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Unifrance (corporate)

04 January 2021 à 15:46

French Animation on the International Scene no. 2: Winter 2020

Editorial

This winter newsletter is an opportunity to take stock of 2020, but also to try to positively anticipate 2021, whose contours are still uncertain.
The world of animation, like the rest of our cinema, has been put to the test this year, with promotion and release strategies very much affected by the ongoing public health crisis. An encouraging sign is that the fall was very beneficial in terms of the number of awards for French animated films, both short and long—this newsletter lists more than a hundred selections and fifty-seven awards for French animated films since the end of September, including Best European Animated Feature Film awarded to Josep at the EFAs. It also shows that animation has been the driving force behind the box-office success of French films in territories where theaters have remained open, with many successes, given the context—notably Bigfoot Family and Yakari. Once again, animation has positioned itself as a dynamic segment of French film art, recognized around the world, which must be fully highlighted in these difficult times.

Other good news, UniFrance's publication of its report "French Films at the International Box Office in 2019" reminds us, albeit against the odds, that French animation registered a very good performance last year. Minuscule - Mandibles from Far Away and Astérix: The Secret of the Magic Potion were among the top five French films at the foreign box office. In the short film category, animation took over from fiction in terms of revenues, while maintaining its leadership in sales volume; it was also central to new modes of cinematic expression and represented 80% of virtual reality works' annual revenues in 2019.

It is for this reason, in this very special year, that UniFrance wishes to reaffirm its support for French animated films: our commitment has already been strengthened and specific support tools are being developed. We will be there in 2021 to support professionals during what promises to be an expected but complex recovery: a bottleneck of releases in the most promising release slots, increased competition with titles from American animation studios, the growing importance of platforms... Uncertainty still persists at the end of the year, but we hope, like the rest of the profession, that 2021 will return to its pre-crisis state. The films currently in production, which are expected for festivals in the first half of the year, give us every reason to believe this. May you enjoy reading this newsletter.

Daniela Elstner and Axel Scoffier,
Executive Director and Deputy Managing Director of UniFrance

Prizes awarded at animation events in recent months

The months of October, November, and December 2020 saw a large number of prizes awarded to French films at international animation festivals, for both short and feature-length films:

Ottawa International Animation Festival
 Three French works were honored this year: Best Animation for Young Audiences: Pre-School went to Shooom's Odyssey by Julien Bisaro, Jo Goes Hunting - Careful by Alice Saey received the award for Best Commissioned Animation, while Dislocation by Velijko and Milivoj Popović won the Ed Films Award for Best Virtual Reality Animation.

Animafest Zagreb
The prize list this year included two French titles: Symbiosis by Nadja Andrasev  received the award for Best First Film, and Pulsión (Drive) by Pedro Casavecchia received a Special Mention from the Competition jury.

Animatou
Forty-two short films represented France during the 2020 edition. Nine of them received thirteen awards, including the Grand Prix Animatou awarded to Tie, a Portuguese/French coproduction. The full awards list can be found on Animatou's website.

CINEKID
During the festival's latest edition, Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Canary by Rémi Chayé was honored with the Cinekid Lion for Best Children's Film.

Bucheon International Animation Festival (BIAF)
 The famous Korean festival put French creation in the spotlight in its awards list for its 2020 edition, which wrapped on October 27. In addition to the Jury Prize and the COCOMICS Music Prize awarded to Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Canary by Rémi Chayé, six animated shorts were honored:

Cardiff Animation Festival
The CAF, a meeting place for independent animators, new talent, industry professionals, and fans of the genre, aims to showcase the best of British and international animation for adults and young audiences. Eleven French films represented France this year and, among them, two featured in the prize list:

DOK Leipzig
 Among the French works awarded this year, the Silver Dove in the "Golden Section" Competition for the Audience Award Short Documentary and Animated Film went to Step Into the River by Weijia Ma. (photo)

Cinanima
For its 2020 edition, the Portuguese festival gave prominence to France: Florence Miailhe was a member of the International Short Film Competition jury, Marie-Christine Courtès a member of the International Student Film Competition jury, and Louise Mercadier participated in the Feature Film Competition jury.

As for the selections, fifteen works represented France: nine in the international competition and six others in the international competition for student films. Out of competition, a plethora of French works were screened in special programs

Lastly, three French works appeared in the prize list of this year's edition: The Shoreline by Sophie Racine (Special Jury Prize), Tie by Alexandra Ramires (António Gaio Award), and Sweet Madness, Hard Madness by Marine Laclotte (Best Film Award: Animation Documentary) (photo below).

 

Anim'est Bucharest International Animation Festival

Anim’est is the only festival in Romania dedicated to animated film. Since 2006, it annually gathers films from all over the world in six competitive categories and numerous retrospectives. It pays particular attention to films from studios and film schools, musical films and VR works. The French selection for 2020 included no less than fifty-three titles, five of which were included in the awards list:

Festival du film d'animation de Séoul - Sicaf
 Since its beginnings in 1995, the SICAF has been hosting cartoons and animations and has gradually, to broaden its horizons, opened up to content such as games, characters, theme parks, new Internet media, and interactive art. It is recognized as the only Asian festival and one of the five best festivals in the world bringing together art, technology, and industry. Out of the fifteen French productions selected in 2020, two were awarded prizes:

And also...

  • Cartoon 360, a professional event dedicated to pitching animated transmedia projects was held online from 17 to 19 November. Among a dozen projects, three were French: Dordogne, presented by Umanimation and Un Je Ne Sais Quoi (short film and VR experience); Roger and His Humans – Season 2 presented by Ellipsanime and Mediatoon Distribution (web series); Shangri-La, presented by Umanimation and the Collectif Or Normes (live show and VR).
  • The Cartoon Business conference cycle, dedicated to the financing of animation, was to be held from December 8 through 10 in Gran Canaria, Spain. It had to be cancelled this year due to the pandemic.
  • Announced last June, the creation by the Annecy International Animation Film Festival of the Annecy Festival Residency dedicated to the graphic development of debut animated feature films has moved on to a more concrete stage with the announcement of its first selection. Out of thirty-two candidates from seventeen countries, three first feature film projects have been selected and will therefore benefit from a three-month residency focusing on graphic design treatment in Annecy, from April 5 through June 27, 2021. Among them is the French project Le Cœur à danser devised by Amine El Ouarti and Pierre Le Couviour.

Upcoming animation events

Anima
The Brussels animation festival will be held from February 12 through 21, 2021, in a digital or hybrid version, if the pandemic situation allows for the latter. French works will be present in force again in 2021: out of sixty-seven short films selected, thirty-eight are French (including twelve in International Competition) and the opening film is a minority French production, Wolfwalkers by Tomm Moore.

Among the films in competition: Homeless Home by Alberto Vázquez, which already won the Jury Award at Annecy this spring, Souvenir Souvenir by Bastien Dubois, winner of the 2020 Prix Émile-Reynaud, as well as Genius Loci by Adrien Mérigeau, which received a Jury Distinction at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and a Grand Prize at the BIAF.

Souvenir SouvenirSouvenir Souvenir

French animation in general-interest film festivals

French animated short films received special accolades in general-interest festivals in October and November:

And Yet We Are Not Super HeroesAnd Yet We Are Not Super Heroes

Four French animation films were among those nominated at the 33rd European Film Awards (EFA). Genius Loci by Adrien Mérigeau and Uncle Thomas by Regina Pessoa were nominated in the European Short Film category. Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Canary by Rémi Chayé, and Josep by Aurel represented France in the European Animated Feature Film competition, with Josep winning the award. The film hence continues to be a great success in festivals after receiving the Best Animated Film Award at the Guadalajara International Film Festival and the Bayard Spécial du Jury at the FIFF.

French animated films circulated widely in festivals between late November and mid-December 2020, particularly in French film and short film festivals.

The Bears' Famous Invasion by Lorenzo Mattotti was part of the Official Selection at the French Film Varilux Panorama in Brazil and in the "Learning" category of the French Film Festival UK.

The Berlin French Film Week programed The Swallows of Kabul by Zabou Breitman and Éléa Gobbé-Mévellec in its Official Selection, and Marona's Fantastic Tale in the Young Audiences section.

Two animated titles were part of the Tapis Rouge, Festival du film français's Official Selection: Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Canary by Rémi Chayé, and Yakari, A Spectacular Journey by Xavier Giacometti and Toby Genkel.

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival was invited to present a selection of work-in-progress projects during Ventana Sur, the largest audiovisual content market in Latin America. Among the selected projects was Alberto Vázquez's debut feature Unicorn Wars,  produced by Autour de Minuit.

In terms of short films, the Festival international de court-métrage de Louvain presented four French films among its special programs: Genius Loci by Adrien Mérigeau, Memorable by Bruno Collet, Uncle Thomas by Regina Pessoa, and o28 by Otalia Caussé, Geoffroy Collin, Louise Grardel, Antoine Marchand, Robin Merle, and Fabien Meyran.

Empty Places by Geoffroy de Crécy and Souvenir Souvenir by Bastien Dubois were part of the French film program of the third edition of Dakar Court.

Lastly, the International Competition of Bogoshorts comprised four French titles this year: To the Dusty Sea by Héloïse Ferlay, Inès by Élodie Dermange, Souvenir Souvenir by Bastien Dubois, and Genius Loci by Adrien Mérigeau. The period has been fruitful for Alberto Vázquez  who presented Homeless Home in Bogoshort's Fanatic Freak Fantastic strand, in addition to his work-in-progress at Ventana Sur, mentioned above.

To the Dusty SeaTo the Dusty Sea

Five animated titles were programed in Official Selection at the 2020 edition of the French Film Festival in Japan: Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Canary by Rémi Chayé and Funan by Denis Do for the feature film category; The Shoreline by Sophie Racine, Souvenir Souvenir by Bastien Dubois, and Navozande, the Musician by Réza Riàhi for the short film category.

From December 3, 2020 through January 15, 2021, I Lost My Body by Jérémy Clapin will continue its long festival career on the occasion of the 17th edition of the French Film Panorama in China.


French VOD animation news

The promotional agency Animation Showcase recently launched a free viewing platform for professionals. Founded by Benoît Berthe Siward, Animation Showcase highlights a collection of Oscar-eligible animated shorts. Three French titles are part of "The Animation Showcase Best of 2020": My Life in Versailles by Clémence Madeleine-Perdrillat and Nathaniel H'limio28 by Otalia CausséGeoffroy CollinLouise GrardelAntoine MarchandRobin Merle, and Fabien Meyran, and Wild Love by Paul Autric, Quentin Camus, Léa Georges, Maryka Laudet, Zoé Sottiaux, and Corentin Yvergniaux. There are also nine French graduation films in the categories dedicated to the ESMA 3D and the École des Nouvelles Images.

 In mid-October, the production and distribution company Autour de Minuit launched its Youtube channel of animated shorts aimed at an adult audience. Entitled Animatic, this channel now offers a hundred short films available free of charge. The catalog includes recent films to discover, as well as films already known to movie buffs such as Logorama by François Alaux, Hervé de Crécy, Ludovic Houplain, and H5, and The Monster of Nix by Rosto, to mention just two.


Animation in UniFrance's 2020 SVOD market indicator

For the second consecutive year, UniFrance released a new study, analysing the presence of French films on sixty-nine SVOD platforms in forty-eight market regions in July 2020.

Overall, animated films represent 4% of French films on SVOD platforms analyzed over the period. At the national level, The Netherlands and the Nordic countries have the highest proportion of animated films among their French film content, with 9% of animated titles. It is therefore not surprising that it is a Nordic platform, Viaplay, that leads the ranking of platforms with the highest proportions, with 11% of animation among their French titles, followed by the British platform Looke (6% animation).

For more information, please consult the complete UniFrance SVOD indicator (including 28 territory sheets and 26 detailed platform sheets), available here. (In French.)


Animated films at the international box office this fall 

Top 5 French animated films according to their international admissions
in September, October, and November 2020
Position Film No. of Countries No. of Admissions from 08/31/2020 through 11/29/2020 Box Office Revenues (€)
08/31/2020 through 11/29/2020
1 Bigfoot Family 14 1,258,824 6,157,340
2 Yakari, A Spectacular Journey 7 165,716 1,266,481
3 Terra Willy 2 69,747 584,076
4 Vic the Viking and the Magic Sword* 5 13,271 52,016
5 The Bears' Famous Invasion 5 8,533 29,595

*Minority French productions 

 

Like all films this fall, animated features were affected by the second wave of the global pandemic, which once again led to the closure of movie theaters in many countries.

However, figures show that animated feature films managed to find a large audience when they were able to be released in theaters: French animation accumulated more than 1.5 million admissions from September through November 2020. This is equivalent to 37.7% of admissions for French films abroad over this period, whereas animated films accounted for only 6% of the French films released.

 This success is notably linked to the popularity of Bigfoot Family. This minority French film attracted more than 1.2 million admissions in fourteen territories, mainly in Russia, where it exceeded the symbolic bar of half a million spectators with 670,000 admissions. Russia was also the leading territory in terms of admissions for French animation in recent months, followed by The Netherlands, with more than 195,000 admissions, once again for Bigfoot Family.

Upcoming releases*

*The dates indicated are subject to change according to local health regulations.

 

Press roundup

Bigfoot Family released in ten territories in October.

  • In Russia, where it has met with great success with nearly 700,000 admissions since its release on October 1, the press has widely hailed this family comedy for young and old, which conveys strong values such as the defense of ecology and the notion of commitment. Critics were unanimous in their praise. Download  complete press clippings here
  • In The Netherlands, where it was released on October 7 and has already garnered nearly 200,000 admissions, the film has benefited from an extensive media campaign with more than thirty articles in major national and regional media. A competition to win tickets and goodies was also set up. Download complete press clippings here.
  • In Denmark, where the film has amassed more than 100,000 admissions since its release on October 8, some fifteen publications in national and regional newspapers have hailed it as a European family film. Its ecological message and the intensity of the action were particularly appreciated. A competition was arranged whereby children were invited to previews, and tickets and goody bags could be won. Download  complete press clippings here.

Yakari, A Spectacular Journey was released in six territories in October.

  • In The Netherlands, the press campaign covered some fifteen media outlets, including national dailies, monthly newspapers, and websites. The press generally praised a "captivating" story, well-written characters, and impressive landscapes.
    Download complete press clippings here.
  • In German-speaking Switzerland, the press campaign focused on the fame of Derib, Swiss comic book author and creator of the Yakari characteer. More than a hundred articles appeared, including several interviews published in magazines with large circulation, and in national and regional daily newspapers.(NZZ am Sonntag, Luzerner, Solothurner, etc.). Download complete press clippings here.
  • In Germany, the comic strip, already well known, paved the way for a large press campaign. The film received special attention because the director is German and the well-known actress Diana Amft lends her voice to the beaver character. The reception was very positive, with the film scoring the top rating of five stars. Download complete press clippings here.

Calamity, une enfance de Martha Jane Cannary was released in French-speaking Switzerland on October 14 and Belgium on October 21.

  • In French-speaking Switzerland, the film received very good reviews: "A curious and unusual animated film," "A feminine Western through a child's viewpoint," and "An animated gem devoid of any nonsense." In addition, a competition to win tickets and invitations to previews  was organized by the distributor. Download complete press clippings here.
  • In Belgium, the film's success was abruptly interrupted, with 1,000 admissions registered since October 21, Brussels' movie theaters having closed on October 24. Despite everything, the film had a very good press campaign, with coverage from the country's main media and even the more specialized press, such as Femmes d’aujourd’hui and Le Journal des Enfants. Download complete press clippings here.

* If you would like to let us know about a selection, award, or success that we've neglected to mention, please contact us: carla.negre@unifrance.org

 

Author : Carla Negre

Latest update : 05 January 2021 à 15:46 CET

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