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Cartoon Forum: 30th Anniversary, Little Giants and New Generations

TOULOUSE, France –  Celebrating its 30th anniversary, Cartoon Forum wrapped Sept. 19 having showcased the ever-growing strength of European animation. 85 projects were pitched from 24 countries at the co-production forum platform that played host to north of 1,000 investors, distributors and producers – a record number.

Falling on French-speaking Belgium – Wallonie-Bruxelles – whose animators are aptly called the little giants of animation – this year’s Spotlight fore-fronted the technical skills of a region that has been betting intelligently on animation for several decades.

Wallonie-Bruxelles offers not only service companies and co-pruction partners but also strong tax incentives and regional funding. Two “little giants” won Cartoon Tributes, OUFTivi as best broadcaster and Panique! (“Ernest & Celestine”, “The Big Bad Wolf and Other Tales”) as best producer. Ireland’s Telegael (“Kulipari: an Army of Frogs”) took home Cartoon Forum’s best investor/distributor Tribute.

Belgium and Germany stood out at Cartoon Forum with nine and seven projects respectively. Biggest attendee, however, was France  with 26

projects, appropriate for a country which is still the largest producer of animation in Europe and third in the world, only behind the U.S and Japan.

Faced by the consolidation of streaming giants, the European animation sector has shown a considerable capacity to adapt. with French animation representing in 2018 62.4% of the 15,184 hours of animation series that national channels broadcast in a day, 6.5% more than 2017.

With the official announcement of the launch  in December, France Télévisions’ young digital platform Okoo opens up production opportunities for animation for 3-12 kids.

Three Forum projects drew immediate attention: “Lucy Lost” a Xilam Animation production based on  the book “Listen to the Moon” by Michael Morpurgo; and “Le College Noir,” a co-production between Bayard Jeunesse Animation, Milan Presse and Studio La Cachette which marks another book adaptation from Ulysse Malassagne, director of the series and founder of the La Cachette who has caught attention with its hand-drawn style and fluid movement working on “Love Death and Robots” and Gendy Tartakovsky’s “Primal.”

Also sparking good word of mouth was “Ewilan’s Quest,” another book adaptation – as they build as a trend – of Pierre Bottero’s fantastically successful “La Quête d’Ewilan,” which has sold more than 2 million copies in France. The producer is Andarta, a newly minted but highly interesting company.

The anniversary edition also saw a larger female presence among pitchers; producers paring formats towards ever-shorter episodes; genre blending and book adaptations; a sense of an oder generation which is passing the torch to younger counterparts.  The jury is still out as to whether, with Netflix is making a move towards children’s and pre-school animation, whether the window of opportunity for more adult-audience targeting animation will now close. Equally, the intervention of Creative Europe-Media Program in the sector still remains to be  clarified.

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