CARTOON FORUM REPORT 2020

A GREAT MOMENTUM OF CREATIVITY
FOR A HIGH-QUALITY HARVEST

Cartoon Forum has successfully closed its 31st edition, which was held exclusively online due to the coronavirus pandemic. From 14 to 17 September, the co-production forum for European animation series reflected the liveliness of a sector that did not come to a halt in spite of these exceptional circumstances, and that has grown into one of the most thriving sectors in the European audiovisual sector. With a line-up of 80 animated series projects from 22 European countries, the Forum brought together nearly 850 participants from 486 companies, including 265 buyers. The pre-recorded presentations got more than 11,604 views, confirming the success of Cartoon Forum’s formula regardless of the format in which it is held.

STEPPING UP TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

Running under the motto "Business First", Cartoon Forum first online edition took advantage of the virtual stage to promote the new projects. The event, which was to be held for the ninth consecutive year in the French city of Toulouse, had to adapt to the new normality in less than two weeks by developing a digital platform to host its traditional pitching sessions. The producers not only rose to the challenge, but also saw in the pre-recorded presentations an opportunity to show their studios and their projects under a different light. The mobile application developed by CARTOON provided detailed information on each series and a direct contact with their producers. That, together with the e-catalogue, were key in the migration to the online event.

A SNAPSHOT OF EUROPEAN ANIMATION

Cartoon Forum’s line-up offered a comprehensive overview of European animation, which is currently dominated by series aimed at 6-11-year-old children, produced in 2D animation and with 6-12 minutes episodes. Twenty-two European countries were involved in the projects, while another 6 countries outside the region participated as co-producers.

France led the line-up with 31 projects, followed by Ireland (8), Denmark (6), and Spain (6), while Belgium, Finland, Germany, Italy, and UK participated with 3 projects each. Led by Denmark, the Nordic countries presence amounted to 11 projects, while 7 other projects hailed from CEE countries, showing a growing trend in the number of projects from these geographic regions.

With an average cost of 4.1 million Euros per series, the 80 projects amounted to a total budget of 327 million Euros and 445 hours of new content.

Animation aimed at 6-11 children continued to lead the Forum’s line-up with 31 projects (39%), closely followed by the series for pre-schoolers, which already account for the 35% (28). Meanwhile, the number of projects aimed at Family Audiences (10), Young-Adults (8) and Teenagers (3) remained stable.

Technical-wise, 67% of the projects relied on 2D animation and 20% on 3D CGI.

NEW BORDERS

The new generation of European series caught the attention of nearly 265 decision makers from a record 43 countries, including acquisition managers, and programming directors of public and private television channels, streaming platforms, distributors, and investors. The list of pubcasters included companies such as France Télévisions, ZDF, RAI, RTVE, BBC, VRT-Ketnet, YLE, RTÉ, NRK and TVP, among others. Cartoon Forum also called together delegates from private channels, pay TV channels and streaming platforms such as Netflix, Sony Networks, The Walt Disney Company, Super RTL, Nickelodeon, CANAL+, Benshi, ITV, TF1 and Turner. On the other hand, the virtual nature of the event made it possible to include a large delegation of non-European companies, such as Disney Junior, Mattel TV, Discovery Kids, HBO Max and Adult Swim (USA), Globosat (Brazil), Pakapaka Channel (Argentina), and ABC (Australia), among others.

TOP 10 PROJECTS AND NEW TALENTS

As in previous years, CARTOON put out the list of projects that attracted the most interest, in which comedies aimed at children between 6-11 years old prevailed. Based on the number of views of each presentation on the digital platform between 15 September and 15 October, the top 10 list counted 12 projects as 2 projects were twice a tie, sharing the 4th and 5th places. 

The 12-project list features Goat Girl a quirky comedy starring a 13-year-old girl raised by mountain goats (Daily Madness Productions, Ireland); the adventure comedies Monster in My Pocket (Cyber Group Studios, France), the high-concept mini-series The Upside Down River (Dandelooo, France) and the uplifting Gemma & the Defenders (Xilam Animation, France).

Among the most viewed projects are also France’s Tiny Island (TeamTO), Ireland’s Hanna & Nana (JAM Media), Germany’s Hey Fuzzy Yellow (Toon2Tango), and United Kingdom's Chaos Castle (Oddbod Creations) all four aimed at pre-schoolers.

France’s Alex Player, a series set in the world of e-sports produced by Bee Prod, Wonder Waï (Ellipsanime Productions), PriZOOners (Tchack) and Rowbot aka Atla5 (Dwarf entertainment) also made it into the top 10.

New talent represented by producers and directors working on their first projects always has a special place in Cartoon Forum. The following projects were included in the line-up after their participation in Cartoon Springboard: Baldies (Cofilm, Czech Rep.), The Very Hairy Alphabet (Eagle Eye, Germany), Blue Figures (Disnosc, France), Hanna & Nana (JAM Media, Ireland), and Felix! He Can Explain Everything (Sacrebleu Production, France).

The Occitanie / Pyrénées-Mediterranée Region with participated with three projects: Atla5, produced by Dwarf Ent. (Montpellier), Obo, My Very Spatial Friend, produced by Digiblur (Toulouse), and Immobile Stars, produced by Tripode Productions (Montclus).

CURRENT TRENDS

Books and comic books remain an important source of inspiration for European animation. Some twenty of the selected projects are adaptations of comic books and books, including the French series Open Bar (Les films du poisson rouge) and Zombillenium (Maybe Movies), based on the comic books by Fabcaro and Arthur de Pins; Finland's Belzebubs (Pyjama Films), based on the webcomic created by JP Ahonen; Netherlands' Princess Arabella (Phanta Animation), an adaptation of the picture book by Mylo Freeman; Romania’s Fram The Polar Bear (Deveo Media), The Possum that Didn’t (Gao Shan Pictures) and Two Little Birds (Autour de Minuit) (adaptations of novels and graphic humour books by Cezar Petrescu, Frank Tashlin and Dipacho, respectively.)

Women continue to gain ground with more and more female leading characters, and a growing number of women scriptwriters, directors and producers behind the projects. My Life in Versailles (Films Grand Huit, France), Daisy and Dot (KEDD Animation Studio, Hungary), Finula Gilhooley (Wiggleywoo, Ireland), Femmes and Fame (La Générale de Production, France), Women in War (Sparre Productions, Denmark), and Ling Ling (Futurum Kids, Ireland) are among the series with women –of all ages– occupying the starring roles.

Diversity is reflected in the series’ rich variety of target audiences. While projects for 6-9 children continue to prevail (39%), this year's line-up bears testimony to the importance of both pre-schoolers animation and the Young Adults/Adult audiences. Focused on ethics and values, and on stirring the imagination of the audiences of tomorrow, pre-schoolers’ series accounts for 35% of all projects. Flip’s Fantastic Journal (Pigeon, Poland), Foreverly Friends (Nice Ninja, Denmark), Little Fox (Wolkenlenker; Germany), Moo and Roo Take the World (Elk Studios, Ireland), Morningbird and Murmelton (Mikrofilm, Norway), Mouse Ketti (Radar, Luxembourg), Patouille (Miyu Productions, France), Pop Paper City (LoveLove Films, UK), Relè (Gertie, Italy), Taste Buddies (Pikkukala, Finland), and The Little Bird (VlinVlin, Belgium), are among the series aimed at the early childhood audience.

With titles such as Finding Home (Iliade et Films, France), Good Enough: Burnout Diary (Studio Pupil, Netherlands), Moles (Armenteira Producciones, Spain), RA TV Channel (Mosaica, Italy), and Roaches (StudioHue, Denmark) –together with the already mentioned Open Bar and Belzebubs–, adults' niche also continues to grow, while trying to find its space within the diverse content offerings.

Cartoon Forum’s line-up also featured a wide arrange of graphic styles, animation techniques, and formats, including mini-series y tv specials.

The wide range of topics addressed has become a distinctive feature of European animated series. This year's selection includes stories that reflect social and political issues such as the role played by women, immigration, global warming and labour relations; as well as projects tackling complex and sensitive issues such as cancer, grief, bullying, and disability issues. There are also documentary series or series based on biographies of prominent figures, showing that European animation has already crossed the boundaries of entertainment.

 

The 32nd Cartoon Forum will take place from 20 to 23 September 2021 in Toulouse.