy Cristal for a TV production, “Revolting Rhymes,” in both subject and tone. The tale of a ravenous rat that steals and eats everything he comes across until he meets a sticky end features the voice talents of BBC stalwarts Rob Brydon and David Tennant.
Netflix again. This time an adaptation of Luke Pearson’s graphic novels from Silvergate Media and Canada’s Mercury Filmworks and Andy Coyle (“Atomic Pupet”). “I wanted to really try and kick the doors down for another kind of appeal for television shows. Not everything has to be big, whacky broad comedy,” Coyle said at Netflix’s Annecy presentation, talking the audience through the series. “Hilda” is more mature, for older kids, following a plucky blue-haired little girl who moves from magical wilds of elves and giants to big city Trolberg. Delightful and shifting 2D animation, sometimes warm, sometimes cool and spooky, offers a more sophisticated take on – and tribute to – young imagination.
“Jorel’s Brother” is one of two TV competition entries from this year’s Annecy guest country of honor Brazil. A zany, frantic kids show with heart and humor that has appealed to audiences of all ages in its home territory, “Jorel’s Brother” follows the titular character through a series of madcap adventures around the globe. “I think that the first child we try to please is the one that still lives inside creator Juliano and the rest of the team,” Copa’s Zé Brandão told Variety, explaining its ageless appeal.
‘PIG: THE DAM KEEPER POEMS’
Two episodes were jointly selected from the serialization of the Oscar -nominated short film “The Dam Keeper” from Tonko House, a new studio founded by Pixar vets. The series follows franchise characters Pig, Fox and Hippo, whose stories and personalities have been fleshed out across multiple platforms, including an upcoming graphic novel. With no dialogue, it relies on crisp visuals, bright sound effects and an original score from composers Zach Johnson and Matteo Roberts. “The world of ‘The Dam Keeper’ is a deepening universe with more characters, places and storylines that have yet to be shared,” Tonko House’s Dice Tsutsumi said in a conversation with Variety.