Cartoon Movie, Europe’s Main Animated Movie Co-Production Forum, Selects ‘Sorya,’ ‘Starseed’ & ‘Caramel’s Words’

“Sorya,” “Starseed,” and “Caramel’s Words” are among 55 projects from 16 countries set to be pitched at this year’s Cartoon Movie, Europe’s leading animated feature co-production event.

The 23rd edition will move totally online, running March 9-11.

Part of an In Development showcase, “Sorya” is directed by Denis Do, an Annecy Fest best feature film winner for “Funan.” That debut depicted the brutality of Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge regime. In “Sorya,” in contrast, he takes a more intimate approach, following a Cambodian teen woman arriving in Phnom Penh to work in a textile factory, flirting with dreams of becoming a singer, flirting with singing stardom and finally trying to find some stability in her life. Special Touch Studios’ Sébastien Onomo produces. “Funan” composer Thibault Kientz Agyeman will create the film’s the score.

French highlights also take in Pierre Földes’ “Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” (produced by Cinema Defacto), Sarah Van Den Boom’ “Seraphine” (Little Big Story), Alexis Ducord and Benjamin Massoubre’ “Sheba” (Maybe Movies), omnibus horror movie “Uncanny Stories” (Folimage) and the TeamTO-produced “Ninn,” based on Johan Pilet & Jean-Michel Darlot’ series of graphic novels.

Also in development, Romania’s multi-prized Anca Damian, director of “Marona’s Fantastic Tale,” will present her third animated feature, “Starseed,” produced by Bucharest-based Aparte Film. Set in Zimbabwe, “Starseed” centers on Geekisde, a somewhat special and lonesome little girl who has the appearance of an African albino. Bullied by other children, she finds strength in the love of her mother.

Damian will also present a awaited sneak preview of Romania-France-Belgium co-production “The Island.”

“Caramel’s Words” marks the new project of Cartoon Movie winner Salvador Simó, prized for “Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles.” Produced by Simó’s label Koniec Films, based in Barcelona, “Words” is written by the director and regular co-scribe Eligio Montero. It turns on  Kori, a deaf child living in a Saharan refugee camp. Thanks to his mom, Kori is capable of reading lips and knows sign language. But he has a special skill –he can read the lips of a camel, a kid’s best friend and that way the animal’s thoughts become beautiful poems and the voice of his people.

2021 catches Cartoon Movie at a contradictory time, due to the C. “Animation is gaining popularity and with changes in live action production due to the pandemic, many have considered producing animation films,” said Cartoon Movie general director Annick Maes.

That said, the overall number of titles presented at Cartoon Movies has edged down. “We received less films in production as producers didn’t start production as originally planned in 2020 but rather finished films which are now waiting for release,” she added.

France has 22 projects at Cartoon Movie, more than Spain (nine) Denmark, Germany, and Romania (three each) put together – a sign of the scale of the current French animation industry, which has grown robustly I’ve the last two decades. Other countries with titles this year at Cartoon Movie include Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Slovakia, and Sweden.

Spain’s lineup also includes Lorena Ares’ “Hanna and the Monsters” (from Mr Miyagi Films ), Fermin Muguruza’s “Black is Beltza II: Ainhoa” (Talka Records), Chelo Loureiro’s “Valentina” and José Sánchez Montes and Manuel Sicilia’s “Moonlit Flamenco” (Rokyn Animation).

Of the fifty-five projects at Cartoon Movie, three will be seen as sneak previews and eight as works in progress, having entered production. 22 other titles are in development, and another 22 will be unveiled as initial art concept.

Besides established directors such as Damian, Simó, Do Felicioli and Gagnol and Czech stop-motion master Jiří Barta (“Golem”), there’s a bunch of first-timers with buzzy works –Poland’s Jola Kudela (“A Door to the Woods”), France’s Nadia Micault (“Shadows”), Hungarian Tibor Bánóczki and Sarolta Szabó (“White Plastic Sky”) and France’s Catherine Maximoff (“War with the Salamanders“).

The number of CGI-titles have also plunged, by 40%,  compared to 2020, to twelve 3D projects and nineteen mixed 2D-3D titles.  The migration to cheaper 2D is significant, accounting for 23 projects at this year’s forum. The move from 3D to 2D, a longterm trend, is the most obvious reason for average budgets at Cartoon Movie dropping 22% to €5.4 million ($6.6 million), said Maes.

“It’s not a question of 2D working better than 3D or the reverse but rather the global concept and the style of the project, which producers look at” and the choose 2D, she added.

“Smaller budgets might also be an early a result of the pandemic crisis, though it’s perhaps too early to judge, said Maes. As the future’s not clear regarding when cinema be open again, or films be released,  or even festivals take place again, I suppose that producers are taking less risks for the moment,” Maes said.

CARTOON MOVIE 2021

IN PRODUCTION

“Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman” (France, Luxembourg, Canada)

“Checkered Ninja 2,” (Denmark)

“Chickenhare and the Hamster of Darkness,” (Belgium, France)

“Heart of a Tower,” (Slovakia, Czech Republic, Belgium)

“My Grandfather’s Demons,” (Portugal, Spain, France)

“Red Jungle,” (France, Switzerland, France)

“Valentina,” (Spain)

“White Plastic Sky,” (Hungary, Slovakia)

 SNEAK PREVIEW

“Christmas at Cattlehill,” (Norway)

“Flee,” (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, France)

“The Island,” (Romania, France, Belgium)

IN DEVELOPMENT

“Arco,” (France)

“Bear Park,” (Finland)

“Black Is Beltza II: Ainhoa,” (Spain)

“Copperbeak,” (Italy)

“Flavours of Iraq,” (France)

“Golem,” (Czech Republic)

“Granny Samurai – The Monkey King and I,” (Germany, Denmark)

“Hanna and the Monsters,” (Spain, Belgium)

“Lucie’s Frightful Adventures,” (Belgium Luxembourg)

“Maryam and Varto,” (France)

“Moonlit Flamenco,” (Spain)

“Seraphine,” (France)

“Sheba,” (France)

“Shadows,” (France, Belgium)

“Sorya,” (France)

“The Character of Rain,” (France)

“The Fire Keeper,” (France)

“The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil,” (Spain, U.K.)

“Uncanny Stories,” (France)

“Winnipeg, Seeds of Hope,” (Spain, Chile, France)

“Your Spotted Skin,” (Germany)

AT CONCEPT

“A Door to the Woods,” (France, Poland)

“Adil,” (Norway)

“Anna Yueh – Love Comes in Winter,” (Italy, China)

“Birds Don’t Look Back,” (France)

“Brave Little Nikki,” (Sweden)

“Caramel’s Words,” (Spain)

“Cut and Run,” (France)

“Eyeballed,” (Ireland)

“Igi,” (Georgia)

“Isis and Osiris,” (France)

“Marie-Louise, My Little Princess,” (France)

“Nessi Jr,” (Germany)

“Ninn,” (France)

“Pepino the Accordionist,” (Spain, Portugal)

“Rosa and the Stone Troll,” (Denmark)

“Starseed,” (Romania)

“The Adventure of Fram the Polar Bear,” (Romania)

“The Lost Queen,” (Ireland)

“The Midnight King,” (France, Canada)

“The Treasure of Barracuda,” (Spain)

“Tsitili,” (France)

“War With the Salamanders,” (France)

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