One of the more remarkable production stories in the animation world is getting a happy ending.

Mila, a short cg film about a girl’s experience of World War II, was conceived as a volunteer-based project: more than 350 artists from 35 countries have pitched in over the course of eight years to help make the film a reality. And now the finish line is in sight. Cinesite has announced that it will work with the director to complete the film at its Vancouver studio.

That director is Cinzia Angelini, an animator and story artist based in Los Angeles, and currently head of story at Cinesite. While working for big studios like Disney, Warner Bros., Sony, and Illumination, she has made steady progress on Mila, a passion project inspired by her mother’s childhood. The film tells the story of a girl and two women during the 1943 bombing of Trento, Italy, Angelini’s hometown.

“I believe that a strong theme like the one portrayed in Mila, inspired by true stories and told through the powerful magic of animation, can move people and influence our future generations like nothing else can,” said Angelini in a statement. “The fact that a major studio like Cinesite shares this belief and is willing to help me bring it to the big screen is fantastic.”

“Sadly, Mila is a timely condemnation of the violence currently on the world stage today,” added Tara Kemes, Cinesite’s Vancouver general manager. “Cinesite’s talented team and the magic of animation will support Cinzia in moving people, reminding us all of the humanity at stake, and the sense of hope that a child’s perspective can give us. As a studio we’re always seeking diverse projects covering a range of subjects, styles and scales and Cinesite is delighted to be able to support an independent project written and directed by a woman.”

Cinesite, which is headquartered in the U.K., started out as a vfx company before branching out into animation. In 2017, it bought Vancouver’s Nitrogen Studios, a move that expanded its animation production capacity. Mila will be completed in Cinesite’s Vancouver studio, which recently finished work on the feature-length The Addams Family.

In a career spanning more than 25 years, Angelini has worked on such films as The Prince of Egypt, Open Season, Bolt, Despicable Me 3, The Grinch, and Abominable. She describes the Mila team as “the largest independent, world-wide, virtual studio collaboration ever created.” She has given a couple of TEDx Talks in which she presents animation as a means to bridge cultural boundaries (see below).

Mila is a co-production between Pixel Cartoon, Ibiscusmedia, and Cinesite, with Unicef Italy as a sponsor. The producer is Andrea Emmes. Head to the film’s official website for more information.

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