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Dark themes, light tech at Cartoon Forum

Kidscreen's features editor Jeremy Dickson finds promising projects at this year's event—and a surprising lack of digital extensions.
September 16, 2016

Before checking out the five nominees for the Cartoon D’or Award for Best European Animated Short Film at this year’s Cartoon Forum, I was filled with optimism. This was mainly because last year’s finalists presented recurring themes of death and depression.

Unfortunately, deaths occur in four of the five new nominated films including (spoiler alert) two dog deaths. Thankfully, there was one bright light in the pack—Spanish crowd-pleaser Alike (pictured) by Daniel Martinez Lara and Rafa Cano Méndez, with Lara and Madrid-based prodco La Fiesta PC producing.

The non-dialog film nabbed the audience award at the 3DWire 2015 Festival (Cartoon Forum’s partner fest) and could easily be mistaken for a Pixar short. It tells the story of a father who struggles to parent his child the correct way until it’s almost too late.

Yet despite hitting all the right emotional beats without overplaying its hand and earning the night’s biggest applause, a dark, white-knuckle thriller entitled Yul and the Snake by Gabriel Harel of France took home this year’s top prize.

Looking back at two days’ worth of toon pitches, I’m struck once again by the small number of projects that are actually finding ways to extend their properties across platforms, even though 52% of this year’s submissions have been developed with other media platforms in mind—including online, mobile devices and video games.

Funding and resources are always issues, but of the 20 or so pitches I attended from the beginning of the Forum, only three presented digital extensions that have either launched or are actively in development.

French studio Folimage and Switzerland’s Nadasdy Film have plans to debut an AR, location-based travel adventure app for their female-centric series Vanille, Ireland’s Giant Animation has a fantastic interactive website in the works for Creepers and Canada’s CarpeDiem Film & TV has an app out already for its Snowsnaps project. The company is also sliding into a VR experience.

Other buzzworthy projects from the Forum so far include Kavaleer’s Alva & the Trolls (Ireland), Blue Zoo’s Millie & Lou (UK), Millimages’ Kung Fu Brothers (France), Sixteen South’s Boogaloo and Graham, and although its pitch was a bit all over the place, Normaal’s clever short-form series Surprise (France).

The 27th annual Cartoon Forum wraps up today.

About The Author
Jeremy is the Features Editor of Kidscreen specializing in the content production, broadcasting and distribution aspects of the global children's entertainment industry. Contact Jeremy at jdickson@brunico.com.

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