Returning to an on-site edition, Cartoon Springboard, an animation pitching get-together for on-the-rise European animators, ran Oct. 26-28 in Valencia, with 174 participants taking part.

Buzz projects included an LGBT roller derby story, “Riot5,” as well as a film, “The Mission,” imagining all of the world’s money being destroyed, and “Exit Tales,” an animated short about children fleeing their home countries.

Altogether, 24 projects were pitched from 39 animation schools, including 17 TV shows, and five features.

The animated TV series “Riot5,” from Denmark’s Violeta Fellay, an alum of The Animation Workshop/VIA University College, draws upon her experience as a queer woman. Seeking to depict a wider range of female characters than the norm, the story for the young adult TV series follows an all-female roller derby team caught up with different issues in their lives, between practicing sport.

“The Mission” also caught attention. Set in 2023, this Belgian project from the La Cambre school is by Elsa Stoeffler and Martyna Žalalytė.

The young adult series revolves around a leftist group that carries out an attack threatens to delete all of the world’s money.

Directed by Mariana Cadenas from the LUCA School of Arts in Belgium, “Exit Tales” is an animated short series looking at five children fleeing their homes in Venezuela, Afghanistan, Syria, Guatemala and South Sudan.

“This project is not only about visibility and awareness of forced displacement, but also about misconceptions relating to migration and misrepresentation of vulnerability, including my own experience in Europe,” said Cadenas.

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Riot5 Courtesy of Cartoon Springboard

Other notable projects included:

*French feature “Am’rote,” from Claire Matz at Paris’ prestigious Gobelins school, the story of an exiled man who has to adapt to a society which he did not know existed;

*“Just Like a Last Summer Day,” about friendship and separation, from France’s Mina Convers; Germany’s “My Name is …” from Eliza Plocieniak-Alvarez at Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg (DE), a pre-school TV series about emotions;

*“Kira & Prokki” by Cedric Engels & Manuel Zilleken at Germany’s  Internationale Filmschule Koeln, set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have become extinct and two cockroaches are figuring out life;

*“The Sleeping Beauty Chronicles” from Mexico’s Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica, Adrian Ollé-Laprune’s dark retelling of “Sleeping Beauty.”

Across the projects presented, popular topics included self care, adventure, magic and history. As well as traditional 2D & 3D CGI, organizers also reported a frequent mix of 3D backgrounds with 2D characters, painting, stop-motion and cut-out animation.

Experts giving advice at the pitching sessions included Eleanor Coleman of  Blue Spirit Productions, BBC Children’s Sarah Muller, Anttu Harlin at Gigglebug Entertainment, Manuel Cristóbal at the Madrid region’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Daniel Bays of Cake Entertainment.

Cartoon 360 runs Nov. 16-18 in Lille, Cartoon Business unspools Dec. 8-10 in Gran Canaria, Spain.

Attendance was up 7% on the 2019 edition with delegates hailing from seven countries.

“After the 2020 edition online, we were happy to be back to Valencia, to the welcoming Universitat Politecnica. Seeing all the smiles (despite the face masks), hearing the laughs, and feeling the emotion going through the room was a real pleasure,” the organizers said in a statement.

They added: “We feel honored to have witnessed so many brilliant pitches, to have met so many enthusiastic young talents, and to have enjoyed so many cheerful and also challenging feedbacks from the experts. The projects that were showcased at Cartoon Springboard this year deserve all to be one day on our screens.”

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Carmilla – The Animation Courtesy of Cartoon Springboard