At Annecy, streaming service Netflix and French animation school Gobelins announced a partnership to support equal opportunities for diverse voices in animation.

Through the Netflix Animation Fellowship, one Gobelins graduate each year will be able to work alongside animation professionals in Japan to develop original Netflix anime titles. The post-graduate program intends to help deepen both the technical and creative skills of its participants. Gobelins student Claire Matz is the first winner of this new fellowship.

Additionally, Netflix will fund scholarships for up to ten students a year over four years from the African continent to study at Gobelins as part of their Master of Arts in character animation and animated filmmaking program. The first recipients of the character animation scholarship program will be named in September 2019. This decision is line with Netflix’s interest in African talent, as evidenced earlier this year with the announcement of the company’s first original African animated series, Mama K’s Team 4 from Zambian writer Malenga Mulendema.

Nathalie Berriat, director of Gobelins, said of the new initiatives: “We care deeply about helping to promote equal opportunities in the animation industry and we want to ensure that financial constraints don’t act as a brake for students. We’re excited to work with Netflix to support upcoming talent in animation from diverse backgrounds and cultures.”

“We want to give talented young animators from around the world an opportunity to immerse themselves in the culture of Japanese anime and contribute their skill and passion to this globally beloved art form,” added John Derderian, who oversees Netflix’s anime programming efforts out of Japan. “Claire Matz is the trailblazer for this initiative and we look forward to her collaboration with the extraordinary teams of animators and artists working in Japan on our upcoming slate of Netflix originals.”

Netflix has been consistently diversifying its animation slate over the last few years with anime series such as Devilman Crybaby, Aggretsuko, and Ultraman; adult animated series like Bojack Horseman, Big Mouth, and Disenchantment; and Juan Antin’s recently released animated feature film Pachamama.

Later this year the company will release Klaus from director Sergio Pablos and SPA Studios, and it has also acquired Jérémy Clapin and Xilam Animation’s I Lost My Body, which won the Cristal for Best Animated Feature at Annecy over the weekend.

Other upcoming animated projects from diverse creators include Mighty Little Bheem from India’s Green Gold Animation, Larva Island from Korean animation studio Tuban, YooHoo to the Rescue from Korea’s Aurora World, Dino Girl Gauko from Japanese creator Akira Shigino, and Maya and the Three by Mexican creator Jorge Gutierrez.

(Photo at top: Netflix and Annecy announce the partnership in Annecy, France on June 11. Pictured, left to right: Malenga Mulendema, Melissa Cobb, John Derderian, Cécile Blondel, LeSean Thomas, Moira Marguin, Claire Matz, and Taiki Sakurai.)

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