Report 2023

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Cartoon Movie celebrated its 25th anniversary in the French city of Bordeaux with the latest batch of European feature-length animated films. Fifty-eight projects at different stages of production hailing from 16 European countries were pitched to 877 industry professionals - a third of whom were buyers - with the aim of accelerating their production. Always committed to the changes taking place in our society - as reflected in the richness and diversity of the selection -, European animation production continue to thrive.

The event kicked-off on 8 March with welcoming words from Annick Maes, General Director of Cartoon, who highlighted that since its launch in 1999, Cartoon Movie has helped 447 European animated films complete their financing, amounting to a total budget of 2.92 million euros. These have been “25 years of opening minds and promoting cultural diversity through animated films”, she said.

In her assessment, Maes said that Cartoon Movie’s achievements speak for themselves: in 1999, animation films would rarely be distributed outside of their own borders. In 2023, almost 70% of the projects are distributed in more than 3 countries, and close to 40% are distributed in more than 10 countries.

Regarding co-production, she explained it has become a key element in the financing of European animation, something that in 1999 seemed a real challenge. Today 55.7% of 447 films that completed their financing thanks to Cartoon Movie are co-productions involving at least two European countries.

In a virtual presentation, the President of the Région Nouvelle-Aquitaine, Alain Rousset, greeted the participants, and explained the highlights of this region, known as the “Cartoon Valley” after turning into the second-largest animation production hub in France.

Frédéric Cros, director of Pôle Image Magelis, underlined the importance of this achievement and added that, with some 35 animation studios and 15 higher education institutes, this hub for the image industry occupies a prime position in France and Europe. Pôle Image Magelis is based in Angoulême, in the Charente Department, where a successful public policy has created a stimulating environment for animation.

Baptiste Maurin, Metropolitan Councillor for Research, Higher Education and Student Life in Bordeaux Metropole highlighted Cartoon Movie’s pivotal importance as a cross-fertilization space between increasingly intertwined disciplines, including renowned animation studios and video games companies.

Reinforcing the bond that unites all members of the animation family and hoping for a better future, the opening ceremony came to an end with the presentation of the spotlighted country at the event, Ukraine. On behalf of the Ukrainian delegation, Director of LINOLEUM Contemporary Animation and Media Art Festival Anastasiya Verlinska thanked for the support shown to her country over the last year and highlighted the role of Cartoon Movie in the development of Ukrainian films such as “Mavka. The Forest Song”, which has acquired in more than 80 countries the distribution rights after having been presented at the 2017 edition of the event as an in-concept project.

18% of the 281 buyers present at this year's Cartoon Movie - including delegates from international sales agencies, distributors, TV channels, financing funds, and streaming platforms from 35 countries - were attending the event for the first time, reflecting the increasing interest in European animation.

Growing throughout Europe

Hailing from 16 countries, the 58 selected projects add up to an overall duration of 81 hours and a total budget of 422.4 Mio euros, while the average cost per film stands at 7.3 Mio euros. Twenty of the projects are co-productions among two or more European countries, and 6 are co-productions involving non-UE countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Israel, Tunisia, and UK.

Regarding gender distribution, 62% of the selected projects are led by men, 17% by women, and 14% are co-directed by a female-male team.

With 25 projects, France leads the line-up, followed by Germany with 8 projects, Spain and Italy with 5 projects each, Belgium with 3, and Denmark with 2.

*CEE Countries = Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia / **Nordic Countries = Denmark, Finland, Norway

Armenia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine round up the list with one project each, showing that animation production continue to gain momentum throughout Europe, including the smaller territories.

The selection mirrors the diverse range of themes, target audiences, and graphic styles in current European animation industry. Adventure and comedy films prevail in terms of genre, in a selection that also included fantasy films, dramas, musicals, and documentaries. With 15 projects based on adaptations of books and comics, literature remains a major source of inspiration for animated feature films.

As reflected in the line-up, animation continues to capture the changes in our society and does not shy away from difficult stories. Themes range from environmental and sustainability concerns to social issues, including sensitive topics such as inclusion, diversity, migration, political, and gender issues.

Though at a slow pace, female heroines continue to gain ground in European animation with a 17% of the presented projects featuring a woman as main character.

Audience-wise, family films remain at the top with a solid 59% of the selection and 34 projects. Films aimed at Young Adults/Adults come in second with 13 projects. Finally, the selection features 10 projects for Children and 1 for Pre-school audiences.

Regarding animation techniques, 3D films come at the top spot with 28 projects (44.8%), followed by 2D films (27.5%), while projects combing both techniques reach the 22.4%.

Films that make waves

As well as acting as a springboard for in-concept, in-development or in-production projects, Cartoon Movie played host to the sneak preview of 8 films to be released over the coming months, including “Bim” by Tom Van Gestel (Belgium), “Chicken for Linda!” by Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach (France), “Dragonkeeper” by Salvador Simó & Li Jiangping (Spain), “Four Souls of Coyote” by Áron Gauder (Hungary), “Mars Express” by Jérémie Périn (France), “Richard the Stork 2” by Mette Tange & Benjamin Quabeck (Germany), “Rosa and the Stone Troll” by Karla Nor Holmbäck (Denmark), and “The Inseparables” by Jérémie Degruson (Belgium).

With 12 countries involved in the 10 projects which received the most attention from the buyers*, animation production is thriving throughout Europe. Produced by France’s Foliascope and directed by Michaël Crouzat, “Back to Tomioka” tops the list with a strong antinuclear message. Co-produced between five countries led by Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, “Julián” - a child who develops gender awareness - comes in next followed by “Ninn”, an adaptation of the popular series of graphic novels produced by Paris-based TeamTO.

The list goes on with “Yap Yap - The Secret Forest”, a co-production between Denmark and Sweden directed by Jens Møller; France’s “Merry Christmas Monsieur Hulot”, based on the popular character created by Jacques Tati; and Germany’s “Moses the Pirate”, a 3D animated film directed by Florian Westermann (“The Amazing Maurice”).

Rounding off the top-10 are France’s family film “The Hermit and the Bear”, written and directed by Marine Blin; “Fox and Hare Save the Forest”, a co-production between Netherlands, Luxembourg, and Belgium directed by Mascha Halberstad, and based on the eponymous books by Sylvia Vanden Heede; “I'm Still Alive”, a production between Italy, Israel, and Belgium in which writer Roberto Saviano tells the story of his life since being forced to live with police protection following the launch of his book “Gomorrah”; and the adventure film “The Horn Quartet Goes to Bollywood”, a co-production between France and Belgium.

Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, host to the event, participated with 9 projects, 7 of which have been supported by the Region: “Alpha Two’s Dreamed Journey”, director to be confirmed (produced by Olé Film- und Fernsehproduktion - DE, co-produced by Godo Films - FR). “Beausoleil” by Xabi Molia & Fanou Lefebvre (produced by Moteur S’il Vous Plaît), “Chicken for Linda!” by Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach (produced by Dolce Vita Film), “Happy End” by Marie Amachoukeli & Vladimir Mavounia-Kouka (produced by Miyu Productions), “Jim Queen” by Marco Nguyen & Nicolas Athané (produced by Bobbypills), “Mars Express” by Jérémie Périn (produced by Everybody On Deck), and “The Hermit and the Bear” by Marine Blin (produced by Tant Mieux Prod). “Beausoleil” and “Mars Express” are also supported by the Charente Department.

Bordeaux Métropole and the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region are also represented through local animation studios involved in the following projects: “Betty’s Dream” produced by Sun Creature France; “Long Time a Girl: An Endless City Adventure” produced by Umanimation; and “The Hermit and the Bear” produced by Tant Mieux Prod & co-produced by Sun Creature France.

Thinking About the Future

Cartoon Movie has established itself as a platform that looks to the future of European animation, a space where renowned directors and producers share stage with the talents of tomorrow.

The active role of Cartoon in the development of European animation is apparent from the following figures: 6 of the projects selected this year have previously participated in Cartoon Movie in the concept or development stages, while 2 others - “Otis” & “The Precious Gift” - were pitched at Cartoon Springboard, an event focused on young talents and graduates.

The professionals at the event also had the opportunity to participate in Animation & Transmedia, an activity aimed to create synergies between the animation, video games & transmedia industries.

The programme included the keynotes "Emotional Game Design: bringing emotions to videogames” by Marina Díez; "UI/UX: how empathy is included into video games production" by Sandrine Dubois; and "IP development: from comics to other platforms” by Olivier Jalabert (Dupuis - Média Participations).

One-to-one meetings were also organised to encourage producers to bring game developers and transmedia partners together at earlier stages of the projects.

A new edition of Cartoon Movie’s Coaching Programme was also held with the attendance of some 70 students from animation schools of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Region, including 3iS Bordeaux, École de Condé Bordeaux (EDC), École Émile Cohl, ECV Bordeaux, École des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation (EMCA), École Brassart Bordeaux, L’Atelier, MJM Graphic Design, and Ynov Campus.

The students had the opportunity to discover how to pitch a project and to get insights from the industry with a masterclass by Hugo de Faucompret, presenting his new project at Cartoon Movie “Round and Round the Wishing Well” (Laïdak Films – FR) and to discover the Region’s culture agency ALCA (Agence Livre Cinéma & Audiovisuel en Nouvelle-Aquitaine) and its support schemes with a presentation by Ingrid Florin Muller.

Spotlight on Ukraine

This year, Cartoon Movie spotlighted Ukrainian animation, thus paying tribute to all the artists, creators, and producers in this country who are now living and working against all odds to protect their lives, their art, and their industry. With a long animation history going back almost a century, a delegation of 23 Ukrainian professionals and young talents was able to join Cartoon Movie to present their new projects to international partners and co-producers.

For the third time in the history of Cartoon Movie, a Ukrainian project has made it into the line-up: “Roxelana” by Oleg Malamuzh, a 3D animated film for family audiences produced by Animagrad Studio - FILM.UA Group. Cartoon Movie's Spotlight took place one week after the national premiere of “Mavka. The Forest Song”, film that set box-office records with its opening with close to 779 798 admissions in Ukraine.

Awards & Recognitions

Voted by their fellow European animation professionals, the winners for the Cartoon Tributes Producer of the Year, Director, and Distributor/Sales Agent were announced during the event.

The producers of “No Dogs or Italians Allowed” – a co-production between five European countries - were singled out as Producer of the Year. Directed by Alain Ughetto, this stop-motion film is a co-production between France's Les Films du Tambour de Soie, Vivement Lundi !, and Foliascope together with Italy's Graffiti Film, Switzerland's Nadasdy Film, Portugal's Ocidental Filmes, and Belgium's Lux Fugit Film.

Dutch filmmaker and illustrator Mascha Halberstad was recognised as Director of the Year for her first feature film “OINK”, premiered at the Berlinale in 2022 as Opening Film of the Generation K+ section. Halberstad presented her next film at Cartoon Movie: “Fox and Hare Save the Forest”.

Finally, KMBO was elected Distributor of the Year, a Paris-based distribution company created in 2007 whose catalogue combines auteur and commercial animated films.

Cartoon Movie and Eurimages, the cultural fund of the Council of Europe, also announced the winner of the Eurimages Co-production Development Award: “I’m Still Alive”, directed by Roberto Saviano and produced by MAD Entertainment (Italy), Lucky Red (Italy), SIPUR (Israel) & Gapbusters (Belgium).

With a cash-prize of 20,000 euros, this award has been created to promote the Fund’s role in encouraging international co-production from the initial stages of a project. Cartoon Movie is one of the 7 co-production markets in which this award is granted. Made up of Simon Crowe (SC Films International – United Kingdom), Elena Kotova (Eurimages – Czech Republic) and Pierre Mazars (Charades – France)-, the jury highlighted the bold creativity and bravery of this project.

The next edition of Cartoon Movie will take place from 5 to 7 March 2024.

Only projects in Development & in Production – The order reflects the number of buyers present in the pitching room

1. Back to Tomioka (France)
2. Julián (Ireland / Denmark / France / Canada / United Kingdom)
3. Ninn (France)
3. Yap Yap - The Secret Forest (Denmark / Sweden)
4. Merry Christmas Monsieur Hulot (France)
4. Moses the Pirate (Germany)
5. The Hermit and the Bear (France)
6. Fox and Hare Save the Forest (Netherlands / Luxembourg / Belgium)
7. I'm Still Alive (Italy / Israel / Belgium)
8. The Horn Quartet Goes to Bollywood (France / Belgium)
9. Birds Don't Look Back (France / Luxembourg / Poland)
10. The Precious Gift (Czech Republic / France)
10. Clarissa (Germany)