Heather Kenyon discusses Cartoons on the Bay, the world's only television animation festival, a uniquely Italian event set in the midst of some of the earth's most beautiful scenery.
Welcome to Positano, the site of the world's only television animation festival, a uniquely Italian festival set in the midst of some of the earth's most dramatic scenery.
For those used to the bustle of Annecy and the serious business nature of MIP, Cartoons on the Bay can take a little getting used to. Located on the beautiful Amalfi coast in the small, quaint town of Positano, the pace of Cartoons on the Bay is anything but hurried. After grabbing your bags at the Naples airport, pause a moment and take a deep breath. You are now on Positano time! Panel discussions may be listed as starting at 11 a.m. and they may start at 11 or 11:30. But don't worry about needing to re-schedule meetings or missing other events, at Cartoons on the Bay everything always seems to work out. Panel discussions are held at a lovely hotel, while screenings take place a stone's throw away in a huge tent constructed right on the beach especially for the event. Workmen construct a village on the sand that houses the screening tent, a meeting area and a few booths. The screening schedule is also quite relaxed, with breaks between programs for leisurely meals and the earliest program starting at 10 a.m.
Cartoons on the Bay feels like a small town festival even though there are plenty of familiar faces from the international animation scene. Swarms of kids were entertained by Kinder Sorpresa and Cartoon Network Italy. Crowding into the screenings they pushed back and forth, jostling one another, leaving to get this friend, coming back to get that one. All the time, laughing, clutching balloons and carrying on. The evening presentations are also predominately attended by local families, packs of school kids and young men and women on dates. With programs mostly in Italian (translation is always provided though) and featuring Italian television and other popular stars, it is a true immersion into Italian culture. Whereas most festivals have serious ministers of culture in gray suits pontificating on their region's current policy, Cartoons on the Bay has a young, tightly-clad Italian television star conversationally clowning with guests, the audience and Tom and Jerry costumed characters alike.
It is also interesting to note that the panel on Internet animation, held the final day of the festival, was a regular all star line up featuring major players from the U.S., France and Italy. Cartoons on the Bay deserves credit for putting together such a group. Christian Davin from Alphanim, Jeff Fino from Wild Brain, Eric Oldrin from Atom Shockwave, Rick Mischel of Rumpus.com and Nico Piro of Rai Net were a few of the heavy hitters present. Anywhere on the globe such a group of experts would be considered a coup.
And that is the strength of Cartoons on the Bay. By gathering a select and powerful group of professionals in a relaxed and beautiful setting, the event allows its visitors the opportunity to take a deep breath and truly meet and discuss the issues as they come to mind or are prodded by the panels and screenings.
Heather Kenyon is editor in chief of Animation World Network. After graduating magna cum laude with a BFA from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television, Heather began her career in animation at Hanna-Barbera Cartoons, where she became manager of the Production Communications department. Recently, she has contributed a chapter to the upcoming book, Animation in Asia, to be published by John Libbey & Company, Ltd. Heather is also vice president of Women In Animation International and on the Board of Trustees of Trees for Life.