Italy’s Cartoons on the Bay comes right on the heels of MIP-TV this month, running its fifth festival from April 5 to 9 in seaside Positano. Run by RAI Trade, the TV animation festival has added a new Pulcinella Award to its roster, dedicated to recognizing animation created for Internet distribution.
RAI Trade narrowed down the 25 submissions it received for the new award to five final entries, including a one-off kid-skewing toon from San Francisco-based Silver Tech, a company that specializes in on-line security and building private Internet sites for young surfers. Airing on all of the mediaco’s sites-eKids (four to seven) eTeens (eight to 13) and 24/7 Edge (14 and up)-Nasty Mariachi vs. the Evil Cucarachas is a 2-D Flash-animated series targeting a wide youth audience. The idea for the 2.5-minute web show was spawned by its animator, Rogelio Ramirez Jr., who wanted to do something along the lines of a Spaghetti Western featuring a Mariachi. The character isn’t a particularly good Mariachi singer, but it turns out that hoards of evil cockroaches are enthralled by his tunes, which he uses to destroy them-the Pied Piper of South America, if you will. Although the company has a small creative staff, it produces web content at a dizzying pace; Nasty Mariachi was made in one week. For that reason, specific budget figures weren’t available, but Silver Tech sources allow that the toon came in around US$8,000.
San Francisco toon house Wild Brain also made the final five with Romanov, ‘the motion-enhanced, chrono-directional adventures of a strange little fellow with an yin-yang symbol for a face.’ Romanov manages to exaggerate the absurd in everyday behavior. For example, in one ep, he yawns and triggers a ridiculous political protest against the contagious nature of yawning. The 24 x 3.5-minute web series targets young adults and is available on www.wildbrain.com.
Friday the 12th is an Italian short intended for all audiences. However, when presenting a satirical look at a stinted lover who tries to kill himself, maybe ‘all audiences’ doesn’t necessarily include kids. The webisode (three minutes, budgeted at US$4,500) is created by Italian prodco Stranemani (www.stranemani.com), which has worked on kids toons like Ellipse’s Corto Maltese. Friday the 12th’s co-creator is Leo Ortalani, an Italian animator who created the comic book Rat-Man, edited by a division of Marvel Italia and in development as a feature film by Stranemani (budgeted at US$3.2 million).
Dead of Night skews to young adults and is produced by L.A.-based Platinum Studios. The five-minute web short (at www.platinumstudios.com) features Dylan Dog, a P.I. who specializes in the undead. Notorious for adapting comic book characters for features, Dimension is starting to diversify into webisode adaptation as well. Rounding out the short list is Tim Burton’s warped webtoon Stain Boy, with has garnered much acclaim on www.shockwave.com.
Cartoons on the Bay director Alfio Bastiancich feels that the Internet is today’s most experimental ground for young artists and renowned directors. ‘Cartoons on the Bay wants to highlight this phenomenon and follow its evolution.’ In judging the animated offerings, the jury assesses how the work has managed ‘to conjugate the requirements of art, the industry and the audience,’ Bastiancich explains. ‘But as far as on-line works are concerned, the experimental component is still strong, both from the technical-aesthetic and the narrative point of view. The jury will single out that work that best expresses the spirit of technical and linguistic research characteristic of the new media, together with the spirit of the great tradition of classic artistic animation.’
Jury members this year are: Joel Andryc, executive VP for Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network, U.S.; William Hetzer, former chief of the Internet, broadcast and image at Unicef, U.S.; Jean-Francois Laguionie, a France-based independent producer; Guido Manuli, an indie producer from Italy; and Colin Rose, director of the BBC animation unit, U.K.