Contemporary European Features

by Heikki Jokinen

Here is a selection of recent and upcoming European animated features. It is easy to see that the subject matter and countries of origin are all very varied.

The Long Shadow, a film about Hans Christian Andersen. © Zentropa Production.

The Long Shadow
H.C. Andersen's life was not always a fairy tale! The Long Shadow is an intelligent film about a man's life for an adult audience. Producer: Zentropa Production. Director: Jannik Hastrup. Duration: 80-minutes. Status: Released January 16, 1998.

Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl
An internationally funded, French produced film, based on Anne Frank's world famous diary from the days of Nazi occupation in Amsterdam. However, the animation is realistic and somewhat stiff. Producer: Globe Trotter Network. Director: Julian Y Wolff. Duration: 90-minutes. Status: The film is ready for distribution.

Dogs Days
Here's a Swedish detective story from the world of dogs. Director Per Åhlin is a veteran of several feature animations like Dunderklumpen (Thundering Fatso, 1974), and the ambitious and personal Resan till Melonia (Journey to Melonia, 1989), which is based on Shakespeare's The Tempest. Producer: Memphis Film & TV. Duration: 73-minutes. Status: Set to premiere next year.

Help I'm a Fish!
This Danish film depicts children turned into fish! Producer: A.Film. Duration: 75-minutes. Status: Will premiere October 6, 2000.

Werner III, Volles Rooäää!!!
A film for those who like beer, motorcycles and speed, this film is a continuation of the two previous, very successful Werner films. Producer: Achterbahn AG. Director: Gerhard Hahn. Duration: 72-minutes. Status: Released on September 16, 1999.

A Monkey's Tale
This French-British film about a land of monkeys, revolves around xenophobia and friendship, and while it is well done, it remains a bit powerless. Producer: Le Films du Triange. Director: Jean-Francois Laguoinie. Duration: 75-minutes. Status: Delivered February, 1999.

Three Old Ladies
Do you remember the multi-award winning animation The Old Lady and the Pigeons by Frenchman Sylvain Chomet? Now he's working in Canada on a feature presenting the old lady's two sisters. The story is again absurd and highly original with charmingly nostalgic images. The existing short film will be part of the feature. Producer: Les Armateurs. Duration: 80-minutes. Status: In production.

A feature based on Frenchman Georges Lacroix's widely distributed television animation series of the same name. This forerunner of fashionable feature films starring insects is a high quality 3D computer animation. Producer: Fantôme. Duration: 80-minutes. Status: Planned release for Christmas, 2001.

Another 3D animation from France, Gaina features a science fiction-type story with an ecological message for a younger audience. Producer: Chaman. Director: Tarik Hamdine. Duration: 85-minutes. Status: In production.

Corto Maltese in Siberia
What else but an adventure film based on the comics of the late Italian master, artist Hugo Pratt? The hero is Corto Maltese -- a seaman without a ship, an adventurer in the days of the Russian revolution. The film aims to keep Pratt's romantic and individualist approach...the result will be seen next year. Producer: Ellipsanime. Director: Pascal Morelli. Duration: 88-minutes. Status: In production.

Chicken Run
An adventure/comedy about a group of chickens who make a desperate bid for freedom before they can be fried, filleted or fricasseed. The film is being co-directed by Peter Lord and Nick Park at Aardman Animations in Bristol, Britain. The stop-motion film is being distributed by DreamWorks in the US. Status: Will be released in late June of 2000.

A kids' film about children entering a very strange amusement park. Producer: TerraGlyph in Dublin, Ireland. Director: Deanne Taylor. Duration: 75-minutes. Status: Recently completed production.

The Socialization of a Bull?
Socialization is the first Slovenian feature animation by Zvonko Coh and Milan Eric. In this wild story, Professor Raisin is trying to find a chemical that could stimulate hair growth. At the same time, on a planet far away, the king's son accidentally de-evolves into a bull Producer: Skuk, E-Motion Film and Slovenian Television. Duration: 80-minutes. Status: Released in 1998.

Ahmed, the Prince of the Alhambra
A Spanish film telling a story from the times of Spain's Arabian kings. The animation resembles a television series more than a real feature. Producer: Lotura Films. Director: Juan Ba Berasategui. Duration: 70-minutes. Status: Released in 1998.

Kirikou and the Sorceress
A magical story, set in Africa, presenting Kirikou, a small boy, as the village hero. A beautiful and wise film, it is fully deserving of its fame. Producer: Les Armateurs. Director: Michel Ocelot. Duration: 75-minutes. Status: Released December 9, 1998.

The Frog's Prophecy
In this new kind of Noah's Ark story, only the frogs know that there will be a deluge lasting 40 days and nights. This French film will be directed by Cartoon d'Or winner Jacques-Remy Girerd and is designed by Russian Yuri Tsherenkov, both of whom are well known for their short films. Producer: Folimage. Duration: 80-minutes. Status: In production.

Lucky and Zorba
A beautifully drawn and told story of a seagull and the cats who adopt him. Italian director Enzo d'Alo is also known for his previous feature The Blue Arrow. Producer: La Lanterna Magica. Duration: 70-minutes. Status: Released at the end of 1998.

Gurin with the Foxtail
A Norwegian blockbuster about a boy who gets a fox tail for lying, the private eye Sonny Duckworth, and the rich ladies who hunt foxes for their beautiful tails. This is a humorous children's film for the whole family. Producer: Filmkameratene and Svensk Filmindustri. Directors: Nille Tystad and John M. Jacobsen. Duration: 76-minutes. Status: Premiered August 7, 1998.

Heikki Jokinen is a freelance critic and journalist based in Helsinki, Finland. He specializes in comics, short film and animation. He is chairman of the Finnish Art Critics' Association and the former president of ASIFA Nordic, the ASIFA regional body for the five Nordic and three Baltic countries.

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