Preschool fare and short-form docs ruled the roost at this year’s MIFA TV pitch session, with more than half the projects boasting episodes running under eight minutes in length, and nearly just as many titles aimed at the under-five crowd.
Of the nine projects pitched, the preschool series “Yukon: The Space Botanist” (pictured) received the most vocal reception, drawing hearty laughs from a room full of buyers and commissioning editors at least three decades older than the show’s intended audience. Produced by Norway’s Imaginær Film, the 3D animated series gives computer graphics a tactile polish, featuring characters surfaced to resemble plastic figurines and background full of physical elements scanned in.
Described as “three good friends floating around in their own corner of the universe,” the show follows Yukon, a human botanist travelling the galaxy to collect rare seeds; Stretch, a fast-talking earthworm turned problem solver; and Bo, a living, breathing planet upon which the other two reside. Employing a playful sense of humor reminiscent of Douglas Adams, the project has clear commercial appeal.
On the artistic side, the MIFA pitch prizes amplified both the doc and preschool trends, with two of the four TV pitch prizes going to short-form docs “Jupiter’s Cogitations” from director Moumouni ‘Jupiter’ Sodré, and “Grandpa and Grandma’s Revolution,” from Agnès Patron and Sophie Nivelle-Cardinale. The preschool special “Polo sans bobo” and the queer rom-com “My Superhero Husband” claimed the other two prizes.
As a war correspondent covering the Middle East, journalist Sophie Nivelle-Cardinale spent the better part of a decade collecting unbelievable stories from the most unexpected of sources. And so “Grandpa and Granny’s Revolution” will explore the intimate and human scale stories of an elder generation inflamed by conflict and cooled by the passage of time. Animator Agnès Patron devised a chalky, watercolor look for the project, which looks to isolate and enshrine personal experience within political unrest.
In his 2012 short “Pondering,” sound engineer ‘Jupiter’ Sodré set interviews recorded on the streets of Ouagadougou against a paired-down, hand-drawn 2D style; the filmmaker will build on that approach for “Cogitations,” a short-form series tackling contemporary concerns through a Burkinabe lens. The fact that visa issues prevented the filmmaker from appearing in person only speaks the appeal of this project, which will employ unobtrusive and sketch-like visuals to spotlight perspectives all too often kept obscure.
Mixing 2D and 3D graphics and with a design reminiscent of classic children’s books, the upper preschool special “Polo sans bobo” explores the difficult topic of childhood illness through an animal world populated by rhinos, raccoons, pandas and giraffes. Director Sophie Castaignede likened the 26-minute special’s tone to that of Claude Barras’ “My Life as a Zucchini,” as it confronts an upsetting subject with tenderness and whimsy.
Winner of the Disney Plus pitch prize, “My Superhero Husband” is an LGBT-inclusive 2D comedy about a married pair of superheroes with two very different personalities. While transman Cynthis prefers to keep a low profile, happy to curl up with a good book once he’s done saving the day, his husband Joule basks in the spotlight, doubling as a product pitch man with his face and photo plastered on billboards all over town. The advertising focus could lend itself to real-world brand partnerships and cross-promotional opportunities, producer G. Beaudin said in Annecy. With production overseen by Greece’s AddArt, the project would also benefit from the country’s 40% tax rebate.