Cartoon Forum Celebrates 20th Anniversary
The 20th annual Cartoon Forum took place September 22-25 in the beautiful town of Stavanger, Norway, capital of the coastal fjord-filled county of Rogaland. The premier European co-production forum for animation for TV and new media platforms takes place each year in a different city and affords participants the opportunity to present their project to all the key players of the animation industry. Always marked by a convivial atmosphere, the event in this milestone year had an especially positive and cohesive vibe, with attendees seemingly enjoying simply being together to share their common enthusiasm.
More than 725 broadcasters, investors, producers and distributors participated in this year's event, at which 61 projects from 19 countries – a total of 310 hours of content with a combined budget of 148 million euros -- were presented. As in previous years, the event also hosted the prestigious Cartoon Tributes, recognizing companies or personalities that have had a positive influence on the European animation industry over the last year, and the Cartoon d’Or, established in 1991 as a top annual prize for European animation.
This year’s tributes went to NRK (Best Broadcaster), Cake Entertainment (Best Investor/Distributor) and Brown Bag Films (Best Producer). Brown Bag’s selection was particularly gratifying, since CEO Cathal Gaffney is a long-time supporter of and frequent presenter at Cartoon Forum, and he and Brown Bag are becoming major players in European animation production.
The Cartoon d'Or 2009 was awarded to Irish director David O’Reilly for his innovative short film Please say something, which won the Golden Bear for Best Short Film earlier this year at the 59th Berlin International Film Festival. (Only films that have already won a major prize during the course of the year can be considered for nomination.) The film utilizes a stripped-down, yet highly complex, visual style and a nonlinear narrative structure to tell the story of “a troubled relationship between a Cat and Mouse set in the distant Future.”
The other nominees were Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Bastien Dubois), Party Animals (Merwan Chabane), Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (Nick Park), and Aston’s Stones (Uzi & Lotta Geffenblad), a sweet and gently paced film that couldn’t have been more different from the winner, demonstrating once again the striking diversity of first-rank European short animation. This year's jury was composed of directors Serge Elissalde (France), Kari Juusonen (Finland) and Tomm Moore (Ireland).
The ten projects that garnered the most interest among broadcasters, investors, producers and distributors at the meeting were Boo Boo Dolls (Germany); Granny O’Grimm (Ireland); Skybabies (UK); Kinky & Cosy (France); Me and my Robot (France); The Flying Squirrels (Spain); The Secret Life of Suckers (Spain); Copy Cut (France); Pigly (France); and Dustbunnies (UK).
While unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to see all of these, both Boo Boo Dolls and Dustbunnies were among the presentations that stood out for me.