"Noah’s Tree." "Noah’s Tree."
TV

6 Promising European Animation Projects That We Saw At Cartoon Forum

Cartoon Brew has selected six of the 80 or so projects pitched recently in Toulouse, France, at the 29th edition of Cartoon Forum, the leading European co-production platform for animated television and new media projects.

For three of the projects, you can also see their exclusive teaser debuts here on the site.

Here’s a look at each project and what caught our eye about each one:

The Borrowers

What it is: Based on the novels by Mary Norton, whose most famous adaptation is Ghibli’s The Secret World of Arrietty (2010), this fully-cg animated children’s series (52 x 11’) was pitched by Blue Spirit, the French company that produced My Life As A Zucchini. Ten years old, no bigger than an apple, Arrietty lives with her family in the electrical switchboard of a hotel, unbeknownst to the humans who stay there. Until one of them, a boy named Tom, saves Arrietty’s life…

Why it’s special: This pitch, the most attended of the three-day Cartoon Forum event, showed great promise. The teaser trailer, debuting exclusively on Cartoon Brew today, displays an attention to detail, and very nice cinematography and lighting. The camera is very mobile in order to follow the Borrowers in the beautiful looking maze-like hotel.

Globozone

"Globozone."
What it is: Imagined by Gangpol und Mit, a French duet which creates shows mixing animation and electronic music, this comic series for “kidults” takes place within the GloboZone, a huge building that its inhabitants never leave – a closed world where windows are in fact screens and bricks hide drones. Two employees alleviate their boredom by playing music with whatever instruments, objects or… animals they can find. The 3d series will be real-time rendered with Unity, and can easily develop cross-media content. The Franco-German channel Arte has currently ordered 10 two-minute long episodes for its website, but Globozone producer, Umanimation, is willing to do many more.

Why it’s special: With an attractive pixel art look, Globozone could be a funny comedy about so-called technological progress. Each episode will have a vr version available on Facebook and Snapchat.

Selfish

What it is: Pitched by Kazak Productions, a French company which produces quality animated shorts (Gabriel Harel’s Yul and the Snake and more recently Jean-Charles Mbotti Malolo’s Make It Soul), this series for adults and teenagers mixes 2d computer and drawings. In Clamville, a hyper-connected city at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, anthropomorphized fish are hooked on their “shellphones”. They post “selfish” on SashiMe, order food on Squidora, and date on Fishook. In each one of the 30 two-and-a-half-minute episodes, one of the four main characters will facing a problem with virtual life under the sea.

Why it’s special: Set in a city that looks like an underwater Tokyo, Selfish could become a funny satire of our connected lives and addiction to social networks. The pitch had a real impact in Toulouse. Kazak is already in discussions with France Télévisions for the French market and (rare for a French animation series) Netflix for the American market.

Noah’s Tree

"Noah’s Tree."
What it is: A stop-motion special (26’) for families about an anxious teenager whose parents’ divorce disturbs him so greatly that he faints during panic attacks. When waking up, he begins to transform into a tree. Three magical creatures he meets explain to him that that’s what happens to people who can’t express their feelings. Produced by Filmfabriq, a Hungarian company, and Vivement Lundi, French co-producer of Emma de Swaef and Marc James Roels This Magnificent Cake !, the project still needs another co-producer to be completed.

Why it’s special: Noah’s Tree is inspired by the personal life of Peter Vacz, a Hungarian animator who has directed wonderful shorts mixing stop motion and 2d hand-drawn animation, like Rabbit and Deer (2013) that dealt with emotional incompatibility and mending bonds. My Life As A Zucchini was one of the references mentioned for Noah’s Tree, whose story seems as dark and animation as sensitive as that Swiss feature.

Silly Sundays

What it is: Produced by Cartoon Saloon, the three-time Academy Award nominated Irish studio (The Secret of Kells, Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner), this series for preschool children (4-5 years old) will focus on a family’s sunny Sundays at the beach. Each of the 52 eleven-minute episodes (including a two-minute song) will tell how these perfect days can sometimes go a little awry. Using digital 2d animation, the series will rely a lot on slapstick humor.

Why it’s special: Based on an idea of Nuria González Blanco, a Spanish associate producer at Cartoon Saloon, this project is very simple but is filled with the childish glee of sunny days at the sea. With its tangy colors, its round graphic design, and hopping kids, Silly Sundays is very endearing.

Woolly Woolly
"Woolly Woolly."
“Woolly Woolly.”

What it is: Normaal, the French company that made a series out of Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, and Canada’s PVP Group pitched a project for preschool kids (4-5 years old) with characters inspired by Anna Hrachovec’s hand-knitted creations on her website Mochimochi Land. The heroes, dwarfs who can change their gender by using a different hat, do not talk but they communicate by whistling. In each of the 78 seven-minute episodes, they have to fulfill the mission given by two children talking in voice-over.

Why it’s special: An entirely hand-knitted (characters, animals, sets, and props) series is quite unusual. The teaser shown during the hilarious pitch (where the producers were disguised as their characters) was extremely imaginative, cute, and funny.

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