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Special Issue
Anniversaries and

Dear Reader

We are delighted to welcome you to this new trade magazine dedicated to European animation. Your first question might be: Why? The answer is simple: because, so far, there hasn’t been a publication with a specific focus on European animation and its infinite wealth of projects, talents, schools and industry events!

We’ve been in this business for over 20 years, and that’s why we’re able to present you with a magazine that we hope will become an authoritative voice in the field. Our aim is to be a key reference for European animation professionals and a bridge between our continent and the global market. EAJ will pursue this mission by taking a 360-degree approach. We won’t just offer a media system consisting of a print magazine, an all-news website, a newsletter and social media pages. More importantly, we’ll cover the world of animation through a network of journalists based across Europe, who will offer their valuable local and regional insights. Our reporting will give voice to producers, distributors, broadcasters and, above all, the many talents that make this market extraordinary. And, of course, this publisher will bring its extensive editorial and market expertise in the field of content development to this new venture. Together, we will promote the excellence of European animation all over the world, engaging with enthusiasts and professionals alike.

Thank you for your time, and enjoy your reading!

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Francesca Wolfler


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europeanaj The-EuropeanAnimation-Journal The European Animation Journal the_european_ animation_journal

Read the digital version to enjoy extra content! FOLLOW OUR DAILY NEWS ON:


Angry Birds: A Transmedia Journey

Gaumont’s Highlights at MIFA


At the forefront of European animation


Movimenti turns 20!


An international animation factory with an Italian touch


An international studio between tradition and innovation


2025: a year of celebrations for Cartoon Saloon


Rainbow at Annecy Festival 2024: Showcasing Magic and Innovation


Animoka Studios: Animation, Innovation and Passion


Nelly Jelly together with “3Megos” to create a new Comedy Pre-School Series


Iryna Kostyuk and Tetiana Ruban unveil the future of the Mavka franchise


From comics to animation. A family tradition


Krešimir Zubčić unpacks Croatian animation, HRT’s content strategy


The future of animated features is brigh


Benshi’s editorial policy, discovering the best animated films and series for children


Levelk focuses on two key animated projects, Checkered Ninja 3 and Mumbo Jumbo

CGWIRE Animation needs Connection


Pikkukala unveils editorial strategy, new challenges ahead


Honouring Laika’s story


Talents from Portugal. David Doutel, Vasco Sá

FOCUS ON VIEWPOINTS TALENTS COVER STORY EDITORIAL 8 CONTENTS 18 54 64 72 10 22 28 56 68 32 34 58 70 38 60 42 62 44 48 52 GAUMONT
renewed over time
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2024 New TV series and seasons


90s nostalgia takes centre stage in Annecy-bound Pelikan Blue


Behind the scenes of Flow, the hidden gem of this year’s Cannes Film Festival


Living Large, a universal story of friendship and self-acceptance


Università Cattolica. A school that dialogues with the industry


Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, a comprehensive educational offer


Discover the European Animation at MIFA 2024

Les Femmes s’Animent hosts a collective workshop for Annecy 2024


Five projects under the spotlight at this year’s Animation Day


Young Horizons Industry, the international coproduction forum for films and series for kids and youth


Linking animation with licensing


Every year, Stuttgart is home to the Animation Industry


The central role of Cartoon Media for the European animation industry


The cradle of children’s content


From books to screen: facts and figures


A brilliant child, Tom Gates


The role of artificial intelligence in the creation of IPs


The events to attend and follow from June through October

BEYOND ANIMATION EVENTS COMING SOON LAWS & RULES WHAT’S NEXT EDITORIAL 9 CONTENTS 82 100 86 104 106 84 102 89 90 92 94 96 97 98 74 76 78 80
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Angry Birds: A Transmedia Journey

Rovio’s Angry Birds spread their wings from their mobile game beginnings to become a globally recognized transmedia brand. A big part of that journey has been creating animated content that retains the essence of the Angry Birds world while expanding the storytelling possibilities. EAJ invites you to learn more about Rovio’s transmedia history and hear from the team that is bringing the brand to new territory in the new animated series, Angry Birds: Mystery Island.

The Angry Birds brand has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a mobile game in 2009. Today, it is a global phenomenon that spans games, animation, consumer products, as well as location-based entertainment. EAJ will explore the transmedia journey of Angry Birds, from its early days as a mobile game to its evolution into a fully-fledged entertainment franchise. We will also take a behind-thescenes look at the partnerships and collaborations that have helped to bring Angry Birds to life, and we will explore some of the unique features and elements of the latest addition to the franchise, Angry Birds Mystery Island

Origin of the Species

The original Angry Birds game was released in late 2009. Within months, the game was everywhere, spreading rapidly by word of mouth. Angry Birds became the first app to download on your new iPhone 3GS. Celebrities were name dropping it. Angry Birds was referenced in TV and movies.

What started as a humble mobile game from a small studio, rocketed to global success, reaching one billion downloads by 2012. Also, by that time, Rovio – the rapidly growing studio behind the game, had parlayed the initial success of the game


into a series of sequels and spinoffs including Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Friends, Angry Birds Space, and a brand crossover in Angry Birds Star Wars.

However, games were not the only investment Rovio was making. Rovio recognized early on that licensed products, and telling the Angry Birds story through animated content are valuable ways for fans to engage with the brand. The first Angry Birds licensed products (a series of plush toys of the titular characters) were made available for sale in 2010, spearheading a licensing program that would see the birds appearing on everything from apparel to fishing lures in the coming years.

Rovio recognized early on that licensed products, and telling the Angry Birds story through animated content are valuable ways for fans to engage with the brand.

Additionally in 2013, Angry Birds branched into animation, releasing the first episode of Angry Birds Toons through their own streaming platform of the same name, which was available in all Angry Birds games. Since then, the Angry Birds have appeared in several of their own animated series, which aired on streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, as well as on their own YouTube channel. In 2016, Angry Birds flew to the big screen with the premiere of The Angry Birds Movie, the first-ever movie based on a mobile game. The sequel was released in 2019 and became the highest-rated movie based on a mobile game on Rotten Tomatoes.

With Games, licensed products, and animated content, Rovio created a firm transmedia foundation for Angry Birds that cemented the brand into the public consciousness. The brand’s success can be attributed to a clever game that came at just the right time, technologically speaking, and also some enterprising leaders who ventured into territory with the brand, rarely seen in gaming. But when it comes to the lasting success of Angry Birds, there is something else at play as well.

Angry Birds is the first mobile game series to reach 1 billion downloads
Plush toys were the first Angry Birds licensed products, first released in 2010

Why Transmedia? Why Now?

“Angry Birds has been an early bird when it comes to transmedia,” says Rovio’s VP of Transmedia, Hanna Valkeapää-Nokkala. “We have been one of the first to develop IP from mobile games into a globally recognized brand with licensed products, animation, feature movies, and locationbased entertainment. Now that Angry Birds is fifteen years old, we are really at home telling the Angry Birds story in a variety of different mediums and platforms. It’s an approach we have really embraced over the years.”

“Angry Birds has appeared across multiple media for over a decade now, with their first animated series premiering in 2013, but we believe that one of the unique opportunities in Transmedia lies in the ability to craft meaningful and intertwined experiences across multiple media types and platforms, each with their own unique strengths,” says Angry Birds Creative Officer, Ben Mattes

“One of the unique opportunities in transmedia is the ability to craft meaningful and intertwined experiences across multiple media types and platforms, each with their own unique strengths”.

- Ben Mattes, Angry Birds Creative Officer -

Transmedia storytelling has the potential to engage a wide audience by providing multiple entry points into a narrative. By telling a story across different media platforms, such as games, films, television shows, and books, transmedia

Making its debut in 2013, Angry Birds Toons was the first series that brought the Angry Birds characters to life in animated form
The Angry Birds Movie was the number one film in over 50 countries in its opening week

storytelling can reach a wider range of people with different interests and preferences. This approach allows audiences to choose the platforms they are most comfortable with and to engage with the story in the way that best suits them. Also, transmedia storytelling can create a more immersive and engaging experience for audiences, as they can explore the story from multiple perspectives.

“It’s important to us for the people who enjoy the Angry Birds brand to have different touch points through which they can engage with the brand and deepen their experience of the Angry Birds story.”

- Hanna Valkeapää-Nokkala, Rovio VP of Transmedia -

Hanna Valkeapää-Nokkala elaborates, “Some people might love playing Angry Birds on their phone, others might not be playing the mobile games, but they see Angry Birds at a Topgolf location, or they see our animated content on YouTube or streaming services, or the movies. So Angry Birds has all of these different touchpoints that allow different people to access the brand and also deepen the lore and storytelling.”

To achieve success, it is crucial to have a strong brand identity that remains consistent across different media platforms. This requires a dedicated team that ensures that the brand’s values and visual elements are upheld throughout various adaptations, wherever the brand appears. By maintaining a cohesive brand identity, transmedia storytelling can create a unified and immersive experience for audiences, strengthening the overall impact and recognition of the brand.

What makes Angry Birds, Angry Birds?

What is the secret sauce that has kept audiences engaged with Angry Birds for the past fifteen (almost to the day) years? It is much the same as what drew players to the original games. Ben Mattes explains, “The eternal and existential

Customers celebrate the 2023 opening of iSwii by Angry Birds, a themed café located in New York City
The Angry Birds Topgolf game brings the birds’ trademark tower-toppling gameplay to Topgolf locations around the world

competition between the Angry Birds and their nemeses, the pigs, is a wonderful platform for creating experiences that center on Action, Adventure, and Humor – three universally appealing themes across games, movies, TV, books, etc..” Ben’s work with Angry Birds extends to all projects involving the brand, with his direct involvement varying from a light touch to being involved in the core creative team from early stages in a project.

In addition to the ongoing conflict between the birds and pigs that fuels so many stories, Ben attributes the brand’s versatility to the strength of its characters. “Angry Birds has demonstrated over the years that our beloved characters –iconic and instantly recognizable the world over – carry over extremely well across a variety of styles, medias and genres, whether appearing in the movies or shows, or in a fan-favorite classic game.”

Bringing it all together

“The eternal competition between the birds and pigs is a wonderful platform for creating experiences across games, movies, TV, books, etc.”
- Ben Mattes, Angry Birds Creative Officer -

When it comes to translating the Angry Birds stories and characters to so many context, Rovio’s licensing team is instrumental, including Jenna Tähtinen, a Senior Graphic Designer who in her eleven year tenure at Rovio has overseen the production of style guides and visual guidelines that inform licensees on how the Angry Birds characters and other visual elements should be used in everything from toys to physical experiences to product packaging.

Jenna explains, “We release several style guides a year and are constantly updating our offering based on our partners’ needs and upcoming visual trends and themes that are fitting

Licensed products featuring the Angry Birds brand rely upon style guides crafted by Rovio’s licensing team

for Angry Birds. The whole licensing team works very closely together, but I work particularly close with our Senior Product Manager Ilkka Heino who works on the product development side. Sometimes there might be a project where a partner needs a more custom approach. If that is the case, we put our heads together to find the best possible solution.”

When it comes to producing animated series featuring Angry Birds, Jenna and the team are instrumental in ensuring that the final result is distinctly Angry Birds. Jenna again, “I support content production in the early steps of visual development –character design mostly – and supervise production visuals from a brand point of view. Having worked with the brand for over a decade, I have a deep understanding of our characters

and their visual quirks. I’m very happy to share that insight. Also animation – the stories and the characters – has always been close to my heart.”

The Visuals are not the only place where the Angry Birds brand comes out. The stories that develop around the Angry Birds brands also have a distinct character that is unmistakably Angry Birds. On the story side, Creative Supervisor, Juanma Sanchez Cervantes, makes sure that the Angry Birds brand is served appropriately. “I supervise all the creative materials related to animation production. That means revising from the script to the final mix. This extends beyond just trying to note things that should be fixed or improved, but also evaluating the impact on the brand,” says Juanma. He continues, “the most important thing of course is to entertain, which is not easy at all. For the Angry Birds, that means to deliver something fun and original, which often also means to be bold (like our birds) and a bit mischievous (like our piggies).”

In the context of a brand with a rich history spanning nearly fifteen years and encompassing various media platforms, the roles of Jenna and Juanma become increasingly significant. Their expertise and understanding of the brand’s visual and storytelling legacy are crucial for ensuring consistency and authenticity across different adaptations. The deep knowledge of the Angry Birds characters and their ability to navigate the delicate balance between innovation and consistency ensures that each new venture feels authentically “Angry Birds.” Their combined efforts contribute to preserving the brand’s integrity and strengthening its recognition and impact across different mediums.

New Horizons, Mysterious Islands

Animated content is one area that is instrumental to the transmedia storytelling that the Angry Birds are known for. As a medium, it is unique in that it allows the Angry Birds story to be laid out in detail, providing more structured information on the characters and world. This contrasts with licensed products, location-based entertainment attractions, and at times even games, which each present fragments of a larger Angry Birds story. Animation presents an opportunity to tell a fully self-contained story that is thoughtfully crafted.

Angry Birds Mystery Island: A Hatchlings Adventure premiered on May 21 on Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Kids+ in select territories
The Angry Birds appear in several short-format animated series available on streaming platforms and YouTube

Overall, animated series are an important part of the Angry Birds brand because they allow the story to be told in a more detailed and nuanced way. This has helped to make the Angry Birds characters more relatable and lovable, and it has also expanded on the lore of the Angry Birds universe.

The newest animated series to expand the Angry Birds world has recently made its streaming premier on Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Kids+ in selected territories. A cooperation between Rovio, Amazon, and animation studio Titmouse, the series follows a group of new Angry Birds characters as they explore a strange island and work together to survive.

As mentioned, Angry Birds: Mystery Island introduces audiences to a whole new cast of Hatchling characters (along with one piglet). The Hatchlings, the too-cute-for-words baby birds seen in the Angry Birds movies, have been somewhat of a viral success, with a compilation of their cutest moments being the most watched video on the Angry Birds YouTube channel, surpassing even the original Angry Birds trailer in number of views. Now making their speaking debut, these birds are a bit more grown up than the Hatchlings seen in the Angry Birds movies. The main quartet of characters, voiced by Harvey Guillén (What We Do in the Shadows), Kate Micucci (Scooby-Doo!), Dominic Monaghan (The Lord of the Rings), and Nasim Pedrad (Saturday Night Live), are forced to fend for themselves on the series’ titular island. The things they encounter and how they solve problems together in their attempt to return to their homes is the basis for a wild adventure full of action set pieces.

Getting the characters and story together in a way that fits with the Angry Birds brand would not have been possible without close collaboration between Rovio, Amazon, and Titmouse. The close collaboration between the three was evident throughout the production process, from character

design and scriptwriting to animatics and the final product. Each company brought its unique strengths to the table, resulting in a series that is both visually stunning and emotionally engaging.

The success of Angry Birds stands as a testament to the transformative power of transmedia storytelling and the enduring allure of meticulously crafted characters. Through the commitment to delivering exceptional experiences across diverse platforms, Rovio has fostered a brand that resonates deeply with audiences of all ages.

At the heart of this achievement lies the tireless dedication of the Rovio team, whose passion for the Angry Birds brand has been instrumental in maintaining its consistency and exceptional quality across various mediums. These dedicated individuals work relentlessly behind the scenes, ensuring that every game, animation, merchandise, and related content remains true to the core values and unique charm of the franchise.

Their commitment extends beyond the creative process; the Rovio team also plays a vital role in fostering a vibrant and engaged community of Angry Birds enthusiasts. Through social media platforms, fan events, and interactive experiences, they have successfully cultivated a sense of belonging and shared excitement among fans worldwide.

The success of Angry Birds is a result of the harmonious convergence of captivating characters, immersive storytelling, and an unwavering commitment to maintaining the brand’s integrity. It serves as a reminder of the importance of creating a cohesive and engaging brand experience across multiple platforms and the enduring appeal of well-developed characters that connect with audiences on a deep and meaningful level.


Gaumont’s Highlights at MIFA

With a rich catalogue of titles and a worldleading position in the industry, Gaumont offers a series of unmissable novelties in the run-up to MIFA 2024 in Annecy and for the coming season. EAJ interviewed Terry Kalagian, President, Global Animation & Family and Fanny Gilabert, VP, International TV Sales at Gaumont to learn more about their line-up and next big plans.

Let’s begin with your highlights at MIFA, which are  ‘Tiny Head’ and  ‘Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles’. Can you tell us more about them?

Fanny Gilabert: At this year’s MIFA, Gaumont puts the spotlight on Tiny Head (52x11’), our new 2D comedy series aimed at children from 6 to 10. Thanks to our partners France Télévisions, RAI Kids and TV5 Monde, on the broadcasters’ side, and Enanimation (Italy), Toonz (India), and Studio 100 (Germany), on the producers’ and distributors’ side, production has just started. We are currently looking for pre-sales and we look forward to showing more material to buyers! Tiny Head is a chubby cat with a little head. She is the leader of a trio of pet friends lost in the woods after being accidentally ejected from their family’s trailer. Together with Ird the Bird and Chopper the Dog, they embark on the greatest, funniest, and sometimes most hazardous adventure of their pet lives, back to the wild! And while their mission is to return to their pet owners, they

Fanny Gilabert Terry Kalagian GAUMONT
Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles

are constantly, and comically, sidetracked by their new, funloving animal friends. This episodic show will be ready for full delivery on Q2 2026!

As for our completed series, Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles (20x22’) is now available after a successful launch on Netflix worldwide. This comedy-action-sci-fi-fantasy series with vibrant, high-quality CGI, will be soon on MTVA in Hungary! This coming of age show aimed at kids from 8 to 12 is based on Usagi Yojimbo, the ongoing series of comic books by award winning creator Stan Sakai, who was involved in the production. With strong values like determination and solidarity, within a group of misfit heroes who show that unity is key to overcoming all challenges, this series is internationally appealing to boys and girls!

Which is the other programmes’ lineup you will focus on at MIFA?

Fanny Gilabert: Gaumont also has a special treat for younger siblings with the CGI series Do, Re & Mi (52x11’). This musical adventure has won over international buyers and is now available on Amazon Prime worldwide, ABC (Australia), Knowledge (Canada), YLE (Finland), RTS (Switzerland), MTVA (Hungary) and will soon be on ViuTV (Hong Kong) and Thai PBS (Thailand)! The show is an introduction to music for children aged 2 to 5, thanks to three adorable birdie friends


Format: 52 x 11’ – 2D Animation

Genre: Comedy

Target: Kids 6-10 y.o

Commissioned by: France Télévisions, Rai Kids, TV5 Monde

In association with: Enanimation, Toonz, Studio 100

Synopsis: Three city dwelling pets are forced to make a new home-away fromhome in the woods after getting ejected by accident from their family’s trailer en route to their holidays! While they still have a mission to return to their pet owners, they are constantly, and comically, sidetracked by their new, fun-loving animal friends.

called Do, Re and Mi, who live in a colorful world filled with songs. It offers a great family time as children and parents can sing and dance together! The series is already dubbed in many languages, so the international journey of Do, Re & Mi has only just begun!

The evergreen slapstick buddy comedy series Bionic Max (52x11’) is also among our line-up for MIFA. This wacky show follows a guinea pig named Max, and his best friend JC, who live all sorts of madcap adventures thanks to Max’s bionic (and sometimes uncontrollable) body! It is great escapism for after school entertainment, and a rollercoaster of funny jokes and unexpected events, where friendship always wins! Targeting kids aged 6 to 11, the 2D series has been commissioned by Gulli (France), and picked up by Warner Bros Discovery (Italy), MBC (MENA), Globosat (Brazil), ABC Australia (Australia), Pluto TV (USA), EITB (Spain), Happy Kids (USA), TDM (Macao) and the French-speaking channel Tivi5Monde.

And since cinema is in our DNA, our line-up also combines feature film projects.

Tiny Head
Do, Re & Mi

Can you tell us more about the project ‘High in the Clouds’?

Terry Kalagian: High in the Clouds is our animated feature film with Paul McCartney. It is inspired by Paul’s children novel published in 2005. The feature was written by the amazing Jon Croker (Paddington 2, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse) and is being directed by the wonderful Toby Genkel (The Amazing Maurice). The ever-talented Patrick Hanenberger (Rise of the Guardians,  Lego Movie 2) is our production designer. There are six original McCartney songs in the film that we we cannot wait for audiences to hear. The theme of this movie is about freedom of expression, the freedom to have your voice… kind of what you would expect from a Paul McCartney film. We are incredibly excited and proud to work with Paul on this wonderful movie. We are in production and will be delivering it in 2026.

How has the audience been changing, recently, and accordingly your projects?

Terry Kalagian: At Gaumont, we are super focused on the kids’ market… on preschool, bridge and kids 6-11 content. Like everyone, we are keenly aware that kids spend a huge amount of time online. This is not a recent change. On the positive side, kids are now used to seeing content that comes from anywhere. By default, kids are watching global content, both from television and from online sources like YouTube. While we track the changes to kids’ content consumption, we are also tracking how they are staying the same… they are still looking for characters and situations that either reflect

themselves and their lives or to which they can aspire. Those are the tenets we are reflecting in our shows.

How is the European Animation industry changing, in your opinion? Do you think - and how – the EU Animation industry can be leading within the global entertainment industry?

Terry Kalagian: Like the entire entertainment industry, the European Animation industry is not immune to the contractions being felt in the marketplace. We have been through these cycles before, and the community is used to collaborating with each other to make global content. We know how to do it, and this is important, now more than ever. What has changed is that more content from everywhere is being seen globally so hit shows can come from anywhere. I do think that the European Animation industry can be global



Format: 20 x 22’ – CGI Animation

Genre: Comedy, Action, Sci-Fi, Fantasy

Target: Kids 8-12 y.o

Commissioned by: Netflix

Synopsis: Usagi is a teenage rabbit who doesn’t want much from life - just to be history’s greatest Samurai. When he arrives in the futuristic city of Neo Edo to seek his destiny, he accidentally unleashes dozens of the bizarre, ancient monsters known as Yokai. What a disaster! With the help of his new reluctant, misfit crew Chizu the Ninja, Gen the Rhino and Kitsune the Fox, he must vanquish the yokai and clean up his mess. But just when they get started, they stumble onto another catastrophic revelation that could destroy Neo Edo... unless the Samurai Rabbit can stop it! The series is based on Stan Sakai’s comic books ‘Usagi Yojimbo’.

In this page images from Samurai Rabbit: The Usagi Chronicles

leaders, in some ways we already are. We are already making great shows, and we have countries that care about the kids’ audience and who support mandates that kids content has to be made.

Which is the importance of talents within your scouting process...

Terry Kalagian: While we mostly look for pre-existing IP as source material for new shows or features, talented writers and artists are so important to the development and production process. We would not be anywhere without them. We look to these talented people to bring their passion, ideas and magic to the projects.

What kind of projects are in your plans for the near future?

Terry Kalagian: We have a really fun diverse mix of mostly comedies in development. Some are more slapstick while others are  more character driven. The themes vary from how one can outrun their bad luck (or try) to an homage to slapstick comedy to a dark comedy with some good scares. We have contemporary settings to a nod to familiar fairytales with a new twist. We are super excited to bring them to Annecy this year.


Format: 52 x 11’ – 2D Animation

Genre: Slapstick Buddy Comedy

Target: Kids 6-11 y.o.

Commissioned by: M6, Gulli

Synopsis: Max, a malfunctioning bionic guinea pig and his goldfish buddy, JC, escape from their laboratory into the bustling streets of Woodchuck Woods. Adapting to the urban jungle is no small feat for our pair of intrepid misfits, who try to fit in with the local wildlife while living madcap and clumsy adventures.


Format: 52 x 11’ – CGI Animation

Genre: Musical, Adventure

Target: Preschool

Commissioned by: Amazon Prime Video

Synopsis: Join birdie friends, Do, Re and Mi in the musical world of Beebopsburgh, an island where instruments grow in the Falsetto Forest and a giant Music Mountain tower above all their adventures. Discover the sounds and melodies, move to the beat and see how music helps solve any problem. The original songs of the series are by Jackie Tohn and Grammy nominated composer David Schuler. The series is executive produced and voiced by Kristen Bell.

Do, Re & Mi
Bionic Max


At the forefront of European animation

TAT Productions, founded 24 years ago, is a leading independent French animation studio specialising in the creation of original properties that have been successfully established in cinema and television, in France and abroad. We discuss about their success with David Alaux and Jean-François Tosti, Founders and Producers at TAT.

TAT has created international successes. What does it mean for you to be creators of stories?

Since its inception, TAT Productions has consistently adhered to its editorial line: the creation of original stories aimed at all audiences while maintaining complete independence. All our works adhere to this path: we are primarily producers of original properties, which we develop from A to Z, from the synopsis to the final edit. Each new project gives rise to a

Jean-François Tosti and David Alaux

brand-new universe with new characters, thus expanding our catalog of IPs. This commitment has resulted in the creation of The Jungle Bunch, Terra Willy, Pil, and Epic Tails, with new universes in development. This is our driving force, and we continue in this direction with undiminished enthusiasm for almost 25 years!

What is the development strategy of your IPs?

This is closely tied to the desire to tell “our” stories while remaining independent, fully controlling the production of our works, seeking technical excellence, and pushing available technologies to their limits within our means.

To achieve this, we have internalised a studio capable of handling the entire production of each of our projects. Furthermore, we have participated in and won the call for projects La Grande Fabrique de l’Image, which supports


our investments and R&D, necessary for the growth of our production capacity.

With more than three hundred artists on site, our studio has the capacity to handle the development and production of multiple feature films and TV series simultaneously. Currently, we have three feature films in production at various stages of completion, along with an original TV series. We have decided to develop TV series based on our feature film universes when relevant. We are also exploring service works, such as the Asterix series for Netflix (directed by Alain Chabat). This production capacity requires a constant development of new projects, but as previously mentioned, this is precisely what drives us.

What is your positioning on the local and international markets?

Given our unambiguous editorial stance and the success of our recent projects, we believe TAT is beginning to be regarded as a “premium” independent producer of family-friendly animation that can be trusted. The quality of our films and


Release: 2023

Director: Laurent Bru, Yannick Moulin and Benoît Somville

Scenario: David Alaux, Éric Tosti and JeanFrançois Tosti

From the Original Universe created by: David Alaux, Éric Tosti and Jean-François Tosti

Production Partners: SND, France 3 Cinéma. With support from CANAL+, Région Occitanie, in Partnership with Cnc, Toulouse Métropole, in Partnership with Cnc, Procirep, Angoa And Sacem. with the Participation Of France Télévisions, Ciné+ and Cnc.

Distribution France: SND

International Sales: SND

Synopsis: Who’s called to the rescue when a mysterious super-villain covers the jungle in pink foam that explodes on contact with water? The Jungle Bunch! With less than a month to go before the rainy season, the race against time is on. From the North Pole to the Far East, crossing mountains, deserts and oceans, our heroes will have to travel the world in search of an antidote, far from their favorite jungle!

In this page images and poster from Jungle Bunch 2. World Tour

series is recognised in France and exports very well abroad. We are gradually becoming one of the most easily identifiable producers, known for a broad audience appeal, which is a strong point we increasingly feel in our interactions with partners.

Can you provide more details on your story and how you are structured today?

TAT Productions was established 24 years ago by a group of self-taught enthusiasts of cinema and animation. Following an initial learning phase in the early 2000s, during which we created short films and commercials, we were able to finance our first creative project, Spike, for France Télévisions in 2006. The success of this Christmas TV special marked the beginning of TAT’s growth, with the development of The Jungle Bunch, first as a special and then as a three-season series. This also led to the establishment of TAT Studio, which

oversees the actual fabrication processes of the works we produce. Building on the success of The Jungle Bunch, we proceeded to develop our first feature film. Since that time, we have consistently initiated the writing and development of new projects with the objective of completing one feature film each year, in addition to the production of new TV series derived from our new intellectual properties (IPs).

In line with the growth of our productions, we have evolved the studio’s capacities to ensure we remain at the forefront in terms of visual quality. For instance, we have recently


Release: 2023, France

Director: David Alaux, with the participation of Éric Tosti and Jean-François Tosti

Scenario: David Alaux, Éric Tosti and JeanFrançois Tosti

Graphic Authors: Benoît Daffis and Laurent Houis

Original Music: Olivier Cussac

Production Partners: Apollo Films, France 3 Cinéma. With the participation of France Télévisions, Canal+, Ciné+ and CNC. With the support of Région Occitanie, Toulouse Métropole and Sacem. In association with Manon 10

Distribution France: Apollo Films


International Sales: Kinology

Synopsis: Life goes on peacefully in Yolcos, a beautiful and prosperous port city in ancient Greece, when the population is threatened by the wrath of Poseidon. A young adventurous mouse and the cat who adopted her unwittingly help old Jason and his Argonauts in their quest to save the city. But more than just a helping hand, the operation will ultimately lead them to confront mythology’s most dangerous mythical creatures and overcome all dangers for them.

Epic Tails

developed new real-time rendering capabilities for the series department. These new technologies offer impressive possibilities for our teams, while also being more economical and eco-friendlier.

Tell us about some remarkable successes of the past...

The Jungle Bunch, with the success of the 52-minute TV special, the three seasons of 52 episodes of 11 minutes, and the two feature films, has had a significant impact on TAT Productions. The three seasons of The Jungle Bunch to the Rescue were among the most successful original European animated series worldwide, winning numerous prestigious awards and nominations (including an International Emmy Award, two Pulcinella Awards, and a Kidscreen Award).

...and touch on some new launches and other projects still in the works?

2023 proved to be a particularly fruitful year for TAT Productions. The releases of our two latest feature films performed well in France, with 875,000 viewers for Epic Tails and 830,000 for The Jungle Bunch 2. In addition to these national results, the two films ranked third and tenth in the



Release : 2025

Format: 52x 13’, 3D Animation

Genre: Adventure, Comedy

Target: Kids

Broadcast Partner: France Télévisions

International Distribution: Federation International


French box office (all genres combined) abroad. This was a welcome boost to our economic model, particularly given the impact of sanitary restrictions over recent years.

With regard to ongoing projects, three feature films are currently in production. Pets on a Train, an animated film scheduled for release in 2025, is a family adventure comedy that aligns perfectly with our editorial line. It is the second film in production, following LoveBirds, which is currently in the animatic finalisation stage and scheduled for release the following year. Finally, we have Ringo at Summercamp!, which is currently in graphic development and scheduled for release in 2027.

Synopsis: Pil, a clever and agile little girl, is a true rebel, as adept at leaping from rooftop to rooftop as she is at dressing up as a princess. In the medieval town of Roc-en-Brume, she valiantly watches over the inhabitants with the help of Crobar, Rigolin, and her three tame weasels. Bandits to catch? Pil takes care of them! A tyrannical nobleman who mistreats his subjects? She teaches him a lesson! A mystery linked to an ancient legend? She leads the investigation!

On the television series side, we are commencing production of Pil’s Adventures by Julien Fournet, a 52 x 13-minute series set in the medieval universe of the rebellious little punk Pil we created for the eponymous feature film. We anticipate completion of the first episodes by the end of 2025 and plan to broadcast them on France Télévisions, our historical partner.

Regarding the supply for Netflix, we plan to complete the production of Alain Chabat’s Asterix series by the end of the year.

For some of your properties, you also develop licensing programmes. Do you aim to create a model that can be applied to almost all your projects, or does each project have

In this page images from Pil’s Adventures

its own specific plan?

There are significant differences between licensing for TV series and licensing for feature films. We are gradually becoming more familiar with the process, but it should be noted that licensing is a challenging sector for independent studios when it comes to films. However, the process is more straightforward for TV series. This year, we are presenting Pil’s Adventures. We tested the waters at Brand Licensing Europe (London) and CoBrandz (Paris) with extremely positive feedback. Several manufacturers from a variety of product categories expressed considerable interest in the TV series. We believe that Pil’s Adventures has the potential to become our next significant success. Pil is a unique heroine, a modern princess who embodies strength, independence, and unapologetic girl power. She is the ideal candidate for Generation Alpha. We believe that children and families will be particularly drawn to her.

What are your goals at MIFA?

MIFA is a key event for us. We have been attending this event

In this page images and poster from Pets on a Train

consistently for over 20 years. The event attracts a diverse range of attendees, making it an ideal platform for both recruitment and strategic discussions with our partners. We use the event to discuss ongoing productions, future projects, reconnect with old friends, and we wouldn’t miss this event for anything!

What are your next plans?

To continue our strategy. We will launch a family-friendly animated comedy for the cinema each year and develop the universes we created for the feature films into TV series when relevant. Occasionally, we may also accept service work if we are offered exciting projects.



Relase: 2025

Direction: Benoît Daffis and Jean-Christian Tassy

Scenario: David Alaux, Éric Tosti and JeanFrançois Tosti

Graphic Authors: Benoît Daffis and Laurent Houis

Production Partners: Apollo Films, France 3 Cinéma, Kinologics. With the support of Canal+, Région Occitanie in partnership with CNC, Toulouse Métropole in partnership with CNC, PROCIREP, ANGOA and CNC - Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée. With the participation of France Télévisions, Ciné+. In association with Cinémage 18 and La Banque Postale Image 17

Distribution France: Apollo Films


International Sales: Kinology

Synopsis: When a train unexpectedly starts up, taking only pets with it, the animals discover that Hans, a badger with a grudge, is behind it all. While the crash seems inevitable, the animals can count on Falcon, a roguish raccoon who will do anything to save them.


“Miniheroes of the Forest” © Movimenti Production, MoBo, Zodiak Kids & Family France


Movimenti turns 20!

This year marks a significant milestone for Movimenti. The company is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a raft of new launches and innovative productions. To learn more, EAJ interviewed Giorgio Scorza, CEO and Creative Director at Movimenti Production.

2024 is a significant year for Movimenti Production, as it marks the 20th anniversary of your company’s founding. Is it time for a balance sheet?

After 20 years, we believe we have succeeded in creating a true ecosystem where we manage the entire life cycle of our original productions, from conception to final delivery, followed by worldwide distribution. Moreover, we have achieved these results in Italy. We took our time to develop a unique business model that differed from existing ones in our country. We were fortunate to receive support from RAI, which continues to be the primary investor of animation in Italy, as well as from institutional entities that have begun to recognize the value of animation in facilitating and incentivizing growth. The collaboration with Netflix has enabled us to become an international entity, with the distribution in 190 countries of Zerocalcare’s two series, Tear Along the Dotted Line and This World Can’t Tear Me Down. These series have been extremely successful in Italy and have also been well received internationally. As an overall analysis, I am particularly proud of the fact that, among the hundreds of people who have collaborated with us, many would have had to go abroad to do their work if we had not been able to offer them the

opportunity to work with us. This includes myself and my partner, Davide Rosio.

One of this year’s most notable developments was the introduction of live action, with two productions: Trust & Dare and The Dorothy Effect. Could you please provide us with further details about them?

The two productions were both highly engaging. Regarding Trust & Dare, we believe there is an audience, the so-called tweens, who have grown up with us and our series over

Giorgio Scorza

the years and who have now reached that age group where they start to explore the typical issues of adolescence. We approached these issues in a light-hearted yet not superficial manner. The series has received a positive response since its initial broadcast, with high levels of engagement on social media. We are now in production with the second season. We believe in the value of offering content with an editorial slant, which we achieve through the use of irony and sarcasm. The Dorothy Effect employs the mockumentary format to address a tangible and pressing theme, namely the challenges and dynamics of Italian universities.

We are currently developing other projects, both for children and adults, which explore human relationships from an original perspective. We combine different techniques and work with original IPs, or book-based properties, including comics and videogames, to create a stylistic and narrative continuity.

“This World Can’t Tear Me Down” © Movimenti Production, Bao Publishing “The Dorothy Effect” © Rai Fiction, Movimenti Production, Premio Solinas
“Trust & Dare” © Movimenti Production, Rai Kids

Back to animation. You recently launched Spooky Wolf. What feedback have you received to date?

Spooky Wolf has undoubtedly been an exciting project. It is our own original IP, for which we have invested significant resources and energy, even when our interlocutors were not yet familiar with the kind of surreal and emotional comedy we wanted to build. The first season is performing well on Rai Gulp and RaiPlay, in Italy. Meanwhile, our partners Millimages and KidsMe are engaged in international distribution, and we wish the series would have a sequel. Since its release, it has received very positive feedback, including from overseas insiders who have appreciated both the experimentation with different techniques - 2D on photographic backgrounds and photorealistic 3D - and the approach to comedy genre on which Italians do not have much of a serial tradition. Once again, our aim is to expand our international presence.

At MIFA you will focus on Miniheroes of the Forest, a series co-produced with MoBo and Zodiak Kids & Family. What can you tell us about this production?

We are extremely proud of this brand-new series for a number of reasons. Upon selecting this IP, published by the French Auzou - and in Italy by Gribaudo -, we were immediately drawn to the simplicity and innocence of the adventures, which evoke the beauty and spontaneity of childhood. Miniheroes of the Forest is produced by Movimenti Production and MoBo, in co-production with Zodiak Kids & Family France, like us part of Banijay Kids & Family, which has supported this project. Furthermore, we were honoured to be entrusted by RAI and France Télévisions from the outset, two major national broadcasters joining the production at the development stage. The quality of the CGI animation is of an excellent standard. With the first episodes now complete and the distribution held

“Spooky Wolf” ©Movimenti Production - KidsMe with the participation of RAI Kids
“Super Happy Magic Forest” © Tiger Aspect Kids & Family Limited, Movimenti Production, Zodiak Kids & Family France, Monello Production

by Banijay Kids & Family, we can face the international market with great confidence and optimism.

According to you, which is the current state of European animation, beyond your own projects?

In comparison to a few years ago, European animation is currently experiencing a favourable period, which is also due to the fact that co-productions between different countries have been made easier by various effective local incentives. This enables the creation of co-productions with a truly international scope. We have a long-standing tradition of co-productions with European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Finland and, in particular, France and England. These countries maintain a benchmark role within a certain kind of comedy genre, that we are very interested in. Furthermore, the advent of platforms has brought about the involvement of new stakeholders, with a management of IPs that differs from that of traditional productions. Individual producers from various countries are committed to exploiting rights by diversifying licences. One of the key advantages of working with streamers is the ability to reach an almost global audience at


Format: 52 x 7’, 3D Animation

Genre: Adventure, Comedy

Target group: Preschool

Broadcast Partner: Rai Kids, France


Production Partners: MoBo, co-produced by Zodiak Kids & Family France

International Distribution: Banijay Kids & Family Distribution

Synopsis: Based on the books by French publisher Auzou, Miniheroes of the Forest follows the playtime adventures of four woodland creatures who have mini mega powers. When school is over, they put on their secret costumes and discover what excitement the woods have in store for them.

the same time. This allows the development of creative ideas that support horizontal narrative potential and the exploration of different target audiences. However, following the initial major investment in content by OTTs, the audiovisual market appears to be entering in a new phase of waiting, observation and verification of the current state of the art. Europe continues to produce highly original content, including animated feature films, and maintaining a high level of originality and international recognition. Examples include the Oscar-nominated film Robot Dreams and the animated documentary Flee, which was also nominated for an Oscar in three categories.

Talent scouting has become more and more important to you over time. How crucial is it for the strategic development of your company?

Talent scouting has always been a priority for us, as it is a fundamental aspect of our aim to create assets that set us apart in the market. Movimenti Production was founded by Davide Rosio and myself, two creative professionals with extensive experience in animation and directing. From the outset, our objective has been to foster creativity within the studio by providing a stimulating environment and welcoming new talents. We have consistently worked to diversify our workforce by recruiting individuals with different skill sets, including those with experience in writing for cinema, live action, and video game productions. Over the years, we have created and built training courses in collaboration with several partners, providing skills and know-how both in scriptwriting and storyboarding. We are present at the Italian and international trade events to conduct portfolio reviews of new artists, as well as at workshops and meetings where we can engage with young talents.

What are your future plans?

In addition to Miniheroes of the Forest, we are currently in production with Super Happy Magic Forest, of which we are co-producers with Tiger Aspect. We are about to start a new production, Copperbeak, in partnership with Ideacinema. It will be our inaugural animated feature film and we have commenced a production of a series based on the same IP, which will also have a live-action setting and will be aimed at pre-school target. We are also working on several other titles, which we hope to announce shortly. In the live action sector, we are about to start filming the second season of Trust & Dare. We have several titles in development, the details of which I am unable to disclose currently. However, I can confirm that they fully align with our approach: story first.

“Miniheroes of the Forest” © Movimenti Production, MoBo, Zodiak Kids & Family France

An international animation factory with an Italian touch

Movimenti Production established DogHead to provide a service for their own productions. The company quickly established itself as a leading provider in the market. EAJ interviewed Giovanna Bo, COO & Executive Producer at DogHead Animation.

An Italian animation factory with a strong international presence.

In 2019, Movimenti Production established Doghead Animation with the objective of producing the first season of Topo Gigio entirely in Italy. This initiative aimed to reinvigorate domestic animation production and development. With the establishment of a robust and structured production pipeline, we began offering our services to third-party clients, immediately garnering the interest of companies such as WildBrain Spark, the American platform Vooks, Warner Bros. and Bento Box Entertainment. As the number of projects and productions grew, our team of professionals expanded accordingly, from 35 to over 400 professionals currently working on 5 or 6 serial productions simultaneously. The

journey has been challenging, but also highly rewarding. Our studio is now internationally recognised as an Italian excellence.

What is the focus of your participation to MIFA?

At MIFA, we have a stand and a big attendance of our art directors and talent managers. The objective is twofold: to consolidate our European and international relationships offering our services to producers who require a solid and competitive animation studio; and to recruit new talents in the pre-production and production areas. The objective is to identify and attract those companies who will find a suitable partner in us.

Moving on to international projects, let’s focus on the productions you have been following. Could you provide us with some further details?

Doghead’s projects have consistently demonstrated an upward trajectory in quality, performance, and international visibility. We are pleased to be working on highly successful

Giovanna Bo

IPs such as Mr Bean and Totally Spies!, two flagship brands of the Banijay group, of which Movimenti Production is a part. We are also pleased to have the esteem of major studios such as Warner Bros. confirmed. Following the Bugs Bunny Builder shorts, produced in 2022, Warner Bros. entrusted us with over 24 minutes of animation for the Amazon Prime film Merry Little Batman. Our artists were able to demonstrate their abilities in 2D hand-drawn animation. The collaboration was so successful that Warner Bros. also confirmed us in the production of the Bat-Family series, a spin-off of the film, also for Amazon.

Let’s talk about the latest addition to your portfolio, that is Super Happy Magic Forest

This is a brand-new IP from the group, based on a book series that has been very successful in the UK. As such, we are taking on a significant responsibility, and we are also involved in the pre-production phase. The department, which we inherited from Movimenti Production, is currently engaged with this IP for the first time. For this series of 52 episodes of 11 minutes each, we are responsible for all aspects of production, including storyboards, design and sets, as well as the entire animation process, from rigging to compositing. We are currently halfway through the project and the team is pleased with the progress we have made. The series is intended for an international audience.

You are also environmentally conscious, and you have created a green space in Florence with a minimal environmental impact. Can you tell us more?

From the outset, our operations were based in the beautiful Manifattura Tabacchi complex. However, over the past year, we have relocated to a 1.000sqm space furnished with wooden panels and a plethora of greenery, including trees over 5 metres tall. Our team can also make use of two soundproof wooden cottages, allowing them to conduct calls in complete privacy. Additionally, we have two meeting rooms and a beautiful arena with wooden seating, which we utilise for talks with important guests and training sessions for our collaborators. These include life drawing sessions, 2D animation and rigging workshops, and so forth. The ventilation and lighting systems are also environmentally friendly, including a kitchen with all the necessary facilities and space for recycling. We believe that a healthy and cheerful working environment is conducive to optimal performance. We are glad to see that our employees, who are predominantly in the 25 to 32 age group, share our concern for the environment and support our commitment to sustainability.

“Merry Little Batman” © Warner Bros Animation “Mr Bean” © Tiger Aspect Kids & Family
“Totally Spies!” © Zodiak Kids and Family France

An international studio between tradition and innovation

Always balancing tradition and innovation, Studio Bozzetto will be 65 years old in 2025: what is the secret of its longevity? CEO Pietro Pinetti spoke about their many successes and collaborations.

Founded in 1960 by renowned Oscar-nominated and Golden Bear-winning director and animator Bruno Bozzetto, Studio Bozzetto has built a solid reputation for its ability to develop and produce original projects, collaborating with leading international partners. With offices in Milan and Bergamo, Studio Bozzetto confirms itself as a dynamic and avantgarde force in the animation sector, maintaining a strong commitment to creating content that appeals to international audiences.

Since 2007, Studio Bozzetto has been led by Pietro Pinetti as CEO and Andrea Bozzetto as Creative Director. The studio, one of the most experienced in Europe, consists of directors, animators, 2D/3D artists, illustrators, graphic designers and scriptwriters. It collaborates with brands and companies around the world, to realise original concepts and communication projects using unconventional solutions. Always balancing tradition and innovation, the production company will turn 65 years in 2025 CEO Pietro Pinetti talks about the many successes and partnerships.

What does it mean to you to make animation in Italy today? How does Studio Bozzetto manage to combine tradition and innovation?

Making animation in Italy today means combining a consolidated tradition of excellence and creativity, with a relentless drive towards innovation and internationalisation. Studio Bozzetto is the perfect embodiment of this balance. Carrying on the Bozzetto name requires a constant commitment to keeping alive the values of quality, originality

Tip the Mouse Andrea Bozzetto, Creative Director and Pietro Pinetti, CEO of Studio Bozzetto
Lalla in the Garden

and creativity that have always characterised our productions. At the same time, it is essential to adopt new technologies, explore new expressive languages and have a global vision, in order to compete effectively in international markets. We pride ourselves on creating content that not only respects our heritage, but also captivates a global audience with compelling stories and cutting-edge techniques.

Studio Bozzetto has always been able to create successes at an international level...

In addition to the international critical successes signed by Bruno Bozzetto, Studio Bozzetto is best known for producing the animated TV series Tip the Mouse, based on the bestselling children’s book series by Giunti Editore. The series, which debuted in 2014, has been aired in 160 countries around the world, including China: an astounding success for a 100% Made in Italy product. From here, Tip the Mouse has adapted to the change in media, becoming the protagonist, together with the children’s TV star Carolina Benvenga, of baby dances, a live-action film and the Raccontastorie series: Carolina and Tip the Mouse are a couple with millions and millions of views on YouTube.

We now have Season 1 in distribution and Season 2 in production for The Game Catchers, which we have launched in 2021.

The BBC’s acquisition of the series The Game Catchers is further proof of the company’s international relevance. What is the secret of your success on the international scene? Our secret to success on the international scene is a

combination of several factors. Firstly, we focus on the quality of our productions, making sure that every detail is taken care of. We also work closely with international partners to understand the specific needs of different markets and adapt

Corrado Colleoni, Art Director at Studio Bozzetto Tip the Mouse
The Game Catchers

our content accordingly. We develop universal stories that can appeal to a global audience, while respecting the cultural specifics of each country. This strategy has enabled us to gain international recognition and reach a wide audience.

To be more competitive abroad, in 2017 you created ForFun Media...

With the will to promote the best Italian animation excellence in the world, we have created, together with Movimenti Production, ForFun Media, the first Italian network of animation production companies that includes, besides us, MoBo Digital Factory and DogHead Animation

The synergy between our four companies allows us to take on bigger challenges, access new markets and offer our customers creative and innovative solutions. We firmly believe that working together and pooling our talents is the key to competing effectively and continuing to promote the excellence of Italian animation worldwide.

We are curious to know what new projects you will be presenting at this year’s Annecy Festival. Could you give us a few hints?

We are looking forward to presenting a number of new projects that promise to continue the studio’s tradition of excellence. Go Go Cars (52x12’), designed for children aged 5 to 8, tells of non-motorised car races on downhill tracks with obstacles. Teams customise their cars for each race following themes set by the judges. Then there is Lalla in the Garden, a preschool series (52x6’) that tells of the adventures of the fairy Lalla, in an enchanted world of forests and magical creatures. Finally, Muffa & Goffo, aimed at children aged 4 to 8 (26x5’), features two monsters, Muffa and Goffo, who are trapped in a room and have to solve riddles and puzzles inspired by escape rooms and puzzle games.

“Making animation in Italy today means combining a consolidated tradition of excellence and creativity, with a relentless drive towards innovation and internationalisation. Studio Bozzetto is the perfect embodiment of this balance.”

And what about the film Sapiens, produced by the Studio and directed by Bruno?

We’ve submitted it to numerous festivals, both generalist and animated, around the world, and now it’s up to the jury of each competition to decide... fingers crossed!

What is Studio Bozzetto’s vision for the future?

Over the years, Studio Bozzetto has consolidated its international presence, becoming a benchmark for quality and innovation in the global panorama of animated entertainment. We are always looking for new projects and collaborations to broaden our horizons. Our mission is to keep alive the tradition of excellence that has marked our history from the very beginning, creating content that fascinates and inspires generations of viewers. Studio Bozzetto remains an example of how a passion for animation can be translated into creations that not only respect the past, but also look enthusiastically to the future.

ForFun Media Network
Go Go Cars


2025: a year of celebrations for Cartoon Saloon

2025 is time for celebrations at Cartoon Saloon as the prestigious independent Irish animation studio marks 25 years of successes and remarkable productions. This anniversary is not only a milestone for Cartoon Saloon, but for all the European Animation Industry.

How it all began

The world-renowned Irish animation studio with five Academy Award® and two Golden Globe® nominations and many award wins including BAFTA® and Emmy® took its first steps at an Irish art college where Tomm Moore, Nora Twomey and Paul Young met and began working together. After finishing their studies, they established Cartoon Saloon in 1999 in Tomm’s hometown of Kilkenny. Originally, they were based rent free, sharing a space with a group called Young Irish Filmmakers, that Tomm had been a part of as a teenager, like a youth club for filmmakers. At that time, Tomm was already developing a story which later became the movie The Secret of Kells. Fast forward ten years and this movie was nominated for an Academy Award®, the first of a series of nominations for Cartoon Saloon, and the first step towards a success that continues today.

Although this first nomination was a surprise for the studio, behind the scenes they had built up a following of admirers of their work and art style, many of whom came to work with them at the studio. The passion for the project and the quality standards of the studio came through in the film. This small group of people worked passionately to bring European animation to the United States and through their hard work,

Secret of Kells

NoraTwomey. Photographer: Craig Gibson

the film was released to incredible reviews. That really was the beginning of an endurable and massively enjoyable period for Cartoon Saloon, despite the challenges of independent filmmaking.

The second movie release from the studio was Song of the Sea, financed in 2012, followed by The Breadwinner, the short film Late Afternoon and the final of Tomm Moore’s trilogy WolfWalkers, all of which were nominated for an Academy Award®. Over the years, the animation studio has grown to over 100 people based in their Kilkenny studios.

Integrity and Creativity

Integrity and creativity are two keywords for Cartoon Saloon. As the budgets are limited, a particular issue when independently financing both TV series and feature films, it requires the creatives to continue to be really inventive and passionate in how they tell stories. These high standards feed into every stage of Cartoon Saloon’s operations from the preproduction phase right through to the final visuals audiences see on screen. This hard work pays off when they get to see the audience’s reactions and receive recognition for their work from their peers.

An important philosophy of the studio is to create a nice and fair place to work and that comes from compassion for the people who work there and also for the experience of the final audience. These philosophies run through everything the studio does including their licensing and merchandising department.

In fact, beyond animation, Cartoon Saloon is currently developing a rich L&M programme around their shows, creating licensed products they are very proud of due to being sustainably produced with the highest fair-trade models that are possible today. Cartoon Saloon works very closely with the people creating the merchandise and artwork, which allows for the studio’s philosophy to flow seamlessly through the process.

Tomm Moore

A celebratory year!

2025 is going to be a year of celebration for Cartoon Saloon. The celebrations kicked off in January with the BFI in London. The British Film Institute held a retrospective of the studio’s films, which included, for the first time, a selection of short films produced by Cartoon Saloon over the years, which may not be as well-known as their feature films, but no less important.

Following this event, they have brought those short films around the world to other film festivals, having also had a retrospective at Monstra Festival in Portugal, and at Cornell University in the US, in addition to a number of other events which are planned throughout the year ahead.

At MIFA this year the studio is working to announce a big celebratory events calendar. Annecy has been crucial for Cartoon Saloon from the start, as they gave them the opportunity to show previews and behind the scenes sneak previews of the films over the years. So, for this year there will be a very special screening of WolfWalkers at the festival, a screening that couldn’t take place during its launch during Covid lockdowns and restrictions.

Next productions and launches

Cartoon Saloon has just begun to work on Julián, a new feature film, based on the US book Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love which was brought to Cartoon Saloon by David Yate’s Wychwood Media. It is a co-production with Aircraft Productions from Canada (co-production partner on The

Breadwinner); Luxembourg based Melusine/Studio 352 (coproduction partner on Song of the Sea, The Breadwinner and Wolfwalkers); Denmark Sun Creature studio (producers of the 3-time Oscar nominated Flee). Award-winning Louise Bagnall (Late Afternoon) is making her first venture as a solo feature film director with Julián which will be complete in production at the end of 2025.


The preschool series focused on the theme of family, Silly Sundays, was launched in Ireland last year and in some Latin American countries also. Warner Media is the main broadcast partner, and they expect to launch the series in the UK in September 2024 and in the USA in January 2025.

Puffin Rock has become another pilar within the animation studio’s rich portfolio, as it has been recognised by Forbes as one of the best non-stimulating children’s programmes – which are shows slow-paced with natural colour tones; they don’t use unnatural visual effects such as dancing letters, swirling shapes, flashing colours, or high-contrast backgrounds to hold the child’s attention; they speak in normal voices and use rich vocabulary within natural conversations. The season 1 and 2 of the TV series is broadcast worldwide on Netflix and the movie Puffin Rock & the New Friends premiered in Ireland & UK in 2023 and was launched in the USA last April on Amazon, Apple and Google.

Tomm Moore is working on a new film project which is a codevelopment with long time French partner studio Folivari, teaming up again with Didier Brunner and the team there are have been regular production partners ang longtime friends going back to the Secret of Kells.

Paul Young made his directorial debut with a short film by Lucas Studio, Screecher’s Reach, on air on Disney+. This short is part of Star Wars Visions: Volume 2, an anthology of animated shorts from around the world that celebrates the mythos of Star Wars through unique cultural lenses. In particular, this short won an Emmy Award last January in Los Angeles for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in the category for Production Design.

Kilkenny Animated

Kilkenny Animated is the Animation Festival organised every year in Kilkenny. Next 4-6 October will be the 5th edition of

an event focused on cartoons, animation and illustration in a series of exhibitions, talks, performances, workshops and experiences that celebrate the creativity and craft of the visual image.

The festival is hosted by Cartoon Saloon and award-winning Lighthouse Studios and is set against and inspired by the backdrop of Kilkenny’s medieval streets and slipways at the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. Kilkenny Animated is the first festival of its kind in the world to bring together so many different aspects of visual storytelling for the enjoyment and appreciation of a wider public audience.

No time to lose! It’s time to celebrate Cartoon Saloon!

WolfWalkers projections in Kilkenny city
All the images are courtesy of Cartoon Saloon EDITORIAL 41 FOCUS ON
Cartoon Saloon Studio


Rainbow at Annecy Festival 2024: Showcasing Magic and Innovation

Founded in 1995 in central Italy, Rainbow was born out of Iginio Straffi’ s vision to transform ideas into captivating stories that resonate with audiences globally. Almost 30 years later, this dream continues to expand, fueling creative endeavors and leading to new heights in the entertainment industry worldwide.

Rainbow’s journey began with the Tommy & Oscar edutainment project, but it was the global breakthrough of Winx Club in 2004 that truly put the company on the global map. Winx Club has since become an iconic lifestyle brand, proving the power of compelling storytelling and strategic marketing.

Straffi’s commitment to delivering great stories has allowed Rainbow to develop successful intellectual properties and merchandise licensed products in over 130 countries across various platforms. The creative core of the company has grown significantly, first through the establishment of Rainbow CGI, Italy’s largest 3D animation and VFX production studio for TV and cinema, and through acquiring Canadian Bardel Inc., Emmy Award®-winning CG studio, and Colorado Film, leading film producer in Italy.

Annecy Festival 2024: A Glimpse into the Future

“Rainbow’s presence at the Annecy Festival 2024 underscores our dedication to innovation and excellence in animation. The festival provides an ideal platform to showcase our upcoming projects, offering industry professionals and fans a glimpse into our future projects” says Iginio Straffi

As Rainbow celebrates nearly three decades of storytelling, it remains committed to pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology, in an ongoing pursuit of excellence.

In this page Mermaid Magic

Great Announcement to celebrate 20 Years of Winx Club

The most loved fairies are set to return on screens showcasing a whole new CGI look, rekindling Bloom and her friends’ journey with contemporary storytelling and stunning visual effects, blending cherished themes with modern twists to delight both longtime fans and new audiences.

Rainbow just unveiled the broadcasting partners for this new launch in 2025: Rai in Italy, which has believed in Winx Club since its inception, and Netflix the ideal partner to bring any IP to global audiences.

The series will have an exceptional support from longtime business partners, Giochi Preziosi and Playmates Toys providing for an incredible range of Master Toy collections coming in 2025

The two companies will split global distribution of an all-new collection of fashion dolls, accessories, role play toys and playsets inspired by the new Winx Club series: Giochi Preziosi will manage Europe and the United Kingdom, while Playmates will manage sales, marketing, and distribution in North, Central

and South America, Asia, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, and South Africa.

Rainbow’s ultimate milestone in 2024 is the 20th anniversary of the iconic Winx Club brand. Among many promotional initiatives, most notably the Official 20th Birthday Party in Rimini on August 31st, set to reunite fans from all over the world to celebrate the iconic Brand.

Exciting Projects on the Horizon Rainbow is constantly on the move, and 2024 has a slate of new projects, starting with Mermaid Magic. This new highbudget CGI IP promises to enchant audiences worldwide with its first ten 26-minute episodes coming on Netflix in Q3 2024, created by Iginio Straffi and ready to hit the audience. Mermaid Magic follows the adventures of mermaid princess Merlinda and her friends Sasha and Nerissa as they venture to the surface world to save their underwater kingdom, Mertropia. The series blends style, adventure, magic, mystery, and contemporary values such as ecology and marine protection, all elements that encourage co-watching of the whole family.

Rainbow has introduced Gormiti – The New Era, an all-new live-action series based on the renowned Giochi Preziosi toy brand launched in 2005. Produced in collaboration with Giochi Preziosi, the show will captivate fans with gripping stories, extraordinary special effects, and enchanting Italian locations. Complemented by meticulously designed product lines, Gormiti – The New Era promises to reignite the brand’s massive appeal.

From Mermaid Magic and Gormiti – The New Era to the new Winx Club series, the future of Rainbow promises to be as enchanting and inspiring as ever.



Animoka Studios: Animation, Innovation and Passion

A premier Studio in the heart of Turin with a line-up of international productions. EAJ talked to Valentina Canclini, MD and Producer, and Davide Tromba, CEO and Producer at Animoka, to learn more about their next plans.

Could you provide us with an overview of the history of Animoka Studios? What about the inception of your company and the key milestones in its development?

Animoka Studios was established over fifteen years ago by industry experts with extensive experience in international productions. Over the years, we have experienced significant growth, expanding our team and investing in advanced technologies, along with the development of our creative departments, with a particular attention to visuals and storytelling. One of our most significant achievements was the international success of Pat the Dog, that we co-produced. This success enabled us to showcase our quality work in over 185 countries.

Could you tell us about some of your most significant projects and the awards you have received to date?

We have had the honour of working on several international successful TV series. In addition to Pat the Dog, we coproduced Mumfie, a series that won the Best Preschool Series at the Pulcinella Awards 2022, among other achievements. Besides TV productions, we also keep an eye on short films. In fact, our latest experimental animated short, titled The Righteous, just won the Special Prize for Animation at Nastri d’Argento 2024, right after receiving awards in several countries, including Canada, India and the UK, and it was showcased at the VAEFF at Tribeca in New York.

Davide Tromba and Valentina Canclini

Let’s do an overview of your team. Can you describe us the roles and responsibilities of the various professionals at Animoka Studios in contributing to the company’s success?

The team is the driving force behind the company. Our studio currently employs over 40 qualified professionals, including permanent employees who hold key supervisory roles. Over the years, we have built a strong team of artists and creative talents to support the development and production of our own intellectual properties (IPs). Furthermore, our research and development team comprise engineers who are solely dedicated to developing advanced animation tools and pipelines. The synergy between different creativity and technology is crucial to us for producing high-quality products.

What about the cultural background and work environment at Animoka Studios?

Our team is like a family, and we value diversity, equity, and inclusion. This ensures that everyone feels appreciated and has a voice. We foster a culture of continuous learning and professional growth, which has created a dynamic and innovative atmosphere within the studio. Our collaborative spirit enables team members to share ideas freely and contribute to the creative process.

Let’s talk about the future. What projects are currently in development, and which are your next projects to focus on?

We are currently engaged in the production of Delu From The Jungle, a new television animated series that we are coproducing with Nalu Animation Studio in Paris. This project represents the clou of our accumulated experience and is already generating considerable interest within the industry. Furthermore, we are delighted to announce our forthcoming co-productions with some of the industry’s leading players. We look forward to sharing these new projects in due course.

I would like to thank you for this enlightening interview on the first issue of EAJ. My best wishes to you and your future projects, and congratulations on reaching your 15th anniversary this June!

Thank you! It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to share our story and our passion for animation on this brand-new magazine. We are optimistic about the future and the potential

for creativity that emerging technologies will bring to our industry. In our field, unwavering passion and the ability to innovate are essential. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey!


Format: 26x13’ 3D Animation

Genre: Comedy, Adventure

Production Partner: Nalu Animation

Synopsis: The heroine Delu, bold and vibrant, moves from her cherished jungle to the bustling city of Cityland to attend primary school. She brings her gorilla uncles, cousins, and all her animal puppy friends from the savanna, causing a delightful and heartwarming upheaval in city life. Filled with cheerful vibes, friendship, puppies, and original songs, each episode transports us to Delu’s world full of funny adventures.


Nelly Jelly together with “3Megos” to create a new Comedy Pre-School Series

Nelly Jelly, a Lithuanian IP born from a popular hit kids’ book series boasting a successful licensing programme, joined by 30 partners in its native market, is now going international with a new comedy preschool series in collaboration with British Animation Studio 3Megos.

In the upcoming series, Nelly Jelly is presented as an intelligent, determined, strong-willed 6-year-old girl with a huge imagination, who sometimes simply needs a little help from her monster friends.

“Nelly Jelly is a relatable and loveable character, and its concept is already proven to work. We are not starting from scratch here - we’re starting with an IP that has a track record of people liking the characters, and there is a distinct storyline and a plot,” comments Martin Lowde, co-founder and CEO of 3Megos. “The situations and problems that Nelly Jelly finds herself in are familiar to most children. In addition, her monster friends Jim and Jam are adorable and funny, and children love messy situations that are a part of the plot, especially because Nelly Jelly always finds a positive resolution. The parents will also relate to the learning moments, and, in the end, the series will model good behavior. This is why we believe the series will be loved by kids and their parents around the world.”

Indeed, the world of Nelly Jelly is similar to the world of any kid - she has real friends, pets, family, and real children’s

Martin Lowde

problems. She’s good-hearted and optimistic, she’s also determined and smart, but when trouble hits, it creates a call into the monster world.

“And that’s when the magic happens - her monster friends sense when she’s in trouble and burst onto the scene. Grownups never see her Jim and Jam - only her best friend Mattea and family dog Teejay can. Nevertheless, her parents know all about the monsters, as Nelly Jelly is very open in sharing stories about all of her adventures,” says Martin Lowde.

For example, we find out that Jam is a female monster, loving and protective, with a super-strength power - which she uses without thinking too much of consequences. Jim, on the other hand, is a big monster, who is neat and smart, but not nearly as strong. He is clever in a “book learning” kind of way and considers himself very wise - however, the only book he has is “The Big Monster Book of Humans,” which isn’t always very accurate.

“In the good company of Jim and Jam, Nelly Jelly deals with problems any kid might have - such as the fear of darkness, starting school, or even not wanting to tidy her room. Through the use of her imagination, and with the help of the monsters, Nelly Jelly finds solutions to her problems in the most creative and fun way,” explains Martin Lowde.

Simona Krasauskienė, CEO of NJ World, the company that manages the Kakė Makė (native IP) and Nelly Jelly IPs, says that the new Nelly Jelly series offers a heartwarming, relatable story, with elements of music, fun, surprises, and comedy, making it great for family co-viewing.

“Our IP developing team, experienced and forward-thinking, is collaborating with Emmy and BAFTA Film award-winning animation studio 3Megos: we have united to use our joint expertise in children’s preferences for entertainment and our understanding of the latest trends,” says Simona Krasauskienė.

At this year’s Annecy Festival, Nelly Jelly IP, participating together with “3Megos,” will be ready to share the trailer of the new animated series.

As Martin Lowde explains “First of all, we’re developing for traditional broadcast, and then we will be developing a YouTube strategy alongside it and looking at all of the other SVOD and AVOD channels that can support this series. We predict there will be quite a lot of interest from the producers, so we are getting ready.”

Global trends through children’s entertainment content

The original content of Nelly Jelly IP, number one in its native market, has always reflected on global trends. The IP is now taking a new shape to meet the needs of the current Alpha and the new Beta generations, who are globally-minded content creators and users, vastly oriented towards YouTube, social media and gaming. At the same time, the Nelly Jelly universe keeps on living in books - its original creator, writer and illustrator Lina Žutautė, who started 14 years ago, keeps telling new Nelly Jelly stories for children of every age.

In a world that has become a kids-first world, children become the creators of their reality and want to participate in the process of content creation - and relate to Nelly Jelly, who is also the creator herself of her fantasy world.

Pioneers in the native market

Nelly Jelly is the number #1 children‘s IP in its native region and it is the first one to bring innovative solutions in kids’ entertainment and to work together with the top players in the market to offer top quality through licensed products.

In the home market, made of a population of 2.6M people, 160K of which are children of the target age, original Nelly Jelly (locally known as Kakė Makė) books have a circulation


having played in our local sandbox, and having achieved mega success at home, we know how to get the attention of kids around the world.”

- Simona Krasauskienė -

Simona Krasauskienė

of 15-30,000 versus the 2.000 total run of other books titles. In addition, the IP sells over 2 million licensed products and services annually: the Lithuanian brand “Kakė Makė” has 30 local license partners, including manufacturers across nine categories.

Besides the hit book series, Nelly Jelly has expanded to multiple platforms, including live events, theatre and experiential events. The main publisher of the Nelly Jelly

brand, Alma Littera, continues to publish Nelly Jelly content reflecting some of the major children‘s content international trends, for a total of 25 new titles released every year.

A licensing success story

When it comes to licensing business, the Nelly Jelly local brand is currently experiencing strong momentum in all categories, such as retail partnerships, and collaborations with top manufacturers - who cover not only Lithuania, but also the Baltics and other European markets - and, of course, product development, enabling a 360-degree community engagement model.

Last year the brand signed agreements with 8 new partners and launched nearly 70 new products under the local “Kakė Makė” brand. Last year, the expansion was focused on the Food & Beverages category, which grew by 98%, and entered into new partnerships and 10 new products. Among the new partnerships, there is the innovative brand Leafood company (producing salads grown on a vertical farm).

“These partnerships aims to help children to live authentic experiences,” says Simona Krasauskienė. “They are becoming more and more focused on sustainability, climate change, physical and emotional well-being.”


Iryna Kostyuk and Tetiana Ruban unveil the future of the Mavka franchise

The two executives touched on Mavka’s new series and live-action film and licensing the IP in Ukraine and worldwide.

Mavka: The Forest Song was distributed in 150 countries, dubbed into 32 languages and grossed $21 million worldwide. This unprecedented success turned Mavka into a global hit. With Tetiana Ruban and Iryna Kostyuk, we find out more about the future of the animated franchise deeply rooted in Ukrainian folklore.

I know you’re now working on a series with TeamTo, right? Iryna Kostyuk: Yes, we’re working together on a 3D show. The series will serve as a prequel to the feature, targeting 6-12 children. In each of the 24 episodes, Mavka and her friends, Swampy the Kittyfrog, Hush the Noise Keeper and the Nymphs will go through unexpected, fun and sometimes perilous adventures. While attempting to take care of their home, they explore it and uncover a large number of secrets. We’ll also introduce new characters: the ‘frivolous’ Tumblewind, the new villain Chuhai and a male character, Flameflyer.

Could you touch on the Mavka Dancing Show experience and the Mavka Residence in Kyiv? How did you work on licensing the IP?

Tetiana Ruban: In about two months after the movie’s release in theatres, the Mavka Dancing Show embarked on a tour of Ukraine’s 18 largest cities. It was a live show featuring the same main characters taking part in a new adventure. There were air acrobats, dancers and immersive activities.

The Residence of Mavka opened in one of the major family leisure locations last summer and ran until autumn. It was a themed space with key locations from the movie, where animators set up fun activities for kids. This year, the Residence of Mavka 2.0 is set to open in early June with additional outdoor activities.

As the Dancing Show and Residence of Mavka were important pieces of content for the brand, we worked with Stage Show Company, a division of FILM.UA. Besides, we had a number of licensed space branding and entertainment partnerships. In 2021, our largest retailer Silpo opened a flagship supermarket in Kyiv themed with the Mavka Universe. In 2022, they launched a national Mavka-themed loyalty campaign. Mavka Cake, a themed confectionery café, was launched before the

©Film.UA/Animagrad EDITORIAL 52 FOCUS ON
Mavka. The Forest Song

premiere. Lviv Croissants, a chain of restaurants with 170 bakeries in Ukraine and 11 in Poland, ran a complex restaurant promotion with Mavka for 11 months. The Mavka Themed Waterpark in Bukovel resort in the Ukrainian Carpathian Mountains is set to open this summer. Guests will dive into the IP’s atmosphere through space decorations, themed names, music and mascots. The waterpark spans 18,000m2 and hosts seven pools, eight water slides and a large spa center. On the ground floor of the complex, there’ll be the first Mavka brand store.

What’s next for Mavka and her fans?

Iryna Kostyuk: We’re happy to announce that we’ve started the development of a live-action film, titled Mavka. This project expands our exploration of Ukrainian mythology, presenting a fresh perspective on our beloved character. While the animated film introduced Mavka as the Soul of the Forest and Guardian of its Heart, our live-action film will provide a deeper insight into the origin of the mythological Mavkas, known for their vengeful, mysterious and thrilling nature. However, amidst the eerie portrayal, our film will skillfully balance Mavka’s darker traits with her inherent goodness. And, of course, we won’t overlook the captivating romantic subplot. This new endeavour promises to offer a more mystical experience tailored for a slightly older audience, particularly young adults.

“We’re happy to announce that we’ve started the development of a live-action film”
Mavka Dancing Show ©Film.UA

From comics to animation. A family tradition renewed over time

What could be more exciting than turning a great passion into a career? Well, that happens when a father is able to instil a similar passion in his children and start a cartoon company with them!

This is exactly what Daniele Panebarco, a well-known comic book author, has done. In 1995 he founded Panebarco, a company specialising first in multimedia products and then in 3D projects for cultural heritage.

Over the years, his children, Marianna, Matteo and Camilla, came on board and led the company into animation. Today, Panebarco creates animated commercials, special effects and motion graphics videos, collaborating with communication agencies and production houses. In 2019, the company has


expanded its scope by entering the film and audiovisual sector and developing new IPs.

Recent successes include the short film Caramelle (Sweets) in 2022, which was selected at 70 festivals in 14 different countries, placed in the top five at Nastri d’Argento awards and won 25 awards (including the Pulcinella Prize, the European Film Festival Award and the Audience Award for best animated short at Alice nella Città festival). The short, directed by Matteo Panebarco with the original soundtrack composed by Luciano Titi, is a WeShort Originals, co-produced with Mediterraneo Cinematografica and distributed by Prem1ere Film; supported by Emilia-Romagna Film Commission, Ministry of Culture and the Municipality of Ravenna.

In January 2024, Arf, directed by Simona Cornacchia and Anna Russo, was released in Italian theatres; a delicate film in paperless animation that tackles the subject of war and prison camps from an unusual angle. In fact, the protagonist is a child who, raised in a forest by a golden retriever, believes he is a dog and behaves like one. The film is produced by Genoma in collaboration with Panebarco, Showlab, Margutta Studio and Digitoonz by Emilia-Romagna Film Commission and Ministry of Culture.

Many production challenges are underway. Panebarco is collaborating at the development of Guglielmo the Inventor, an animated TV series inspired by Guglielmo Marconi’s childhood. Produced by POPCult (IT), Animalps (FR) and Krutart (CZ), the project will be pitched at Cartoon Forum 2024. Arf


Last but not least, the studio is developing #NostoppingNora, a 100% Panebarco IP developed with the writers Lyons, Offiler and Nocera and supported by Emilia-Romagna Film Commission and Italian Ministry of Culture. Executive producer is Steve Walsh. Also, on board as partners are Telegael (IE) and Calon TV (UK). The project is looking for a fourth country with a strong partner to take care of the animation and, of course, investors, distributors and broadcasters interested in pre-buy or co-production. Nora is an 11-year-old girl with a passion for computers and new technologies... in fact, she has a real fixation, and her motto is: “I code, therefore I am!”. Like all her peers, when it comes to new technologies, social media and trends in the digital world, Nora knows more than all the boomers on the planet put together, and she is convinced that there is

no problem that cannot be solved with well-written codes. In each episode, this granitic conviction of hers is somehow undermined or completely dismantled. In fact, Nora realises that without the human touch, there is no valid code, no innovation that makes sense.

Marianna Panebarco, the company’s CEO, is available to meet new partners at major markets such as MIFA in Annecy!

If you are curious to learn more about Nora and all the other Panebarcos’ projects, visit

Caramelle (Sweets)


Krešimir Zubčić unpacks Croatian animation, HRT’s content strategy

The executive tells us some insights about his country’s growing market and his bi-weekly magazine programme dedicated to the art of animation.

Ahead of Annecy, we talked to Krešimir Zubčić, Vice-President of the Board of Animafest and editor-buyer for animated shorts and features of HRT For the Croatian pubcaster, Zubčić is also in charge of all foreign kids and youth-orientated programming. During our chat, we touched on the network’s acquisition strategy, its production slate and the importance of international co-productions.

Krešimir Zubčić

& Antoinette ©Diedra/Zagreb Film. Top images Eeva ©Eesti Joonisfilm/Adriatic Animation

How would you describe HRT’s programming strategy and its target audience?

I’ve been working on a magazine programme dedicated to the art of animation for almost twelve years now, which airs every second Monday on our third channel. This gave me the opportunity to choose the best animated films from around the world. The programme covers different themes, and follows trends in animation, so my selection reflects how I’m guided by quality and diversity.

I’m prepping a special episode about this year’s Oscarnominated film Eeva by the talented Croatian-Estonian duo Lucija Mrzljak and Morten Tšinakova. This film was screened at the Berlinale, Animafest Zagreb and Annecy. The Oscar nomination put the film into the spotlight among Croatian viewers.

What kind of content are you looking for?

I’m mostly looking for authentic, bold and artsy animated content, but these aren’t my only criteria. Mainstream or


commissioned films can be equally good. Many animated films for children are little masterpieces. But as the programme is broadcast in the evening, it allows me to present more diverse content.

What are the most successful animated films you’ve broadcast recently?

In February, we aired a retrospective of Oscar-winning animated films. We also showed titles shortlisted and awarded by international festivals. Every now and then, we present animated films by masters such as Paul Driessen, Joanna Quinn or Michael Dudok de Wit. And, of course, my favourite, The Gruffalo!

What are the key markets and festivals you attend?

Besides Animafest Zagreb and Annecy, I’d definitely single out the ones that introduce authors that you can hardly meet at big markets: Clermont Ferrand, Truville-sur-Mer and Aixen-Provence for shorts; and the wonderful Cartoon Forum and Cartoon Movie for series and features. And, one festival is particularly interesting because of its uniqueness – the Puppet Film Festival in Łódź. Moreover, the brand-new Animation Festival Network (AFN) is connecting festivals in the CEE region and I’m very much looking forward to following its development.

Can you elaborate on your relationship with festivals and producers?

Over the years, we’ve managed to establish some wonderful collaborations, and I’ve been able to prove that we, us buyers, are the ones who bring animation to a broader audience. For the most part, people perceive animation as something for children only. But what festivals show are productions of auteurs spanning all genres, which aim to intercept a defined audience. Although artists do not make a profit from the sale of shorts in countries such as Croatia, I believe that showing them in a place with a long-standing tradition of auteur cinema is still rewarding.

How would you judge the current state of Croatian animation?

Croatian animation has a long auteur-driven tradition. Since the inception of the Zagreb School of Animation and Dušan Vukotić’s 1962 Oscar-winning Surrogate, our style and humour are surely recognisable. I’m also happy about the new generation of animators, who represent the future of Croatian animation. Many of them are already very well-known and snagged several awards.

“I’m mostly looking for authentic, bold and artsy animated content, but these aren’t my only criteria”

During each edition of Animafest, we’re delighted by how lively and diverse our domestic production is. Of course, it’s important to invest even more. We’ve excellent educational institutions, but producing is expensive. Therefore, we’re turning to international co-productions and networking [with bodies] such as the AFN.

What about the areas that need improvement?

After a long time, we started producing animated series. There were attempts after the legendary Professor Baltazar, a project that is familiar to animation fans, but what Recircle Studio achieved with Little Who Who and other animated shows gives me hope that it’s possible to do more here. I’m looking forward to the visionary, humorous series Manivald by Zagreb-based, Estonian artist Chintis Lundgren and staged by Adriatic Animation. […] The success of Diedra and Zagreb Film with Cricket & Antoinette is also a positive sign. It shows it’s still possible to assemble a good team and deliver such an ambitious project.

The 2017 short Manivald ©Chintis Lundgreni
Little Who Who ©Recircle Studio


The future of animated features is bright

Ahead of this year’s Cannes’ Marche du Film, the CEO of the Danish sales outfit delved into the three animated features included in their slate – Super Charlie, Caterella and The Polar Bear Prince.

Ahead of the start of this year’s Marché du Film (14-22 May), The European Animation Journal caught up with Susan Wendt, Managing Director of Copenhagen-based sales firm TrustNordisk. We asked her a few questions about the company’s slate of projects and assessed their potential. “Currently, we’ve got three strong animated projects. All of them will be launched locally at the end of this year. We’ll have some footage ready for each of them in our promo-reel in Cannes,” says Wendt.

“If you’ve got some good characters and a solid storyline, it’s still possible to reach a wider market.”

Susan Wendt
Above and Top Image: Super Charlie ©Nordisk Film

“Super Charlie is the animated feature that we’ve shown the most footage of. Since it’s based on the books penned by Camilla Läckberg – who is best known for her crime novels –we’ve got a strong brand to work on. Both the footage and the script have been very well received so far, and have already generated a good number of sales.” The project was pitched at Bordeaux’s Cartoon Movie in March and was sold to the UK, the Baltic countries, Hungary, Romania, former Yugoslavia and Vietnam.

Läckberg developed the idea of a baby sporting superpowers while being pregnant of her third child. The story later turned into a book series that gained huge popularity, and was subsequently translated into several languages. The 3D family-orientated flick, helmed by Jon Holmberg with Oscarnominated animator Karsten Killerich (When Life Departs) and Stine Buhl, is one of the most anticipated animated projects

of 2025.

The team is now putting the final touches, Wendt explains. “There is still quite a bit to do, but everything goes according to our plans. Super Charlie will be ready just ‘minutes’ prior to its Swedish release. Internationally, we will present the finished film including a quality English dub at the European Film Market in Berlin and, if possible, combined with a Generation K screening at the Berlinale.”

Meanwhile, TrustNordisk is pinning its hopes on two more projects. “Caterella is the latest project of our slate. It’s part of a brand-new franchise called Furry Tales, consisting of classic fairy tales with a twist and boasting animal characters. Here, we’re showing a little clip for the first time, and we do have high hopes on this project”, says Wendt, adding how Caterella is the first project made in collaboration with Norway’s Storm Film.

Caterella is billed by the TrustNordisk team as “an offbeat version of the popular folk tale Cinderella.” Here, the titular hero refuses to marry the prince in favour of living a life of freedom and true love which she indeed finds, but with the Princess.

“We’ve got three strong animated projects. All of them will be launched locally at the end of this year”

The feature is directed by Lisa Marie Gamlem from a script penned by Karsten Fullu, Juni Stenebraten and Martin Lund Nordisk Film Distribution will release it in the Nordic countries in November. TrustNordisk already sold the title to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Israel.

The future of the slate’s third animated project, titled The Polar Bear Prince, remains rather uncertain. TrustNordisk labels it as “a tale of friendship, love and greed.”

“It’s a high-quality, 2D animated feature based on one of the most beloved Norwegian folk tales. It’s a beautiful and heartwarming story and we’ve high expectations on it. Although it’s a 2D project made with a budget that is twice larger than that of Super Charlie, buyers want to see more before committing to it.” The Polar Bear Prince is being directed by Mikkel B. Sandemose with character design by Peter de Sève, who is best known for his work on crowd-pleasers such as Tony Bancroft and Barry Cook’s Mulan, the Ice Age series, and Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich’s Finding Nemo. Produced by Maipo Film AS and Nordisk Film, the picture will be released locally towards the end of this year.

Despite the challenging times we live in, “the future of featurelength animation is bright,” says Susan Wendt, pointing out how animation remains strong in most territories. “This is specially the case of 3D animation. If you’ve got some good characters and a solid storyline, it’s still possible to reach a wider market.”

The Polar Bear Prince ©Nordisk Film Caterella ©Storm Film AS Caterella ©Storm Film AS

Benshi’s editorial policy, discovering the best animated films and series for children BENSHI

Speaking to The European Animation Journal, Emma Tirand, Head of Acquisitions at Benshi, unpacks the platform’s catalogue titles, curation and core audiences.

Benshi was founded in 2016 by Paris-based arthouse cinema Le Studio des Ursulines, which focused on programming children’s films. Initially, Benshi was a printed guide for families who wished to find quality films for their children. “In 2017, we launched the first version of our SVOD platform. Since then, our mission has been to provide a diverse catalogue of films for children aged 2-11, providing a precise age recommendation. Both the SVOD platform and the guide coexist today.”

Benshi kicked off with a strong following of dedicated parents. “Ever since our launch we’ve tried to nurture this base, while expanding to other target audiences. Our challenge has been to reach families that might not know what to show their children,” Tirand explains.

The pandemic crisis allowed Benshi to reach a broader audience. “We’ve continued to grow our number of subscribers significantly since 2020, and we hope to continue doing so in the coming years.”

Benshi shines a spotlight on films crafted with more ‘traditional’ techniques as they have proved to perform very well: “We offer many different animation styles, including 2D, 3D and stop-motion. We don’t really have an acquisition policy that favours one animation style over another. Generally, we don’t see our audience neglecting ‘traditional’ animation in favour of CGI.”

Tirand explains that the most popular catalogue titles include universally acclaimed features chosen by the audience, as well as more ‘confidential’ titles varying spanning different animation styles (including 2D, 3D, stop motion, paint-on-glass animation, among others). She adds: “Besides, shorts are very important, because they suit our young audience very well. And, for us, classics are also essential.”

Emma Tirand
The Snail and the Whale ©Magic Light Pictures

Series are also part of the platform’s catalogue. Shows like Pompon Ours or Animanimals are among the most successful: “We notice that they are increasingly sought-after, but we try not to exceed a certain number of episodes, and when possible, we select them ourselves.” And, there’s room for TV specials as well, as the productions by British company Magic LightThe Gruffalo, Room on the Broom, The Snail and the Whale - or by Aardman Animations - Wallace & Gromit - always perform well.

Michael Ocelot’s Azur et Asmar is also part of the Benshi catalogue ©Mac Guff Ligne

“Our goal is to promote a vivid, diverse discovery of films for children”

“All in all, we offer a unique and editorialised catalogue, which reflects the diversity of the current children’s production,” underscores Tirand.

“Our goal is to promote a vivid, diverse discovery of films for children. Our editorial policy stands for unique films that reflect the work and vision of an author. They constitute the ideal film library for families who want to discover new cinema.”

The films are selected by an independent committee made up of specialists in youth-orientated cinema. At the core of the catalogue is the age recommendation, an essential reference which helps parents choosing the right films for their offspring.

Zooming in on Benshi’s partners, Tirand says: “Over the years, we’ve been able to build solid relationships with the major players of the animation industry, such as Folimage, Les Films du Préau, Cinéma Public Films or Dandelooo, to name a few. We’ve been lucky enough to secure deals with these players and accompany the life of their films beyond the theatrical release.”

Benshi aims to intercept children aged 2-11, but its core audience is the 2-6 segment. Speaking of the curation process, Tirand highlights that the selection committee is completely independent from the company: “Each month they propose a selection of 10 new titles. They strive to deliver a balanced mix in terms of target audiences, styles and formats.”

And, of course, these titles follow Benshi’s editorial calendar. They curate their catalogue with new thematic focuses every month. For instance, in May they had a focus on Aardman, the studio behind Wallace & Gromit and Shaun the Sheep Previously, they had a focus on nature, and another one on food.

Snail and the Whale ©Magic Light Pictures

Pompon Ours ©France TV

LevelK focuses on two key animated projects, Checkered Ninja 3 and Mumbo Jumbo

At this year’s Marché du Film, the Danish outfit’s founder and CEO Tine Klint discusses the team’s sales and networking activities in Cannes.

It’s the busiest time of the year for LevelK, one of the key European sales agents. The Frederiksberg-based firm handles “edgy, original films” with great market potential that resonate with international audiences. The European Animation Journal caught up with the outfit’s founder and CEO Tine Klint at this year’s Marché du Film, which ran from May 14-22 on the French Riviera.

“In Cannes, our focus is on networking and meeting with both old and new business partners to cover all our areas of the business, including distribution, production, and financing. We are working on both announced and unannounced projects. For instance, among them is the new instalment of the franchise Checkered Ninja. The third film is currently in production and will be released in Danish cinemas on 21 August 2025,” Klint tells us.

In November 2023, LevelK boarded international sales for the new chapter of the hit franchise, which is being helmed again by Anders Matthesen and Thorbjørn Christoffersen, based on a script penned by Matthesen. The story of Checkered Ninja 3 revolves around Alex, whose interest in Ninjas’ adventures starts to fade, leading him to spend time with his friends instead. This sudden loss of interest saddens Checkered Ninja, who feels overlooked and betrayed, but an unexpected turn of events will bring them closer again. The team promises a story

“Our focus is on networking and meeting with both old and new business partners”

Tine Klint

with many “twists and turns.” The much-anticipated children’s flick is backed by the Danish Film Institute, Nordisk Film Distribution and the Estonian Film Institute. It is produced by Pop Up Production, A. Film Production and Sudoku.

The other exciting animated project that LevelK brought to the Marché is Mumbo Jumbo, a Danish 3D CGI movie directed by Karsten Kiilerich and produced by Anders Mastrup for A. Film Production. Mumbo Jumbo is based on Jakob Martin Strid’s children’s book and follows a lovable elephant who grows to an enormous size overnight. He embarks on a dangerous quest with his three friends to find Baba Yaga, a Slavic ogress who, in a kinder, Westernised revisitation, appears as an old woman who helps the troubled solve their problems. Will she manage to return our protagonist to his original self? We’ll have to wait for the film to hit screens to find out.

Mumbo Jumbo is currently in production, with its release slated for autumn 2025. “In Cannes, we are hosting a private lunch for the distributors that pre-bought the film where they can meet each other and brainstorm ideas together,” Klint reveals.

Earlier this year, LevelK inked key territory deals for Mumbo

Jumbo, a production backed by the Danish Film Institute, Nordisk Film & TV Fond, Den Vestdanske Filmpulje and Nordisk Film Distribution. The film has sparked great interest in the international market and has already been sold to France (via Gebeka Films), the Middle East (Empire Networks Ltd.), Poland (Vivarto), the Benelux countries (Just4Kids bv), Hungary (ADS Service Ltd.), Estonia (Estinfilm), Greece (Rosebud.21 S.A), former Yugoslavia (Demiurg), Bulgaria (Pro Films OOD), and the CIS countries (Silver Box/Russian Report). Further deals are being negotiated.

Finally, we asked Klint to share her take on the main audience and market shifts that have unfolded in recent years. “Generally, there has been a shift, besides the world’s political transformations. We see established distributors that have not previously worked with animation now kicking off dedicated animation labels. There is a strong demand for animation, especially for high-quality 3D films boasting strong storytelling and thought-through positioning.”

“There is a strong demand for animation, especially for high-quality 3D films boasting strong storytelling and thoughtthrough positioning”

Mumbo Jumbo ©LevelK/A. Film Checkered Ninja 2 ©LevelK/A. Film
Checkered Ninja 2 ©LevelK/A. Film

Animation needs Connection

CGWire is the company behind Kitsu, a collaboration platform that helps you efficiently to deliver animated content from anywhere. EAJ interviewed Frank Rousseau, Founder & CEO at CGWire, to find out more.

How did CGWire come about, and what does it do?

As animation productions become more complex and deadlines tighter, teams are becoming more distributed. It has become common for multiple studios to be involved in a project, with a large proportion of the workforce working remotely. While this approach has many benefits, because organizations can join forces to make better movies and access talents from anywhere, it also has a major drawback: communication is much harder.

CGWire’s mission is to foster distributed organization by keeping teams as efficient as if everyone were in the same room. To achieve this goal, we have two activities. We provide software to smoothen the interactions between all stakeholders of the production (i.e. the Kitsu ecosystem). Additionally, we create events and educational content, available on our blog and YouTube channel, to allow people to meet and grow their skills together.

Can you explain how your animation platform Kitsu works?

Kitsu is a web application that connects artists, supervisors, producers, directors and clients. They all have dedicated views designed for their jobs and take advantage of optimized interfaces for their needs.

Frank Rousseau

Producers can plan their projects, create related tasks and send them off. Artists and supervisors know what they need to do and share their progress. Directors can then review all deliveries and provide feedback. Finally, clients validate the content produced and have an overview of the project status.

Each stakeholder gets the right information, can communicate effectively and is clear about expectations. This leads to more efficient teamwork, less waste and more accurate iterations. In the end, we get a much better picture.

Can you name some of the animation studios and schools you have worked with in the past year?

Among the many studios using Kitsu (200 at the time of this interview), I can mention Miyu, winner of the Annecy Cristal for Best Feature Film and the Cannes Palme d’Or for the Best Short Film in 2023, Cube Creative for their outstanding 3D series, and Fost for their high-end 2D TV series. On the school side, we collaborate with institutions like École Georges Méliès, ESRA, or ECV. But we mainly work with Gobelins, the most famous French school, where they have a class dedicated to training people for the Production Manager roles.

Recently, you have also been collaborating with game companies... What kind of feedback have you received from them?

Video game productions are even more distributed than animation productions. Most of the artists are freelancers working from home. As I said, Kitsu is designed to bring creative people together, wherever they are and whatever

organisation they belong to. When video game studios scale up and need efficient collaborative tools and a proper library of deliveries, Kitsu is the obvious choice. They prefer a userfriendly approach. Now, they want to push things further by integrating more with Jira, the project manager used by tech teams, and finding more ways to link creative assets to code.

What are your next plans?

Studios are satisfied with Kitsu’s ability to build their movies, but are asking for more forecasting tools. So, over the next 12 months, we will be working on budget management, advanced scheduling, and carbon tracking features. Then, in 2026, we’ll push innovation further by providing artists with a dedicated platform that they will use throughout their careers. Through it, they will be able to manage their work, their invoicing, and their relationships with studios. However, we will remain agile and let the Kitsu community influence our plans.

Besides Annecy, which events are you planning to attend in the coming months?

The main events we have in mind are SIGGRAPH Asia in Tokyo next December and GDC in San Francisco in March 2025, where we will be exhibitors. We will also be attending RADI/RAF in Angoulême and the Blender Conference in Amsterdam as visitors. On our side, we expect to organize meetups around pipeline and production management during the last quarter of 2024.

Kitsu playlist of the film “Wing It!” by Blender Studio


Pikkukala unveils editorial strategy, new challenges ahead

The CEO and Producer Pablo Jordi talks through his team’s rich slate, the studio’s market strategies and its core values.

For The European Animation Journal, Pablo Jordi elaborates on leading animation and digital entertainment studio Pikkukala’s distinctive creative approach involving transmedia tools and its business strategies.

Pikkukala is based in Helsinki and Barcelona. How does your editorial strategy put together the characteristics of these two cultural extremes?

Our identity is decidedly European and we believe that the cultural diversity of our continent is a unique richness we should explore. Nordic and Southern European audiences are different yet we’ve got a lot in common. Our productions always affirm the humanistic values of respect and curiosity for the world around us, which are shared by audiences across the continent. We’re also defined by our original and

Pablo Jordi
Taste Buddies ©Pikkukala

thoughtful aesthetics, aiming to deliver genuine and positive stories on screen.

The children and family audiences you’re targeting are broad but also demanding. Do you have a specific tactic to win them over?

We believe in genuine, unconventional stories that provide a positive view of the world. We try to find our audience wherever they are. That’s why we develop TV, film, mobile apps and Roblox experiences while using social media to keep in touch with our audience. I must highlight that the complicity of the broadcasters who have accompanied us and have believed in our projects has been key to the success of our latest series.

What are your main criteria when when it comes to choosing a project to work on?

At Pikkukala, we combine the production of series and films from our own IPs with co-productions with other companies with whom we share values concerning the way of understanding animation.

When it comes to creating our own projects, we’re exploring the universes created by Veronica Lassenius – Royals Next Door, Saari, Taste Buddies, and Fungi. We’ve also kicked off an internal talent development programme to help emerging talent create and direct new projects.

What would you consider Pikkukala’s greatest strength, and what is the most challenging side of working in this industry?

Our strength lies in our approach, which prioritises creativity above all else while keeping an international and transmedia focus. On the other hand, the animation industry can be difficult for independent producers. When the economy shrinks, demand for original content gets reduced in favour of safer investments such as sequels and remakes. Financing animation projects is always tricky.

Your latest project, Samuel, is a coming-of-age, 2D minimalist production, which focuses on the emotional life of

“Our strength lies in our approach, which prioritises creativity above all else, while keeping an international and transmedia focus”

the characters. Somehow, it follows some sort of ‘back-tothe-basics’ philosophy while being innovative and targeting social media…

You’re right! Emilie Tronche’s Samuel has the rare quality of being deeply personal and genuine and, at the same time, it fits perfectly into social networks. The series was originally conceived for digital media including Instagram, TikTok and YouTube Shorts, and only later turned into a linear TV project. The basic imagery, its spontaneity, the funny stories inspired by the writer-director’s own childhood, and the role of music and dance touched the sensibility of many people. The secret of its success is that we managed to keep that authenticity and let the author express herself in a serial production environment. Arte, 3Cat, and Clan TV channels made a bold bet on the project, contributing to its remarkable online success: we achieved 25 million views on Arte networks in just two months.

What’s next?

We’re half way with the pre-production of Taste Buddies, the world’s first animated show dedicated to flavours starring five little characters who represent tastes and experience funny adventures.

We’re also preparing the second season of Royals Next Door, and a feature film in which we will see Stella and her family returning to the palace! On top of that, we’re developing a Royals Next Door Roblox experience. Another project in development we’re very excited about is Saari & Friends, a 3D reboot of our first series. On the co-production side, I’d highlight Sébastien Laudenbach’s Love Is a Gypsy Child – A Carmen Story, co-produced with Folivari and an original spinoff of the titular Georges Bizet opera. As you can see, we don’t get bored.

Royals Next Door ©Pikkukala Samuel ©Pikkukala
Taste Buddies ©Pikkukala


Honouring Laika’s story

Laika, Brave Dog is one of the latest works from Studio Pandora. This animated short, currently touring festivals with distributor Wasia, tells the harsh story of Laika, the first living being to travel into space.

Moscow, 1957: Sputnik II, the first satellite in history to carry a living being, Laika, is about to be launched into space. This internationally known and relevant story is now further commemorated by Studio Pandora’s new work, Laika, Brave Dog. It is an intense short film (8’) with 2D and 3D animation technique, directed by Francesco Catarinolo, that makes us reflect on the pairings progress - sacrifice and humanitybestiality, represented by unbridled ambition and competition in the space race.

From the moment Laika, a three-year-old dog, is picked up and locked up, she begins to confuse destiny with dreams,

«I think that this story is sadly topical, and I feel the need to share with the audience a reflection on the binomial humanity/ bestiality, where the latter is represented in the film by the character of Commander Khruschev, who wants to transcend the role of the Russian hierarch to become a symbol of unbridled ambition and competition.»

- Francesco Catarinolo -

hoping desperately to be chosen for the mission. Space is her dream, but she doesn’t know that it will cost her life... The only comfort among the many gloved hands that hunt her is Dr. Adyla, a strong and sensitive woman who has cared for her since her capture. Adyla works in the military research centre and divides her life between duty to her beloved Russia and the son Dimitri. The most bestial side of mankind is represented by Commander Khrushchev: he has to show the world who he is and what the Soviet Union is capable of.

Laika, Brave Dog is supported by Film Commission Torino Piemonte and distributed by Wasia. The film was recently in competition at the Animayo - Qualifying Festival Oscar Academy Award-, and has been selected to participate in 64th Zlìn Film Festival.



Talents from Portugal. David Doutel, Vasco Sá

Portugal is gaining recognition in the animation world, celebrating 100 years of Portuguese animation and spotlighting a new generation of animators. This year, Portugal is the Guest Country at the Annecy Festival, providing a platform to showcase these emerging talents.

Among them are David Doutel and Vasco Sá, award-winning directors with over 15 years of experience and four animated short films to their credit. They co-founded the BAP Animation Studio in Porto and are currently developing their first animated feature film, Una. We met them at the 42nd Bergamo Film Meeting.

How do you feel about being part of a new important chapter in the history of Portuguese animation? Do you feel a sense of responsibility?

David: We don’t necessarily feel a responsibility but are flabbergasted to be included in this new generation of young authors. We are part of a collective that has started something significant, an outcome of the past decade’s efforts, thanks

to the early 2000s schools in Portugal where older authors taught. This education created a new generation passionate about animation, including us. We enjoy working together and supporting each other in this small, tight-knit community.

The previous generation of Portuguese animators, like Abi Fejo and Régina Pessoa, were self-taught artisans. Your generation benefited from formal education. How has this transition affected you? This also allowed you to get to know each other, going to school together.

David: School was crucial for us, providing a space to discover and develop our passion for animation. We studied Sound and Image at the University, where we found animation among various subjects and met each other. Schools teach techniques, but more importantly, they foster a passion for the artisanal work, a trait we share with the previous generation. We maintained an author culture rather than shifting to an industrial one, thanks to the legacy passed down from our predecessors.

How did you become authors and start working together? Vasco: We discovered animation and developed a project in school. Two years later, we worked professionally on a film by our teacher, Pedro Serrazina (Olhos Do Farol, 2010) filmed in Lisbon. We then pursued our own project, which we were fortunate to finance and create. Returning to Porto, we started

David Doutel Vasco Sá

a new chapter, collaborating and helping each other make films. Our first film marked the beginning of BAP Studio, and we’ve continued to create and bring people together.

Since then, you’ve produced many successful short films. How do you balance your roles in your collaborations?

David: Our process is entirely shared. Finding someone to collaborate with so deeply and for so long is a matter of luck. We’ve made four short films and are now working on a feature film together, maintaining our friendship and desire to create more.

Vasco: Sharing ideas and ensuring mutual understanding validates our concepts. It’s a collaborative effort that strengthens our projects.

Your films exhibit a balance between craftsmanship and technology. How do you achieve this?

David: We especially like that there is a presence of the gesture. Real hands doing things. All our films are hand-drawn. The first ones were still on paper. Then we used tablets. But it’s drawing the same. There are computers that somehow make it a bit simpler. But for us it’s really important that there is some organic feel. And that it’s not just an artificial construction.

Vasco: We think of the film as a whole, choosing techniques that best serve our ideas. If computers help realize our vision, we use them.

What inspires your short films? How do you balance setting, character and emotion?

David: Inspiration often starts with a small idea, like in our last short film Garrano (2022). The intention of working with fire it was just a very small idea. In Portugal, summer forest fires are a significant issue. From this idea, we develop, discuss, research, draw and explore. Sometimes the setting inspires the characters, other times it’s the opposite.

Vasco: Previous films also started with a single image, such as the boat in Agouro (Augur, 2018) or the train journeys in Fuligem (Soot, 2014). Our first film, O Sapateiro (The Shoemaker, 2011), was inspired by autumn’s colors and atmosphere. Each project evolves from a unique spark, balancing various elements as they develop. The same will be true for our first feature film, Una


O Sapateiro


2024 New TV series and seasons

A host of new TV shows have been announced recently, as well as new seasons of already successful series. Let’s find out about some of them.

Among the new series, the only animated history of pop music of its kind, Behind the Beats by TeamTO (26 x 5’), debuted on France Télévisions in 2023. Rai launched the series in Italy in February 2024, with KIKA (Germany) to follow in the following months. It is an animated documentary for families that tells the stories of how talented musicians with incredibly different styles came together, revealing the oftenunexpected origins of new musical genres. such as New Wave, Rock’n’Roll, G-Funk, Reggae, Electro Pop and Trap. The series is officially presented at the 2024 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, as part of the TV and Commissioned Films Official Selection.

Superprod Group and Vivement Lundi! have announced the production of Harrison and me (52 x 11’), a 2D animated comedy for 5-8 year olds, directed by Jean Duval and Abdelraouf Zaidi. Based on the books series The Zero Waste family, it recounts the adventures of Harrison, an organic and vegetal being who arrives at the home of Charlie (6 and 1⁄2) , her brother Zach (11) and their friends Bintou (11) and Léon (6). By welcoming and caring for Harrison, the gang of friends

Tunda & Onyx. Top Image: Harrison and me Behind the Beats

discover how to act for the planet in their everyday lives as children. Superights is responsible for international sales of the series worldwide.

Tunda  &  Onyx, the new children’s series for ages 7+, features two fun-loving Jamaican puppies: Tunda, a privileged puppy, and Onyx, a street-savvy dog. Together, they embark on magical missions across Jamaica, affectionately known as The Rock. This series revitalises the talking puppy genre, combining high-intensity adventures with a glimpse into unique island customs and traditions like Jamaican patois, authentic reggae music, and engaging storylines. Tunda & Onyx portrays the Jamaican culture to the world in the most positive light. As well as providing entertainment for people of all backgrounds, the series presents a platform for the education of children. Producers are Sabrina K. Marshall, Debbie Stephens, and Juha Fiilin

Speaking of new seasons, three years after the great success of the first season, the much-loved adventures of the animated worldwide pre-school series, Nina & Olga, are back with 52 unreleased episodes, already available on RaiPlay and Rai Yoyo.

The second season is produced by Enanimation and for the first time co-produced by the Australian company Kreiworks, with the collaboration of Rai Kids, and was conceived by Enanimation, Kreiworks and Nicoletta Costa, a famous children’s author and illustrator with over 600 illustrated books published in Italy and around the world and the series’ artistic director. The popular series, which has also spawned a universe of merchandising, sees for the second season the arrival of new characters - the little breeze Eddie and the little star Orion -, greater interaction between the worlds of heaven and earth, and a focus on awareness, incorporating social themes like environment, inclusion, and girls’ empowerment.

Millimages, one of the oldest independent animation studios and IP developers in Europe, announced the launch of a second season (20 x 14’) for its maverick Molang YouTuber series. A distinguishing feature of the six seasons of the Molang TV series was that the characters were dialogue-free, only conversing in their own made-up language “Molanguese”, while the first Youtuber season was in Molanguese subtitled in English. By contrast, the upcoming Molang YouTuber season 2 will launch in English, broadening the existing target audience and increasing storyline opportunities. The first episode of season 2 aired on Molang’s dedicated channel the first week of June 2024.

SINE LEGE FILM attends MIFA 2024 with the brand new season 2 of Rookie Robot Explores the World (52 x 3’).

Rookie Robot is a high-quality educational preschool program produced by SINE LEGE FILM in cooperation with LEISS Postproduction in Vienna, Austria. What makes Rookie so special and relatable for children is the fact that both, characters and stories, are developed from original kids’ drawings and ideas, with amazing music and sounds, without dialogue or spoken words.

Director and Producer Josef Pallwein-Prettner, CEO of SINE LEGE FILM, stated: “Our distributor, Meta Media, is thrilled with the new season and is looking forward to showing it to new buyers at Annecy. We are planning to launch toys and print products as well as educational games both online and analogue. And for all of that, we are looking for ambitious partners who are interested in further international development together with us”.

Nina & Olga Rookie Robot Explores the World
Molang YouTuber

90s nostalgia takes centre stage in Annecy-bound Pelikan Blue

Fine artist and occasional filmmaker László Csáki helmed Hungary’s first-ever animated feature, a story zooming in on the travels and the adventures of three friends set in the early 1990s.

The European Animation Journal chatted to László Csáki, director of Pelikan Blue. Csáki’s debut is Hungary’s first-ever animated feature. After celebrating its world premiere at Tallinn last November, the picture is being showcased in the Contrechamp strand of this year’s Annecy. The story unfolds in early 1990s Hungary, at a time when travel was possible but still unaffordable. By forging international train tickets, three friends helped an entire generation to experience the outside world.

How did the idea for Pelikan Blue come about? How was it being part of Hungarian youth in the late 80s and early 90s? For my generation, it was really great to be a youngster back then. We felt really free, and everyone wanted to take part in this freedom, enjoy new opportunities. We wanted to explore and ‘exploit’ new things. And, at the time I used forged train tickets myself to travel to Western Europe.

How did you pick just three of them out of the many you

interviewed during your research period? Are the three protags based on real people?

They’re absolutely real people, and I found them through the guy who was selling me the forged tickets back in the 90s. All the other characters are also real, as we got inspired by speaking to people who used to work for public authorities and railway workers. My personal story isn’t included in this film, though.

Why did you choose to make this film as an animated documentary instead of going more ‘conventional’? You probably had enough interviews, research material and archive footage…

I chose animation because it provided a certain artistic

László Csáki

freedom that archives and research materials cannot really depict. We also chose it owing to the sensitivity of the topic, as not all of the participants wanted to expose themselves. Moreover, certain topics are somehow ‘attracted’ by certain forms, so I think the animated documentary [format] fits best with the theme of travelling across Europe on forged tickets.

You didn’t stick to one particular animation technique but you mixed them, adding some ‘snippets’ of live action. Could you elaborate on this choice?

As the film is quite hybrid, I didn’t want to use a homogeneous animation [style] or technique to tell its story. With the fake archives shot on Super8, I wanted to show the physical reality of objects back in the 90s. By doing so, it was easier to give the film a certain documentary ‘feel.’ In the courtroom trial scene, we used the paper-cut, stop-motion animation, which is inspired by the trials depicted in the US newspapers… Somehow, I wanted to involve the audience in a little exercise of visual story-telling.

“I used forged train tickets myself to travel to Western Europe”

And, there are some direct references to filmmakers and fiction film genres…

The horror/thriller-like sequence was a very obvious choice for the train scene [ed. in it, a traveller freaks out after seeing dreaded a French ticket inspector nicknamed “The Clown”]. We wanted to pay homage to Hitchcock and his suspenseful atmospheres. We also used some moments from 1990s music videos such as Beastie Boys’ Sabotage for the house search scene. And, Jiri Menzel’s homage is there because he died during production, so I wanted to make a tribute to this great filmmaker. Besides, both Menzel’s film [Closely Watched Trains, 1966] and ours depict history through the eyes of common people.

What about the greatest challenge you faced during the production process?

The biggest challenge was to find the right form of reenactment and to cast the best voice-over actors for it. The young voices of our protags had to match the older ones. Gabriella Ságodi, who is a speech technique teacher working for a film academy, helped us sorting this, serving as the voice casting director.

“I wanted to involve the audience in a little exercise of visual storytelling”

You included tracks from real Hungarian bands from late 80s and early 90s, and later your score shifts towards electronic music. Does it mimic the way music taste changed over the period of transition years?

Yes! Those were our hits and they appear in the film at the exact time when they were released. So we move away from garage rock, punk and grunge to veer towards drum n’ bass –which isn’t exactly ‘modern’ music, but it’s something closer to contemporary alt music. Among others, there’s a hit by Sexepil titled Eroding Europe. Back in 1994, that was the first Hungarian song whose music clip aired on MTV.


Behind the scenes of Flow, the hidden gem of this year’s Cannes Film Festival

Gints Zilbalodis speaks about his latest effort, a Latvian-French-Belgian co-production which bowed in the Un Certain Regard section of this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Gints Zilbalodis’ animated feature Flow follows a group of animals who find shelter on a boat after a great flood destroys civilisation. The picture, now taking part in the main competion of Annecy, bowed in the Un Certain Regard strand of the Cannes Film Festival. Previously, only one Latvian feature had been screened at the Croisette – Laila Pakalniņa’s The Shoe in 1998.

We sat down with Zilbalodis to dig deep into his creative process, his personal development as animator and the pros of shaping stories without dialogue.

Could you tell us about the process of creating this threatened world, whose dreamy landscapes make you forget about danger?

It all starts with the flood. Since our protag is a cat, it just

“I’ve never had any dialogue in my films, because my strength lies in telling stories visually”

Gints Zilbalodis

makes sense for it to be afraid of water. I didn’t want the world to be too threatening, because that’d be too boring. We do see the outcome of a catastrophe, but there’re many different places we visit, and we see these environments in a way we’re not used to.

Flow is a loose adaptation of my 2012 short Aqua. This time, however, the focus is on the group dynamic. Here, we see a character who is used to be very independent and alone, but now has to work with others and accept their presence. The conflict comes naturally but we didn’t want to have any antagonists. The different animals trigger conflicts, but in a way they’re all relatable.

You’re not showing anthropomorphic animals. You let them be animals and react the way animals do. Our animators watched a lot of videos online. Luckily, there’s a huge library of references! I wanted to look at real animals and use their real sounds, not those made by people. It felt natural

“Ideas and emotions are important, no matter how you chose to express them”

What’s been the greatest challenge you faced?

I guess the scriptwriting [phase], because we had many limitations and no dialogue. We had to come up with ways to convey ideas and turn them into actions. I wrote many drafts until we locked this version. It was also difficult to manage the team. I used to work alone, and this time I had more than 50 people on board. It’s been a new experience. When I had an idea while I was work alone, I didn’t need to explain anything to anyone. I could just make it. Now, I had to find ways to communicate my ideas but, eventually, I managed.

and right to do it that way. Also, it was important to craft a very immersive environment, adding almost a documentary feel to the movie. It feels like there’s a real person holding the camera and reacting to what’s happening. Sometimes, animated films can feel too distant, too cold and too ‘precise,’ so we wanted to keep some imperfections.

In what ways using Blender helped crafting your film?

We used it to create everything, since the movie had to be in 3D. We were trying to make the film’s ‘optically rich,’ but at the same time visually pleasant and with no frills. That’s the great thing of animation; everything is deliberate.

How do you see your development as an animator since your first 2010 short Rush?

I found my own technique slowly by making a bunch of shorts, and I probably won’t do a hand-drawn animation again. The reason I switched to 3D is because I’m interested in moving the camera around and making these very long takes without any editing. I’d just create the environment in 3D and explore it like a DoP, and look around to find ideas. In a way, it’s a more spontaneous approach, closer to live-action filmmaking.

There is one recurring choice in your films, and that’s the absence of dialogue.

I’ve never had any dialogue in my films, because my strength lies in telling stories visually. I made a film about a character stranded alone on an island so that he doesn’t need to speak with anyone. This time, it’s all about animals. My favourite films are the ones that are ‘visually driven.’

How does it feel like being the only animation director in Un Certain Regard?

It shouldn’t make a difference if it’s an animated work or not, if the film is shot analogue or digitally. It’s just a matter of techniques. Ideas and emotions are important, no matter how you chose to express them. I think that Flow is a pretty unique film, and that people will be surprised by it. It’s an experience, but also an adventure. It may be appealing for critics, artists and cinephiles alike. There’s just one animated film out of the 20 movies in Un Certain Regard, and this happens only every five years. It’s a big honour.



Living Large, a universal story of friendship and selfacceptance

Producer Matěj Chlupáček breaks down on the making of Kristina Dufková’s coming-ofage feature, premiering in the Contrechamp strand of Annecy.

Ahead of Annecy, we caught up with producer Matěj Chlupáček, who talked us through the making of Living Large, Kristina Dufková’s coming-of-age feature premiering in the Contrechamp strand of the gathering.

The story follows 12-year-old Ben, a budding chef from a divorced family, who struggles with obesity. Motivated by his crush on Klara and supported by his family and his friend Erik, he starts a diet, ultimately regaining his zest for life and mending his friendships.

How did the idea come about?

Our director came up with the idea to adapt Mikaël Ollivier’s La vie, en gros after reading it to her young daughter back in the days. Her daughter is now 21 and the film is finally done, after 12 years in the making. For us, it’s a universal story of friendship and self-acceptance, which also depicts themes that are becoming prominent today, such as obesity and

finding a healthy lifestyle.

How would you describe your film’s style?

It’s a combination of stop-motion puppet animation - the real world in our story - and 2D, which depicts Ben’s fears and depression. We wanted to differentiate these two worlds by using different techniques. Through the latter, the viewers will explore Ben’s inner world, entering his head.

What challenges did you face?

Crafting the puppets and their ‘magnetic’ mouths was surely one of the challenges we faced, as Kristina insisted on having a perfect lip-sync and delivering the right emotions with each character. We also struggled with money, as our film was made on a €2.5 million budget, so planning the whole shooting schedule and stick to the resources we had was very hard, yet possible. In this sense, I must acknowledge the great efforts put by my line producer Jiří Holan and unit manager Lenka Dvořáková

How did you split tasks with your co-producers?

It was developed and shot here in the Czech Republic with Slovak talents boarding the project. In France, we were creating all the 2D animation, Ben’s inner world. The French co-producer also provided one of the top animators. We handled sound post-production in the Czech Republic and visual post-production in Slovakia. But apart from the technical split [and deciding] where to do what, Kristina and the three of us producing spoke ‘equally’ about creative aspects.



Università Cattolica. A school that dialogues with the industry

Screenwriting is an indispensable foundation of any audiovisual work and has become a discipline that is increasingly at the centre of attention and cultural debate within the industry.

The growing demand for exportable original content and the increasingly complex processes of audiovisual production have highlighted two main requirements: firstly, productivity and, secondly, the International perspective that authors must develop from their training years.

For this reason, the MISP - Master in International Screenwriting and Production, taught fully in English - was born in Milan in 2016 from the long and successful experience of a previous Master in Screenwriting and Production of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan, that was partly in Italian.

The mission of the course, which selects fortytwo students among an average of 150/200 applications, is precise: if talent remains an indispensable prerequisite, the university must teach how to apply it to a daily job that requires an in-depth knowledge of the market, production processes, needs of broadcasters and audiences. And it must do so with a constant awareness of the International trends. This is why the Master’s programme encourages encounters between teachers and students from an increasing number of

countries, including the USA.

It is no coincidence that Armando Fumagalli, founder and director of MISP - and a firm believer in animation as a pillar of the European audiovisual industry - wanted to include specific training courses dedicated to the art of animating images right from the beginning. Thanks to the collaboration with European animation excellences such as Movimenti Production, Studio Bozzetto, Showlab, Lynx Multimedia, Calon and Rigotz Stories, the Master’s faculty includes professionals involved in the creation, production and distribution of animated films and series. In this way, the students are trained in direct contact with key players in the industry, with the result that in recent years many MISP graduates have entered the audiovisual market as scriptwriters on highly successful productions,


both in live action and animation. From the next edition, which starts on 24 September, the time devoted to animation will increase, given the growing importance of the sector and its openness to new talents.

Professionalism and internationalism are also the hallmarks of the two-year Master’s degree in The Art and Industry of Narration: from Literature to Cinema and Tv. The search for new IPs capable of generating lasting success in film and television has long looked to literature as a reservoir of ideas. This is why a programme has been designed, which, thanks to the University’s solid literary and linguistic tradition,

combines literary roots and semiological analysis, together with the study of the most recent trends in the audiovisual market. Since its first edition in 2020, the course has included the teaching of writing and producing for animation, demonstrating the centrality of animation in the University’s educational project. Both this Master and the MISP signed an agreement with CartoonItalia, the Italian association of animation producers, at the end of 2023.

Investing in high-quality training is the best way to face an increasingly demanding market. The Università Cattolica of Milan is ready to accept this challenge.



Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf, a comprehensive educational offer

The Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF, the oldest and largest film school in Germany, was one of the leading animation schools at the last FMX - Film Media & Exchange in Stuttgart. EAJ met with Professors Felix Gönnert (BFA/MFA Animation) and Rico Dober (BFA VPX/VP) to learn more about the school’s educational offerings.

What career opportunities do the BFA Animation and MFA Animation Directing programmes offer?

Felix Gönnert: The aim of the Bachelor of Arts in Animation is to acquire and understand the holistic basis for the realisation of artistic animated films. At the end of the programme, each student completes an independent animation project and the coursework exercises form the basis for a professional (online) portfolio.

The Master’s degree programme in Animation Directing offers students a targeted specialisation that prepares them for leading positions in the animation industry and enables them to successfully realise complex animation projects. Our graduates find their way to animation studios in Germany and abroad as animators, directors, storyboard artists or become founders of studios such as Lumatic, monströös. Talking Animals.

How is the Bachelor’s degree programme in VFX/VP structured?

Rico Dober: The bachelor’s degree programme in Visual Effects & Virtual Productions, which will start in the coming winter semester, is an eight-semester course with a highly interdisciplinary structure, including other areas of film production such as photography, scenography and animation.

Felix Gönnert. Top Image:The Virtual Production Project XVI-TOWER

The artistic aspect is very important to us, which is why topics such as image design and aesthetics are also dealt with intensively in the first semesters.

At the centre of each semester is the Artistic Practice module, where students can apply what they have learned. The 6th semester is a project semester, during which students can do an internship in a company, realise their own project, or spend a semester abroad.

What qualities and talents do your ideal students have? Do they work mainly in Germany/Europe after graduation, or also worldwide?

Felix Gönnert: The Bachelor’s degree programme in Animation at the Film University Babelsberg appeals to diverse target groups of aspiring animation artists: graduates of

For further info

high schools/art and design schools, career changers, international students.

The target groups of the Master’s degree programme in Animation Directing include both aspiring animation filmmakers and experienced animators who wish to expand their directing skills, and have completed at least one animation project in a significant role.

Graduates of the BFA Animation and MFA Animation Directing programmes work worldwide after graduation, with a strong focus on Berlin.

Rico Dober: Above all, our ideal students should enjoy creating beautiful images, and have a desire to express themselves creatively. Ideally, they have already gained some experience in the field of computer graphics and visual effects: initial experiments with 3D modelling, or using game engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity are very helpful.

There are many job opportunities in a very international industry: large VFX studios are located in Germany, England, North America, Canada, India and New Zealand.

Have your students’ works ever dealt with social issues? If so, which ones?

Felix Gönnert: Our students deal with a variety of social issues in both their artistic-practical and theoretical final theses. A selection of graduation films can be viewed here: masterstudiengaenge/animationsregie/projekte

Rico Dober

Discover the European Animation at MIFA 2024

As every year, animation studios from all over world will showcase their latest productions and projects at MIFA in Annecy from 11 to 14 June 2024. In this article some highlights from Europe.

MIAM! animation (France) is crafting the enchanting series

The Tinies (52 x 12’ + 52 x 3’) in coproduction with the Belgian partners Panique! and Lunanime. This dual-format animation series is a preschool comedy sitcom produced by MIAM! studio in real-time 3D, showcasing toys that have built themselves an entire town in an attic, using recycled daily packaging; and a series of tutorials mingling real-time, stop motion, and 2D animation so that they can learn to reproduce at home the DIY crafts they’ve seen in the series. The premiere episode is slated for delivery in October at MIPCOM.

MIAM! distribution is thrilled to bring to MIFA Our Summer of Freedom (6x26’) which is in competition at the Annecy Festival. Produced by Darjeeling in coproduction with Panique! and Lunanime, the series through the adventure of four children in Algiers in 1955, deals with topics like cohabitation among different communities, social justice, and intergenerational dialogue.

As a pioneering digital-first animation studio with a global presence, Amuse Animation strategically operates from Paris, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, and Beijing. The studio excels in Our Summer of Freedom © Darjeeling/Panique!


developing original digital-first intellectual properties; recently, they completed Habro’s first digital-first series, Odd-Paws Vet. Their extensive portfolio includes over 30 self-funded preschool properties, available in more than 25 languages, with billions of cumulative views enhanced by educational apps and immersive audiobooks.

Building on the success of their digital-first series like Super Truck and Increditales, they are excited to announce new premium developments. Super Truck premium, an extended format of Super Truck, now features 11-minute episodes designed for 3-5-year-olds. With elevated dialogues and a rich, immersive universe, the series offers diverse storytelling and high emotional engagement. Similarly, Red Friendship Tales premium, originally Increditales, now presents 22-minute episodes. This series explores Red’s adventures at Incredischool, blending school life with magical adventures. The premium versions target longer viewing times and deeper engagement, suitable for platforms supporting extended story arcs.

In collaboration with Emilio Aragon’s Estudio Caribe, they are producing season 2 of the digital-first series Miliki Family, which has enjoyed significant success on YouTube and is available on platforms such as Amazon, Rakuten and TubiTv.

Sardinha em Lata (Portugal) participates in Annecy’s official selection with Alice’s Diary, a 2D TV short (4’). The movie offers a magical and funny insight into the very individual thoughts

Hidden Pigeon Company to develop new animated series based on Mo Willems characters

Annecy is also the perfect place to discover the latest novelties in international animation. Hidden Pigeon Company (HPC) was founded in early 2023 in Los Angeles by celebrated children’s book author Mo Willems along with Stampede Ventures and RedBird Capital Partners, as a multiplatform kids and family content company building on award-winning author/ illustrator Mo Willems’ popular character brands. HPC is extending its unique IPs to a broader audience for kids and ‘former kids’ across multiple platforms and is developing and creating  new series based on Willems’ wildly popular and award-winning  characters and stories. New shows for preschool+  audiences focus on the hilarious and hard work of best-friending with an original CG Elephant and Piggie series, and HPC will tap into Willems’ sophisticated humor and heart with animated series and features based on The Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, Unlimited Squirrels, and more!

Dark Woods Sardinha em Lata presents at Annecy Alice’s Diary (above image) and Speransa (p.78, top image)
Mo Willems shooting an episode of Snack Doodles

of Alice, a quirky and highly imaginative little girl who tries to understand the world through her own art, recording her opinions in a notebook.

At MIFA Pitches it will be possible to get to learn more about the project Speransa, a 2D feature film (90’), in puppet technique. It tells the story of Speransa, a courageous nineyear-old girl from a tabanka (village) in current Guinea-Bissau. In the middle of the 16th century, the newly built fort of Cacheu was strategic for the slave trade of the Portuguese crown. After failed negotiations and in the face of resistance from her people, the village where the girl lives is attacked. Taken from her family, Speransa is christened “Esperança” and forced to board a ship. During the voyage on the high seas, and in the face of inhumane conditions, the brave girl joins the other enslaved people in a revolt, fighting for survival and freedom.

From the south of Portugal to the global stage, Fly Moustache is a newly formed 2D animation studio dedicated to providing animation production services for series, films and advertising. Dark Woods stands as their inaugural IP, intricately developed in-house. The stunning artwork and storyboard were crafted by Marta Ribeiro “ASA,” animation by Rafael Jesus, editing and compositing by Tiago Pimenta, with

direction led by the founder, João Carrilho.

A father, his daughter and their furry companion move from the big city to a haunting countryside to start a new life. As the daughter grapples with the fear and longing of such a big change, she is haunted by mysterious creatures in the dark woods. She will push the limits of her courage and imagination to uncover the secrets of the enchanted forest and learn to cope with her feelings.

Qvisten Animation (Norway) presents Nightling, a new largeformat movie (75’) created under the direction of cartoonist Lise Myhre. It is an adventurous fairy tale for the whole family, where the Tooth Fairy is an outsider in the magical fairyland. When she makes a mistake and puts the whole fairyland in danger, she sets off on a journey to right her wrongs and save the fairyland. To succeed, she must accept herself as different and face her fears. Production will begin in May 2025.

Qvisten is also proud to unveil the eagerly awaited second feature of the Captain Sabertooth trilogy, Captain Sabertooth and the Countess of Gral (75’), directed by Rasmus A. Sivertsen, Yaprak Morali, and Are Austnes. Qvisten released the first animated film  Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond  in 2019,   inspired by the iconic Norwegian theatre plays of  Kaptein Sabeltann. Currently in production, the second chapter will be released in Q2/2025.

Derengo (Hungary) is bringing to Annecy its flagship project Fruitloopery, an animated steampunk-monster-comedy series inspired by the beautiful victorian Europe, and campy old horror movies.

Ms. Maxie B. Flanagan is an ambitious young woman aspiring to be a veterinary surgeon. However, her world, including the prestigious Breslin-Ridley University of Natural Science, is less supportive of her dreams. So in an attempt to discourage her they send her to the clinic of the local “crazy” scientist and paranormal investigator, Dr Arley Drennan Berry.

But what Maxie doesn’t know yet, is that Arley’s research has entangled him in a investigation of a dangerous supernatural virus, that seems to be spreading rapidly.

The series (3 seasons with a total of 30 episodes of 22’), full of funny scenes, is targeted at young adults, mostly dealing with themes of finding your place while not fitting anywhere, dealing with the expectations of adult life and coming to terms with its reality without losing your passion and empathy.

Captain Sabertooth and the Countess of Gral © Qvisten Animation

Les Femmes s’Animent hosts a collective workshop for Annecy 2024

A workshop on collective intelligence organised by the association Les Femmes s’Animent & the think tank Le Lab Femmes de Cinéma, takes place as part of the Annecy International Animation Festival on 10 June.

The French association Les Femmes s’Animent, in partnership with Le Lab Femmes de Cinéma, recognized as Europe’s most active think tanks on parity and gender diversity in the film and audiovisual industries, is organizing a collective intelligence workshop at the heart of the Annecy Festival.

The workshop will be held on 10 June, from 2 to 6 pm at the Impérial Palace - Salle Haendel.

The theme is “The place of professional women in animation in Europe: diagnosis of where we are today and the elaboration of common actions to be taken together”

This crucial topic will be discussed together with representatives from various European associations, in the hope of creating common actions that can advance women in our industry across Europe.

Participants will play an active role in exchanging ideas with each other to find ways of tackling this vital industry issue. The aim of this workshop is twofold: to create strong links between European women’s animation associations and to identify ideas for inter-association action at a European level to collectively change the face of the European animation industry.

The workshop will be attended by around 50 participants, including members of European associations working for parity and gender diversity in the industry, as well as industry stakeholders interested in these issues.

EAJ with its girls’ dream team will be present at the events organised by Les Femmes s’Animent in Annecy!

About Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA)

Created in 2015, the French association Women Animate/ Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA) works to promote and secure equality and opportunities for women in the animation industry. They are committed to erasing sexist stereotypes, both in their studios and in content creation. The LFA believes that grassroots initiatives in the industry will promote inclusion and diversity. For several years, LFA has been supporting both professional and emerging female animation talent to achieve their respective career goals in creative, technical, production or distribution. Corinne Kouper, Eléanor Coleman, Delphine Nicolini, Marine Tuloup and others have founded and run the association. For further info:

Les Femmes s’Animent au MipTv 2023


Five projects under the spotlight at this year’s Animation Day

The features, now in post, seek sales, distributors and festivals; three of them involve French partners.

The 2024 Animation Day was held at Cannes’ Marché du film on 19 May. The event, set up by Annecy in partnership with German Films, hosted the much-anticipated Animation Showcase, followed by several talks and networking opportunities for the industry participants in attendance. The showcase included five animated feature projects, going through various stages of post-production. The first, The Conference of the Birds, is a co-production between France and Luxembourg led by Diabolo Films, Mondex & Cie and Bidibul Productions. Helmed by Atiq Rahimi and Caroline Piochon, the premise sees the birds living in harmony in a paradise forest. When a disaster hits their home, Hod-Hod, an adventurous young hoopoe, embarks with her friends on a quest to find the legendary king of the birds: Simorgh, the only one who can help them.

Curiously, birds take centre stage again in Cynthia Fernandez Trejo’s The Language of Birds, a presentation by Mexico’s Cine Bandada. In it, Natalia, a bird-loving girl, moves to a new town with a deep mystery: the children have disappeared and the adults have forgotten about them.

Coming up next is Phuong Mai Nguyen’s In Waves. Staged by France’s Silex Film and Belgium’s Panique!, it zooms in on AJ,


The Animation Showcase, held each year during Cannes’ Marché du Film, includes a curated selection of some of the most promising animated projects in the works. The creative teams behind each project attend the pitching session and present their concepts in front of a packed audience of sales agents, distributors and festival programmers

a shy teenager, who meets Kristen while in high school in Los Angeles. They fall in love and, as life seems to finally come together for AJ, Kristen’s life starts falling apart, shattered by illness.

Yoshitoshi Shinomiya’s A New Dawn follows three young people who overcome extreme weather conditions, disasters and environmental problems imposed on them and establish their own identities. The picture is co-produced by Japan’s Asmik Ace and France’s Miyu.

Finally, Estefanía Piñeres’ Mu-Ki-Ra, is set in a land haunted by monsters made of vegetation. Cleo will face her worst nightmare when her brother Martín is devoured by one. With the help of Iolo, a magical old lady, she will go to the jungle to the titular monster who took Martín, in order to perform a ritual to bring her brother back. Mu-Ki-Ra is produced by Colombia’s  Letrario and Spain’s Abano Producions.

Mu-Ki-Ra ©Letrario/Abano Productions


Young Horizons Industry, the international co-production forum for films and series for kids and youth

Young Horizons Industry is the international co-production forum and meeting hub for film professionals passionate about making films and series for young audiences. This event is cofinanced by the Polish Film Institute and Creative Europe MEDIA.

Young Horizons Industry takes place annually in Warsaw as a part of the Young Horizons International Film Festival. The goal of this forum is to help creators connecting with potential partners. By bringing together projects and industry players, they facilitate professionals to exchange ideas and build new partnerships.

Every year, over 300 international guests come to Warsaw for a three-day event. Among them there are experts representing companies such as Canal+ Poland, TVN/Warner Bros. Discovery, Netflix, Disney, Viacom, RAI Kids, Polsat, BBC, Global Screen, DeAPlaneta, Blue Zoo Animation, Attraction Distribution, Gebeka Films, KiKA, Ketnet, and many others. Circa 20 projects are selected to pitching sections, titled InDevelopment and Work-in-Progress. Among the projects to be pitched there are different formats, as film and tv series, live-action, animation, documentary, transmedia; and for many targets represented, such as preschoolers, kids, teens, and young adults. All pitching sessions are followed by Q&A with industry experts. The aim is to help creators to learn more about the plus and minus of their project and its potential development.

Beyond pitching sessions, there are also Market Presentations screenings which highlight nearly finished projects seeking for distributors, broadcasters and festivals.

To maximise the attendance of international professionals, 1to1 meetings are organised as well. Each guest has access to an online platform where he can request a meeting prior to the event, as well as during the event.

Whereas the project presentations and matchmakings

are the main pillars of this event, the forum always begins with a conference day, packed of panels and case studies. The conference allows attendees to discover new trends, get inspired and exchange experiences with like-minded professionals. The programme focuses on local and international case studies from Europe and CEE countries. Producers and screenwriters are also welcome to book a script or marketing consultancy with experts as well as receiving some tips on green friendly filming.

For the 2024 edition, the organisers are working on some panels to talk about licensing within the media industry, publishing, A.I., and broadcasting related to kids’ movies.

Young Horizons Industry is not only a place for established creators. During the event, in fact, there are some initiatives devoted to emerging producers and young talents, to help them to extend their network.


When: 30 September to 2 October 2024 Where: Warsaw (Poland) and online To register: Go to https://industry.

Registrations open July 1



Linking animation with licensing

The link between licensing and animation is obvious, and Brand Licensing Europe in London is the place to discover all the possible interactions between these two for licensing.

According to Licensing International (the global trade association for licensing professionals) the entertainment/ character sector alone covers approximately 41% of the brands developed in the licensing world. This includes IPs that are in some way related to the animation world.

There are many examples in this magazine of how properties closely linked to the world of animation are developing their ancillary rights through licensing. In addition, animation is still considered one of the most important mediums for any IP, whether from publishing or games, to further expand its target audience, its recognition and thus its opportunities for any further development. Like animation, licensing is a highly creative market.

Among the many events that help to understand these mechanisms and how these two industries are so closely linked, we would like to spotlight on Brand Licensing Europe (BLE) (24-26 September, London), organised by Informa Markets’ Global Licensing Group. This show is the main European event for all those involved in licensing and for  all professionals who want to discover the latest trends in product development; understand what each target audience

loves most and, above all, study the tools needed to operate in the consumer products  industry.

At BLE, you can discover the wealth of products and experiences that can be created around animated properties, find out how to engage your audience and understand how to match content to different product categories and across different media. BLE is not only an event for those already familiar with the industry, but also for those who want to discover it, offering a rich educational conference programme, show-floor tours and brand directory to familiarise you with the industry.

BM, publisher of The European Animation Journal and Licensing Magazine, is a Media Partner of BLE. We look forward to exploring and sharing with our readers and followers the many opportunities for interaction between these two colourful worlds in September!

To learn more, visit







home to the Animation Industry

The city of Stuttgart experienced a busy week from 23-28 April 2024 thanks to the 31st International Festival of Animated Film (ITFS), while Film & Media Exchange (FMX), one of the world’s most important conferences for animation, effects, interactive and immersive media, also took place from 23-26 April.

The new ITFS management duo Annegret Richter and Heike Mozer proclaimed a festival of short distances, with the city centre transformed into a creative meeting place, thanks to festival cinemas, free open-air events, the GameZone and the new Festival Centre (over 250 visitors each day). More than 500 industry guests attended the festival, an increase of 25 per cent on previous years, with 40 per cent coming from abroad.

The event kicked off on 23 April with the Opening Ceremony, where the first seven films in the International Competition were screened. Among them, Mee and Burd (UK) won the ITFS Audience Award. On the following days, out of a total of 138 short and feature films, the Grand Prix Award was won by 27 (France-Hungary), while in the kids’ category, the Award for the Best Animated Children’s film went to #doudouchallenge, and the audience’s favourite to The Mystery of Missing Socks.

For four days, FMX - Film & Media Exchange, according to its motto, provided a space at the Haus der Wirtschaft for Connecting Ideas with 271 speakers, more than 3650 participants, spectacular presentations, intensive workshops and lively networking. On the first and second floors, it was possible to meet several animation schools and companies. Many sessions on Animation, Visual Effects, interactive and immersive media, AI, were packed, and long lines formed for presentations like The Sound of Dune 2

Common themes shared by FMX and ITFS were the work of women in the animation industry, and a focus on Ireland, with a cinematic offer complemented by a wide-ranging programme with artist talks, workshops, panels and much more.

In 2025, the 33rd ITFS is planned for 6-11 May, and the 29th edition of FMX will take place from 6-9 May

Below Image: 27. Top Image: The Mystery of Missing Socks



The central role of Cartoon Media for the European animation industry

Cartoon Media is behind the organisation of the most important events addressed to the European animation industry.

From TV series to animated films, from young talents scouting to insights into the future of the industry. Throughout the year, Cartoon Media organises five must-attend events to stay at the forefront of a particularly demanding and fast-changing industry. Each event is designed to meet a very specific business need.

Cartoon Forum (16-19 September, Toulouse) celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. It is not only famous for its legendary karaoke, but also for its figures: 985 TV series financed with a total budget of 3.57 billion euros; 38% of them are co-productions between at least two countries and 30% are distributed in more than 10 countries; and 40% of the projects were financed. Every year Cartoon Forum welcomes more than 1000 participants from 40 countries, 260 buyers and around 80 projects

Cartoon Movie (4-6 March 2025, Bordeaux) highlights the richness of European animated cinema: 55 projects are presented to more than 900 professionals from 35 countries. To date, thanks to this event, 476 films have been financed for a total of 3.14 billion euros. The event dedicated to young talents, Cartoon Springboard (29-31 October, Madrid), turns the 10th edition this year. It gives a voice to a new generation of artists. Of the 214 projects submitted to date, 13 have been completed and more than 60 are either in development or in production. This means that over 34% of the projects submitted have moved


And, not to forget the Masters, organised to address the main issues of interest to the animation industry. Held in Brussels (Cartoon Business, 18-20 November 2024) and Marseille (Cartoon Next, 23-25 April 2025), respectively, they cover all the topics on which you need to be up to date to have all the necessary tools to face the challenges of this period.

BM, with its publications Licensing Magazine and The European Animation Journal, is proud to be a Media Partner of the Cartoon Media events.

To find out more about Cartoon Media events, visit

Images are courtesy of Cartoon Media EDITORIAL 97 EVENTS


The cradle of children’s content

A research by Ampere Analysis (pp. 100-101 of this issue) explains how the connection between audiovisual and publishing is becoming increasingly important for the animation industry. The Bologna Children’s Book Fair is the main global event where this dialogue takes place.

The Bologna Children’s Book Fair (BCBF) has always been the world’s leading event for finding the next publishing IP to turn into audiovisual content, or the publisher partner to bring animation original stories to paper. With +1,500 exhibitors and more than 31,000 trade visitors from over 100 countries, this fair is perhaps the most transmedia trade event, if it’s possible to use that term for an exhibition event, that exists in the b2b event offering to date. Indeed, the BCBF is first and foremost a place to: scout for content; discover new trends - not only in publishing -; link creativity and business. Above all, it is the place where an IP often comes to life.

Bologna is the place where characters such as Smurfs, Miffy, Peanuts, Moomin, Pippi Longstocking, Clifford, Barbapapa,

Gruffalo, Asterix come from - and the list could go on and on. In response to the growing demand, in 2024 the BCBF launched a business area entirely devoted to audiovisual producers wishing to develop business opportunities with publishers: the TV/Film Rights Centre. It was developed in the Licensing Pavilion of the Fair - creating a large subsidiary rights centre at the heart of the event - and offered registered companies not only a space where they could schedule their meetings, but also a matchmaking service to network audiovisual producers with publishers. In fact, more than 350 meetings were organised last April between publishers/ literature/comics agents and production companies such as Netflix, Mediatoon, Gaumont, Movimenti Production,, Lucky Red, Fabula Pictures, Fabrique d’Images, TG Entertainment and many others. Following the success of the first edition, the 2025 edition is set to be even richer and more intense.

Want to find your next publishing partner or book-based IP in Bologna? Write to to find out more!


From books to screen: facts and figures

To mark the launch of the brand new TV/Film Rights Centre at the last Bologna Children’s Book Fair, several conferences during the International Kids Licensing Days were dedicated to book-to-screen adaptations. Here is an interview with Olivia Deane, Senior Analyst, Ampere Analysis, who chaired a panel on some figures and trends in audiovisual development inspired by children’s books.

What is the role of book-based IPs in today’s turbulent children’s media market?

One of the most important changes in the media landscape between 2018 and now is that streaming growth has stalled. As SVoD commissioners accounted for the 232% of growth in the entire media market between 2018 and 2023, this has had a direct impact on the volume of new commissions being announced. The volume of commissions announced in 2023 dropped by 13% compared to the previous year, with children’s titles being among the most affected. These challenges mean that creating content based on ideas that have already proven popular is more important than ever.

This is particularly clear in terms of Children’s book adaptations, where titles based on existing literature have proved more robust than titles based on original ideas. The volume of Children’s book-adaptations announced declined by 9% between 2022 and 2023, compared with an 17% decline in all Children’s commissions over the same period.

How do childrens’ preferences are affecting content acquisition and commissioning?

At Ampere we ask consumers about their motivations for subscribing to a streaming service, our survey includes

questions about price, content, and viewing habits. Unfortunately, the question that the least respondents related to was one about children. Only 15% of SVoD consumers in 2023 signed up for a service because it had content that


their children like to watch. This means that in a time when subscriber growth is stalling, Children’s content is simply not a priority for streamers.

However, Ampere’s consumer data also shows that subscribers who live in households with children are less likely to churn than consumers with no children. This means that while companies have reduced their commissioning budgets for children’s content, they are acquiring more children’s content for their platforms in favour of Original content in order to appease this important consumer group.

What excellent opportunities are currently being offered to IP owners by public broadcasters? And what other opportunities could they take advantage of?

Public broadcasters, and in particular those in Western Europe, were the only commissioner type to increase their volume of children’s book adaptations between 2022 and

2023, providing the most consistent opportunities for those looking to sell Children’s book IP. However, those who can find alternative funding models for Original content, for example a self-funded production company, will be able to take advantage of the active acquisition market.


A brilliant child, Tom Gates

TG Entertainment (TGE) creates audiovisual content and has managed for the last eight years the brand and licensing rights for The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, based on Liz Pichon’s bestselling book series for children aged 6-12, published by Scholastic.

Tom Gates is a boy who takes us into a world full of friends, family, mischief, music, creativity... and lots of doodling!

The Tom Gates books are written and illustrated by Liz Pichon, a top 5 UK illustrator (TCM 2020) and top 15 children’s author in the UK, Books are published in the UK by Scholastic, and have been translated into 47 languages and sold over 16.5 million copies worldwide. Liza has won over 25 awards.The huge success of the 21 books has led TG Entertainment to create a cross-media brand with broad gender-neutral appeal across the 6-12 age range.

After being brought to life in a play in 2019, Tom is starring in his own exciting TV show, The Brilliant World of Tom Gates, now in its third series. The forth season is currently under discussion with SkyKids. With 60 episodes and two long form specials, this awardwinning show has everything that fans know and love about the bestselling book series, plus the chance to ‘meet’ author Liz Pichon, who shows children how to draw and create just like Tom. Designed to appeal to all ages, this original mixedmedia series is interwoven with live-action crafts and drawing, stop-motion games and music videos.

Through its global distributor WildBrain, the tv series are broadcast in European territories such as Portugal and Spain, as well as Africa, USA & Canada, MENA and Pakistan, China, Australia and many more.

Over 400 clips are available on the dedicated YouTube channel with a global reach. Discussions are under way for a potential

“For the TV show, we developed the visual style of the books, which are black and white, but with colourful covers. We took that colour palette and also inspiration from pop art to create a visual style that would work for television and normal cartoons.”

- Ken Anderson, Co-Founder of TG Entertainment -

feature film and further live entertainment options. The Halloween and Christmas TV specials are broadcast every year on Sky and across the distributed territories.

The success of Tom Gates is also reflected in the excellent brand development across CP, Digital & Social, Live Events, Gaming and the many retail activations and creative collaborations. Licensing partners include University Games, Tonies, Poetic Brands, Winning Moves, Moonpig, Woodmansterne.

Liz Pichon
Tom Gates Book of Everything by Liz Pichon. Published by Scholastic

The role of artificial intelligence in the creation of IPs

What is generative AI and what role does it play in the creative process? How does it fit into the chain of editorial and TV content rights? Following her dedicated conference at the International Kids Licensing Days during the last Bologna Licensing Fair/Kids, Francesca Perri, Partner at Tonucci & Partners law firm, spoke on some aspects of this evolving topic.

How can we define Generative Artificial Intelligence and what applications have you analysed in your research?

Generative Artificial Intelligence (Gen AI) is a type of artificial intelligence that uses machine learning techniques to generate or create new data that are similar, but not identical, to existing data. These models can learn to create new data by analysing patterns in large data sets (big data) and using this information to generate new examples that are similar in style or content.

In this way, Gen AI machine learning is able to autonomously realise creative and innovative content based on algorithmic programming provided by the programmer and then processed autonomously by the AI system, independent of human input.

I have analysed ChatGPT, launched on 30.11.2022, is a powerful and versatile natural language processing tool that uses advanced machine learning algorithms to generate human-like responses within speech. This Gen AI model has been designed as an artificial conversational system capable of conducting conversations in a natural and convincing

Francesca Perri, Partner at Tonucci & Partners

manner. Midjourney is also a Generative Artificial Intelligence programme that generates images from natural language descriptions called prompts.

What is the AI act and what do you think will be the new frontiers of copyright?

Last March, the European Parliament approved a text that is likely to become final in the coming weeks. The European legislator decided to create a law on artificial intelligence based on the principle of accountability and transparency. There are AI systems and practices that are expressly forbidden and there are high-risk AI technologies that must have mandatory requirements which consistency will be controlled through procedures by institutional entities. Then, for other AI systems are required only transparency obligations. Finally, for general purpose AI models, only the harmonisation rules for placing them on the market have to be complied with. Any use of copyright protected content through Gen AI requires the authorisation of the rightsholder concerned unless relevant copyright exceptions and limitations apply. If we think about general-purpose models, in particular large generative models, which are capable of generating text, images, and other content, present unique innovation opportunities but are also challenges to artists, authors, and other creators and the way their creative content

About Francesca Perri

As a lawyer at Tonucci & Partners, partner in the Intellectual Property, Information Technology & Internet Law and Cultural Heritage Department, Francesca Perri is interested in all legal issues related to the above areas of expertise. She specialises in the protection of intellectual property rights, with a particular focus on media and entertainment law and the law relating to artificial intelligence and new technologies.

is created, distributed, used and consumed.

The big challenge will be the implementation and grounding of an effectively operational balance between the development and training of such models and other data and copyright protection.



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Why The European Animation Journal is different and its added values:

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