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UDI Takes French Animation Legend Jean-François Laguionie’s ‘Slocum’ (EXCLUSIVE)

BORDEAUX, France  — Frédéric Corvez’ Urban Distribution International (UDI) has taken international rights to French animation legend Jean-François Laguionie’s “Slocum” a feature project in development presented at last year’s Cartoon Movie.

The sales deal was closed at this year’s Cartoon Movie, Europe’s premier co-production and sales forum for animated features, which is also taking place in Bordeaux.

An animation pioneer in France, Laguionie’s recent features take in 2016’s “Louise by the Shore,” a Grand Prize winner at the Ottawa Festival, and the Cesar-nominated “The Painting” (2011).

Produced by Camille Raulo and Jean-François Bigot at JPL Films, which also backed “Louise by the Shore,” the film is penned by Laguionie and Anik Leray, his regular co-writer since 2004’s “Black Mor’s Island.”

Returning to the 2D and 3D mix of “Louise on the Shore,” and using an exquisite soft-toned water-color palette which endows the film with a retro air of nostalgia – at least from what was seen in excerpts at Cartoon Movie –  “Slocum” recounts a man’s memories of growing up beside the Marne and his rapt excitement at his stepfather’s building a boat in the back garden, as his imagination is inflamed by reading the diary of Joshua Slocum, the first man to circumnavigate the world alone, from 1895 to 1898.

“I can tell you about my father’s voyage on his boat. It was a rather strange voyage, with no ocean or sea crossing,” the film’s official synopsis runs. “The boat stayed at home and so did my father. But that does not mean there was no adventure,” it adds.

The adventure of building the boat helps to bring father and son closer together.

Relating a coming of age of the imagination, “Slocum” is currently in pre-production and will be ready for delivery in 2020. It targets family audiences.

“Slocum” consolidates the collaboration of UDI with the French animation auteur, with UDI also handling international sales on Laguionie’s previous film “The Prince’s Voyage,” produced in Paris, Angoulême and Montréal-based Blue Spirit, which backed “The Painting” and Claude Barras’ Oscar-nominated “My Life as a Zucchini.” “The Prince’s Voyage” is now in production and will be delivered later this year.

Laguionie’s short “La traversée de l’Atlantique à la rame” won the Palme d’Or for best short film at the Cannes Festival in 1978; his “La demoiselle et le violoncelliste” took the Grand Prix at Annecy in 1965.

Boasting a strong line in French animation films, UDI has sold internationally Rémi Chayé’s “Long Way North” to more than 30 territories; Arthur de Pins and Alexis Ducord’s “Zombillenium,” which it also handled, is currently being released worldwide by Universal.

John Hopewell contributed to this article.

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