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Cartoons On The Bay

Cartoons on the Bay--The International Festival of Animation: Films, TV Series and Fairy Tales is the English name of an Italian international festival held April 15-18 in Amalfi, Italy...

Cartoons on the Bay--The International Festival of Animation: Films, TV Series and Fairy Tales is the English name of an Italian international festival held April 15-18 in Amalfi, Italy. The city itself is a tiny, beautiful and colorful town on the Mediterranean coast 60 km south of Naples. It was the festival's first edition and it's artistic director, Alfio Bastiancich ( a young veteran of animation festivals and animation scholarship), has pointed out the novelty of its focus. "There is no other festival like this," he told The Hollywood Reporter, "since the other festivals, like Annecy, Ottawa and Hiroshima, focus their attention on auteur films, and not so much on individual TV production."

Which actually is the point, since high quality animated entertainment for television is the great novelty of today's global market, as opposed to the situation of just 5-6 years ago, when basically only two forms of animation existed (besides commercials): auteur films and TV series.

Giampaolo Sodano, SACIS' Chairman, added: "With animation occupying 20% of the audiovisual market and becoming a growing trend, as of yet there had never been a festival that analyzed and rewarded the very best in TV cartoons." Sodano was the big muscle behind the festival; his company is the distribution branch of the government-owned Italian broadcaster RAI, and his decision in favor of animation shows a strong determination to get involved with it--finally, after 30 years of absent-mindedness.

Insektors © Fantome

Pulcinella, Pulcinella ...

There were 56 films in competition representing 14 countries; 52 more were screened in the out of competition Showcase section. The Golden Pulcinella for Best Character was awarded to Italy's Franceso Tullio Altan for Pimpa (a naive red spotted dog, created 20 years ago for a comic strip aimed at children; the 1995 pilot for a TV series is directed by Enzo D'Alò). The other Golden Pulcinella went to France's Fantôme Animation (Renato and Georges Lacroix) for their 1995 series Insektors, as Best Programme All Round. It is a 26 x 13' series using 3-D computer animation, that was honored "for its technical innovation in computer graphics, for the beauty of its images, for its rhythm and editing, for its sense of humor, for the quality of its soundtrack and for the originality of the characters."

The Silver Pulcinella for the Best Programme for Infants went to France Animation (Jean-Luc Morel, Daniel Orgeval) for The Babalous, a 65 x 5' Franco-Canadian series. The Silver Pulcinella for the Best Children's Programme (6-12 Years) went to Ralph Hibbert Entertainment (Graham Ralph, James Stevenson) for The Forgotten Toys. This was a 25 minute British TV special that was, to this writer's taste, actually the best film of the festival, masterfully crafted, tender, sensitive, very well written and very well designed.

The Silver Pulcinella for the Best Programme for Adolescents went to France Animation (Pascal Morelli) for Nighthood, a 26 x 26' series starring the classic feuilleton character Arsène Lupin. The Silver Pulcinella for the best program for adults went to Klasky Csupo (Eva Almos) for Duckman, the 13 x 24' American series. The Silver Pulcinella for Best Family Programme went to Bruno Bozzetto Productions (Bruno Bozzetto) for the Spaghetti Family pilot, a humorous description of everyday life in a typical Italian family of today.

Special awards were given for graphics, to Japan's Four Seasons of Pepperon (a TV special produced by NHK Educational corporation and directed by Mitsumosa Anno); for animation to the UK's The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies and Mrs. Tittle Mouse (a special produced by TV Cartoons Ltd. and directed by Dave Unwin from a tale by Beatrix Potter); for background scenery to Belarus' Home Sweet Home (a pilot produced by Validia and directed by Vitaly Bakunovic and Susan Sivachov).

The Fairy Tales section showed previews of the forthcoming Disney extravaganza, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (exciting, as usual), an upcoming Italian feature, The Blue Arrow, directed by Enzo D'Alò and designed by Palolo Cardoni (a very promising film for children, with nice drawings and a very good music score by Paolo Conte), and a cinematic version of Prokofieff's Peter and the Wolf, directed and produced by George Daugherty, with characters designed and created by Chuck Jones (a little disappointing).

Children and Violence

During the festival, a UNESCO sponsored conference about children and violence was held. At the end, some guidelines were issued, aimed not at limiting creativity, but "to be a challenge to find new ways of telling stories, catch adventures and portray a character". Among these guidelines: plot conflicts should find a positive solution in each episode of a series; conflicts and violence should be expressed in a humorous and playful way; animated cartoons for small children should avoid, as much as possible, any violence--physical or psychological, explicit or implicit; violence, if present, should be justified by the plot; violence shouldn't be presented as a viable solution for a problem. It is true that virtually each and every educator in Europe is currently complaining about violence on television, and that it is going to be rejected in almost all children's programs. This could be a problem in global markets, as there are actual differences among audiences. Stanford Blum, President and CEO of the US-based Imagination Factory, explains that, "In Europe, they don't want violence. In Japan, it's key. You either have to do one type of show or the other."

Last but not least, Amalfi brought out some good news about Italian animation. As I noted above, SACIS and RAI are getting more and more involved with animation production and distribution. Giuseppe Laganà is already at work on a series based upon the popular Italian comic book star, Lupo Alberto (Albert the Wolf); pilots have been commissioned from Laganà (Arturo and Malik), Bruno Bozetto (The Spaghetti Family), Maurizio Forestieri (The House of Decius), Enzo D'Alò and Paolo Zaniboni (Steam Rail), Pier Luigi De Mas (Goose Pimples), Guido Manuli (Gno Gno and Go Duck); Manuli is also working on a project for a comedy-horror feature film. It is a great start for a broadcaster that had scorned Italian animation for 30 years--and for an industry that has suffered for too long from a lack of a home market.

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