Report on Cartoon Forum 2016

NEW SERIES FOR NEW CHALLENGES

27 years since its inception, Cartoon Forum has, once again, demonstrated its capacity for growth and reinvention without losing sight of its founding objective: promoting the co-production and distribution of European animated series.

In this newest edition, it became clear that the European animation industry faces a number of challenges, as the arrival of new global players shaking up the sector’s current business models. However, this signature appointment for the animation industry provided clear evidence that European animation production continues to grow both inside Europe and beyond its borders, buttressed by the continent’s creative talent, the skill and efficiency of its production companies, and the unshakeable commitment of public and private broadcasters to distribute quality content.

For a fifth consecutive year, Toulouse’s Ville Rose welcomed the participants to Cartoon Forum, the premiere co-production platform for European animation series. After a welcoming dinner, Carole Delga, President of the Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region, and Marc Vandeweyer, General Director of CARTOON, officially opened the event on Wednesday the 14th. Jean-Luc Moudenc, Mayor of Toulouse and President of the Toulouse Métropole, also welcomed forum attendants through a video statement, and Geraldine Byrne Nason, Ambassador of Ireland to France, expressed her gratitude for the forum’s spotlight on her country’s animation.

The more than 950 guests at the forum -- including 260 industry buyers -- had the opportunity to discover 80 new animated series projects from 22 countries. Three intensive days of presentations and networking opportunities demonstrated the vibrant state of European animation, reaffirming its place as a leader in the area. With a global budget of 300 million Euros, the selected projects represent 480 new hours of animation.

TENDENCIES AND TOP 10

French animation remains unstoppable and has established once again its status as the leading genre of French audiovisual programmes sold abroad and one of the leading providers of content on the continent. French productions not only made up 32% of the event’s line-up with 26 projects on display, but also accounted for seven of the ten series that attracted the most attention at the event. Noteworthy, French projects included work from established production companies such as Millimages (“Kung Fu Brothers”), Les Armateurs (“RUNES”), Xilam Animation (“Mr. Magoo”), and Cyber Group Studios (“Enchanted Sisters”), as well as submissions from newer players like Xbo films (“ZOOBOX”), Tant Mieux Prod (“Toby Alone”), and Pixies Cinema (“Love, Passion and a Pontiac Bonneville”).

The Top 10 also included productions from Ireland, “Snoozeville” (JAM Media) and “Creepers” (Giant Animation), and the Spanish entry “The Wind-Ups” (Leonstudio). Animation for children between the ages of six and eleven continues to make up the bulk of submissions, representing nearly 60% of selected projects, followed by projects for pre-schoolers (26%). While animation for adults continues to grow (10%), the niche faces challenges finding new outlets for distribution beyond linear TV.

Regarding tendencies, 2D animation continues to be the dominant technique, making up 56% of content, roughly the same percentage of content designed for other media platforms such as Internet, mobile, tablets, and video games.

THE FORUM GOES GREEN

Celebrating Cartoon Forum’s first country spotlight, this year’s edition featured a special focus on Irish animation, with eight projects and a delegation made up of producers, broadcasters, investors, students and journalists. Through special activities -- such as the showing, during the Croissant & Coffee Shows, of videos from production companies under the umbrella of Animation Ireland, the trade association representing the country’s leading animation companies -- this special segment paid tribute to the fruitful relationship between Irish animation and Cartoon Forum. Over the last three decades, some of the Emerald Island’s most popular animated series were screened at Cartoon Forum. The Irish animation industry has experienced substantial growth over the past five years (from 6 studios to 20 current members), emerging as a central component of Ireland’s digital and creative economy.

Animation from the UK, Belgium, and Germany also displayed high-quality productions, with several projects among buyers’ favourites, including several VoD platforms. The animation for children projects “The Three Little Super Pigs” by Fourth Wall Creative and “The Day Trippers” by Baby Cow Animation, together with the pre-school series “Boogaloo and Graham” by Sixteen South, garnered high praise for the British delegation. For Belgium, two pre-school-targeted projects (“Sir Mouse” from Fabrique Fantastique and “BaDaBoo” by Creative Conspiracy), and the black-and-white series for young adults, “Macadam Valley” (Narrativ Nation), also draw critical attention. Germany also attracted investor attention with “Mouse Mansion”-- a series for pre-schoolers developed by Zooper Film - and “The Muscleteers”, a 3D series by Caligari Film & Fernsehproduktion.

Studios from the recently-formed Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region also earned a distinguished place at the forum, with their creativity on full display in two projects for preschool audiences: “ZOOBOX” (Xbo films) and “Sing and Dance with the Pops” (e-magine).

The consolidation of animation production in new European countries was noteworthy at this year’s Forum, with 12 projects hailing from Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Beyond the European Union’s borders, the Forum screened, for the first time, a project from Macedonia and four projects from the CARTOON CONNECTION exchange program, now celebrating annual editions in South Korea and Canada.

NEW PLAYERS, NEW TALENTS

A new generation of animation studios is emerging across Europe and several of these new production companies were in attendance at Toulouse to show their first projects. Among them, "Planet Z" (Pyjama Films, Finland), "The Wind-Ups" (Leonstudio, Spain), and "The Piracy of Princess Priceless" (Adriatic Animation, Croatia) emerged from Cartoon Springboard -- a pitching event for young talents in European animation schools organised by CARTOON. All three were well-received by professionals at the Forum.

In addition, marking yet another first, a delegation of licensing companies organized through the support of Brands Media attended this year’s Cartoon Forum. Delegates from CPLG Southern Europe, Ferrero Digital and De Agostini Publishing, all agreed on the outstanding production value of Forum projects and the potential for certain submissions to obtain funding from sources beyond traditional animation funding.

This edition of Cartoon Forum took participants outside the three pitching rooms in Toulouse’s Centre de Congrès Pierre Baudis. After each of the 80 presentations -- two of them collective --, industry professionals were invited to a personal dialogue with producers in the Extra Time Corner, where they could ask detailed questions about projects and explore possibilities for collaboration.

Lastly, the event provided a framework for other meeting and networking opportunities, such as the German-European Alliances in Animation, with a focus on Ireland and the UK, the Coaching Programme, an educational program for students from the Toulouse region who were joined this year by a delegation of Irish students, and "Les Toons débarquent!", an initiative to promote cartoons in Toulouse and in the region with screenings and the participation of directors Jan Bultheel, Jean-François Laguionie and Mark Burton.

A TIME FOR TRIBUTES

The stunning Saint-Pierre-des-Cuisines Auditorium provided the setting for a new instalment of the Cartoon d’Or – the only pan-European prize awarded specifically to animated films - and the Cartoon Tributes, where Forum participants designated a Broadcaster, Investor/Distributor and Producer of the Year.

2016 Cartoon d'Or has been awarded to “Yúl and the Snake” first short film of French director Gabriel Harel. The award ceremony was celebrated on Thursday 15 September in the Auditorium Saint-Pierre des Cuisines of Toulouse and the jury was composed of producer Clément Calvet (Superprod, France), director Mark Burton (Aardman Animations, United Kingdom), and director Alessandro Rak (MAD Entertainment, Italy). Produced by Kazak Productions, this 2D animation film combines drama with fantastic elements and was inspired by the director’s childhood in the Southern Alps region. The other finalists were: “Alike” by Daniel Martínez Lara & Rafa Cano Méndez (Spain), “Machine” by Sunit Parekh (Denmark), “Peripheria” by David Coquard-Dassault (France) and “Under your fingers” by Marie-Christine Courtès (France). Harel will receive a 10,000 EUR grant, thanks to the support of Creative Europe-MEDIA.

Meanwhile the winners of Cartoon Tributes were

  • Broadcaster of the Year: M6 MÉTROPOLE TÉLÉVISION / M6 KID (France) 
  • Investor/Distributor of the Year: CAKE ENTERTAINMENT (United Kingdom) 
  • Producer of the Year: AUTOUR DE MINUIT (France) 

Fittingly, this year’s honouree country was also the grand protagonist of the Farewell Dinner, which included music by a Irish folk-band, a whisky tasting, and the now traditional karaoke event for Forum organizers and participants to say their goodbyes until 2017.

The main partners of Cartoon Forum 2016 were Creative Europe - MEDIA, CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée), Occitanie/Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region, Mairie de Toulouse, Toulouse Métropole, Casino Barrière and France Télévisions.

The next edition of the event will take place from 12-15 September 2017.