‘The Island,’ ‘Calamity,’ ‘Piano Player’ Highlight Cartoon Movie 2020 Lineup (EXCLUSIVE)

BARCELONA – Rémi Chayé’s “Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” Anca Damian’s “The Island,” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal’s “They Shot the Piano Player,” and Enrique Gato’s “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy” are among the sixty-six projects from twenty countries to be pitched at the 22nd Cartoon Movie, Europe’s leading animated movie co-production event. Cartoon Movie will take place in the French port city of Bordeaux, kicking off March 3rd.

Projects will be accessible for buyers and potential partners and will be pitched in different stages of production: 28 in concept, 27 in development, six in production and five sneak previews. The five projects at the sneak preview showcase and the six in production have previously been to Cartoon Movie in preliminary production stages. Twenty-three projects are co-productions.

A family adventure, Rémi Chayé’s (acclaimed “Long Way North”) sophomore feature depicts the childhood of the legendary Calamity Jane. A female-driven story, as in “Long Way,” it kicks off when 12-year-old Martha Jane must take charge of her siblings after her father is hurt in a serious accident while driving a large convoy to the West in search of a better life. “Calamity” is a co-production from Denmark’s Nørlum and France’s Maybe Movies. International sales are handled by Paris-based Indie Sales (Academy Award nominated hit “My Life as a Zucchini”).

Popular on Variety

Another legendary figure, Robinson Crusoe, inspires “The Island,” directed by Romanian animator Anca Damian (“Marona’s Fantastic Tale”). As a voluntary castaway, Crusoe watches as his peaceful solitude on the Mediterranean Sea is disrupted by a steady flow of migrants and NGO guards. “The Island” is a young adult-oriented musical comedy. Its score is a version of Ada Milea and Alexander Balanescu’s musical album of the same title. Currently in production, “The Island” is produced by Romania’s Ap Arte Film and Belgium’s Take Five.

CREDIT: Cartoon Movie

In total, projects presented at Cartoon Movie account for a total of 93 hours of animation and a global investment of €458 million ($508 million). The average budget per film is set at €6.9 million ($7.7 million) with an average run time of 84 minutes per feature.

In line with last year’s stats, 55% of the selected projects are family-targeted, while 20% aimed at young adults or adults. Ten projects (15%) are kid oriented. Three features are targeted at teens with only two are geared toward preschoolers.

France has the most projects at this year’s Cartoon Movie edition with 23 and is also as the territory most proactive in co-productions (6). Belgium, Denmark and Poland follow France as countries most inclined to partner on co-productions.

Spain has the second-most projects with nine, up from last year’s four. Two key titles are “They Shot the Piano Player” and “Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy.”

A co-production between Spain’s Fernando Trueba Producciones Cinematográficas and U.K.’s Film Constellation, “They Shot the Piano Player” marks the second collaboration of director Fernando Trueba (“Belle epoque”) and artist and designer Javier Mariscal, the duo behind Oscar-nominated “Chico & Rita” (2012). “They Shot” is a Bossa Nova musical celebration which follows a New York music reporter— voiced by Jeff Goldblum— on a quest to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of a brilliant young Brazilian pianist.

“Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy” is the third installment of the Tad Jones animated saga, directed by Enrique Gato. A production between Lightbox Animation Studio, 4 Cats Pictures, Ikiru Films and Telecinco Cinema, the feature offers new adventures of the clumsy archeologist Tad, from Mexico to Chicago and Paris to Egypt, to end the curse of the Mummy.

Tad The Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy
CREDIT: Cartoon Movie

Some other Spanish projects are Annecy’s Audience award winner Fernando Cortizo’s “SHKID,” Jaime Maestro’s “D20” and María Trénor’s “Rock Bottom.” Four out of the nine Spanish projects are backed by production companies from Valencia, a region with a longstanding tradition in graphic arts. Valencia-born director Santiago López Jover’s “Hikari” is also in the project phase, to be produced in Australia, possibly marking a new boom in animation for the region.

Germany brings six projects including key titles “The Amazing Maurice” and “The Elfkins – Baking a Difference.” Denmark clocks in at five; Italy, the U.K. and the Netherlands at three; Belgium and Hungary at two; and Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Norway, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine, each bring one project.

In terms of animation techniques, 24 projects are made using 3D CG animation, followed by 2D at 20, 2D and 3D combo at 18, and four are being produced using other techniques.

Marking a tight bond between the animation sector and publishing, 23 feature projects (35% out of 66) are literary adaptations. Major titles include “The Hermit and the Bear,” “Verte,” “Girl and Wolf” and “Melville.”

Cartoon Movie is an annual forum organized by the Brussels-based European Association of Animation Film, along with animated TV series co-production mart Cartoon Forum, training program Cartoon Master and international co-production event Cartoon Connection.

It is supported by E.U.’s Creative Europe Media Program, France’s National Film Board (CNC), and diverse local institutions.

Last year 900 participants from 41 countries and 265 buyers– distributors and sales agents—attended the event.

Cartoon Movie runs March 3-5.

They Shot The Piano Player
CREDIT: Cartoon Movie



“Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary,” Rémi Chayé (France, Denmark)

“Ella Bella Bingo,” Frank Mosvold & Atle Blakseth (Norway)

“Raggie,” Meelis Arulepp & Karsten Kiilerich (Estonia, Denmark)

“The Crossing,” Florence Miailhe (France, Germany, Czech Republic)

“The Elfkins – Baking a Difference,” Ute von Münchow-Pohl (Germany)


“Cricket & Antoinette,” Luka Rukavina (Croatia)

“Even Mice Belong in Heaven,” Jan Bubeníček & Denisa Grimmová (Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, France)

“Ooops! The Adventure Continues…,” Sean McCormack & Toby Genkel (Germany, Luxembourg, Ireland)

“The Island,” Anca Damian (Romania, Belgium)

“The Neighbours of My Neighbours are Neighbours of Mine,” Léo Marchand & Anne-Laure Daffis (France)

“The Walking Liberty,” Alessandro Rak (Italy)


“Adam and the Magic Cloud Adam and the Magic Cloud,” Aissam Bourak & Florent Mounier (France)

“Best Birthday Ever,” Michael Ekblad (Germany, Sweden Netherlands)

“Detective Kibbles,” Benoit Delépine (France)

“Fleak,” (Finland, Malaysia Poland, France)

“Geno,” Dato Kiknavelidze (Georgia)

“Girl and Wolf,” Roc Espinet (Spain)

“I am Helena,” Karla von Bengtson (Denmark)

“Molesworth,” Uli Meyer (U.K., Luxembourg)

“Mu Yi,” Julien Chheng (France)

“#nofilter,” Tor Lubich Fruergaard & Michael Hegner (Denmark)

“Olivia and the Invisible Earthquake,” Irene Iborra Rizo (Spain)

“Panda Bear in Africa,” Karsten Kiilerich & Richard Claus (Netherlands, Denmark)

“Raven Girl,” Jericca Cleland (Denmark, Canada)

“Schubert’s Winterreise,” Alex Helfrecht (U.K., Poland, France, Germany)

“Sirocco and the Kingdom of the winds,” Benoît Chieux (France)

“Tad the Lost Explorer and the Curse of the Mummy,” Enrique Gato (Spain)

“The Adventures of Pil,” Julien Fournet (France)

“The Amazing Maurice,” Toby Genkel & Florian Westermann (Germany, Ireland)

“The Black Swallow,” Louis J Gore (France)

 “The Inventor,” Jim Capobianco (France, U.S.)

“The Last Whale Singer,” Reza Memari (Germany, Canada, Czech Republic)

“The Legendaries,” Guillaume Ivernel (France, Belgium)

“The Shrew of Destiny,” Marcin Wasilewski (Poland, Bulgaria)

“They Shot the Piano Player,” Fernando Trueba & Javier Mariscal (Spain, U.K., France)

“Trouble Nubble Gum,” Rostyslav Garbar (Ukraine)

“Twice Upon a Time,” Vojin Vasović (Serbia, Canada)

“Verte,” Hélène Friren (France)


“Autumn and the Mystery of Winter,” Niels Prayer (France)

“Copper Beak,” Adriano Candiago (Italy)

“D20,” Jaime Maestro (Spain)

“Diotime and the Lions,” Santi Minasi (France)

“Gemmy Brown and the Multiverse,” (France)

“Hikari,” Santiago López Jover (Austria)

“Juul,” Tom Van Gestel (Belgium)

“Lala – A Fairy’s Heart,” Attila Gigor (Hungary)

“Maryam and Varto,” Gorune Aprikian & Alexandre Héboyan (France)

“Melvile,” Romain Renard (Belgium, France)

“Merry Christmas Monsieur Hulot!,” Marc Rius (France)

“Nordic Ghost Hunters,” Magnus Møller & Mette Tange (Denmark, France)

“Planet of Kids,” Philip Einstein Lipski, Maria Biilmann & Jericca Cleland (Denmark)

“Rock Bottom,” Maria Trénor (Spain)

“Seekers,” (Netherlands)

“SHKID,” Fernando Cortizo (Spain, Mexico)

“Sierra Dragon,” Pepe Sánchez Alonso (Spain)

“Tafiti – Through the desert,” Julia Boehme & Nicholas Hause (Germany)

“Talent Scout The Hand That Feeds,” Jose Herrera & Manuel Sirgo (Spain)

“The Anooki, our Amazing Odyssey,” Moetu Batlle & David Passegand (France)

“The Character of Rain,” Liane-Cho Han (France)

“The GrowCoDile,” Joost van den Bosch & Erik Verkerk (Netherlands)

“The Hand That Feeds,” (Hungary)

“The Hermit and the Bear,” Marine Blin (France)

“The Horn Quartet: Go to the Sacred Cow Country,” Arnaud Demuynck & Benjamin Botella (France, Belgium)

“The Inexact Sciences,” Stefano Bessoni (Italy, France)

“The Legacy of the Depanurges,” Franck Dion (France)

“The Unspeakable, a Lovecraftian Fragment,” Gilles Cazaux (France)

More Film

  • PAW Patrol

    'PAW Patrol' Animated Movie in the Works

    PAW Patrol is on a roll! The popular Nickelodeon animated series is coming to the big screen. The Paramount film, directed by animation veteran Cal Brunker, whose credits include “Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature” and “Escape From Planet Earth,” hits theaters in August 2021. Spin Master Entertainment’s executive vice president Jennifer Dodge will produce [...]

  • Bruce Willis attends the "Motherless Brooklyn"

    Bruce Willis’ ‘Cosmic Sin’ Picked up by Saban for North America

    Saban Films has acquired North American rights to Bruce Willis-starring sci-fi-action project “Cosmic Sin.” One of the hottest projects being pitched at the Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, the picture is written and directed by Corey Large and Edward Drake (“Breach”) with Large also producing. “Cosmic Sin” follows a group of warriors and scientists [...]

  • 'Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns

    'Swimming Out Till the Sea Turns Blue': Film Review

    At a kitchen table where two younger women are industriously assembling dumplings, an elderly resident of Jia Family Village, a rural settlement in China’s Shanxi province, reflects on a colorful past. In the 1950s, he served as First Secretary of the Communist Youth League, playing his own part in the country’s social revolution and carousing [...]

  • Donna Rotunno Gloria Allred

    Donna Rotunno Complains to Judge About Gloria Allred Attacking Her in the Media

    Harvey Weinstein’s lead attorney Donna Rotunno asked the judge to silence Gloria Allred, the high-powered attorney who is representing three women who’ve testified in the New York rape trial. Before the jury entered the courtroom on Friday morning, the fourth day of deliberations, Rotunno made a complaint on the record to the judge regarding Allred’s [...]

  • Call of the Wild

    Box Office: 'Call of the Wild' Fetches $1 Million on Thursday Night

    Harrison Ford’s “The Call of the Wild” opened with $1 million in Thursday night previews. STX’s supernatural horror sequel “Brahms: The Boy II,” meanwhile, earned $375,000 at 1,800 screens from Thursday previews. The earnings for Disney-20th Century’s “The Call of the Wild” is in the same vicinity as “The Upside,” which took in $1.1 million [...]

  • Infinity Hill

    Viacom International Studios, Infinity Hill Sign Exclusive First Look Deal

    Viacom International Studios (VIS) has signed an exclusive first look development deal with Infinity Hill. The companies will co-develop and co-produce a slate of Spanish-language features, filmed globally and utilizing international talent on both sides of the camera. Infinity Hill is the new label from longtime Telefonica and Viacom exec Axel Kuschevatzky, one of the [...]

  • There Is No Evil

    German Regional Film Funder Boosts Budget, Targets Young Filmmakers

    Since taking the helm at German regional funder Filmförderung Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein (FFHSH) last year, Helge Albers has revamped the organization, worked to increase its budget by €3 million ($3.3 million) and introduced new initiatives aimed at young filmmakers. Albers, a former film producer who previously served as head of the German Producers Assn. and a [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content