French public broadcaster France Televisions confirmed its status as one of Europe’s biggest financiers of animation during the Annecy Festival where it unveiled its wide-ranging slate during a press conference.
In 2020, which was marked by the pandemic and two lockdowns, the broadcaster invested €32 million ($38.4 million) in the production of French animated content, €2.3 million ($2.8 million) of which went into films. As much as 7,296 hours of animated content, 70% of which were original French productions, aired throughout the year.
France 4, the group’s channel which is dedicated to kids content, also saw its market share rise in 2020, with a peak of 24.5% of children under 15 in the afternoons, according to France Televisions.
Under the direction of long-time France Televisions executive Pierre Siracusa, France Televisions’ animation unit has been thriving with innovative shows that entertain children.and enlighten them in different ways.
The key titles on the broadcaster’s current development slate include “The Weasy Family,” a series produced by Hari Productions; “Once upon a time… Objects,” a new spinoff of the animated series franchise produced by Procidis and Samka; “Operation Medinah,” a serialized show set against the backdrop of the Algerian War; and “Mr. Crocodile,” directed by Joann Sfar (“The Rabbi’s Cat”).
“Mr. Crocodile” is produced by Sfar’s banner Magical Society, which is part of Mediawan-owned ON Kids & Family. The preschool series, set in a city that is collapsing back into nature, follows an eight-year-old girl, Daisy. She bumps into a talking crocodile called Croc, who desperately wants someone to explain this city and its civilized ways to him.
The Weasy Family, another pre-school show, follows an opportunistic and crooked weasel who unexpectedly finds itself having to watch over a pair of newborn twin ducks who see it as their father.
“Operation Medinah,” meanwhile, addresses children who are slightly older and was created by Alice Carré and the popular novelist Alice Zeniter (“L’art de perdre”). Produced by Darjeeling, the series is set in Algiers in 1955, right when the war – known as the Algerian War for Independence from France — reached the city. The show revolves around a group of children, Lyes, Ahmed, Philippe and Khadidja, aged 10-12, who will do everything they can to help one other as they witness confrontations with police and arrests.
“Once upon a Time… Objects” follows Maestro, the bearded protagonist of the educational franchise which dates back to the late 1970’s. Having previously explored the human body, among other topics, this new series has Maestro teach kids about the meaning, history, science and design of objects, ranging from a bicycle to a pair of eyeglasses.
Aside from TV series, France Televisions has also come on board to acquire, co-produce or co-finance several prestige animated movies, notably WWII-set “The Most Precious of Cargoes,” from Michel Hazanavicius (“The Artist”); “Princess Dragon,” directed by Jean-Jacques Denis and Anthony Roux, from Ankama Production; and Ari Folman’s (“Waltz With Bashir”) “Anne Frank’s Diary,” which will have its world premiere at the Cannes Festival.