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Rai Fiction Launches New Series at Cartoons on the Bay

Daniel Barenboim and the creators of ‘Peppa Pig’ among the prestigious international collaborators for upcoming production slate that will include a mix of live-action and animated shows.



From Venice, on the final day of the festival of TV animation Cartoons on the Bay, Rai Fiction launched major new European productions and targeted projects of social engagement intended for an audience of Italian children and families.

“Common to all Rai series, be they large or small budget,” explains Luca Milano, deputy director of Rai Fiction and head of the animation section, “is the ability to help children grow while having fun and stimulating the imagination and curiosity, as well as a taste for beauty, illustration and music. And then to approach reading or sport, promoting values of tolerance, friendship, respect for nature and others, and - increasingly – to have self-confidence, to not be discouraged when faced with difficulties, and to know how to ask for help and help others when needed.” As for the techniques used, a strong trend this year is to produce hybrid series with a mix of live action and animation that also serves to involve a wider audience.

A new project of this type is the series Seven Dwarfs and Me, a European co-production (with Method Film, which also produced the series The Little Prince) with great ratings potential. Comprising 26 mixed media episodes in one original and fun series, where the line between reality and fantasy is at times very blurred. The protagonist is 10 year old Snow, the great-great-great granddaughter of Snow White, into whose life have burst the famous Seven Dwarfs - in animated version and with updated appearances compared to the characters of Disney memory – creating enjoyable havoc and promising to defend her from the dangers of daily life. In the role of her father, a rather eccentric pastry chef and cake designer, is actor Flavio Parenti (who played the young surgeon Lorenzo Martini in TV series Un medico in famiglia (A Doctor in the Family)).

Following the success of its first season, which aired on 70 channels worldwide, fantasy Mia and Me returns, the first successful experiment by Rai Fiction in the hybrid series. A mix of reality and fantasy sees young protagonist Mia - played by Italian-American actress Rosabell Laurenti Sellers (currently in the fifth series of Game of Thrones) - amid imaginary 3D scenarios and characters inspired by the style of painter Gustav Klimt. The first 13 episodes of the second season having freshly aired exclusively on Rai Gulp, the next 13 are pending, while a third season is already planned with a further 26 episodes by the end of 2016. A Hahn Film, m4e and Rainbow production, co-produced by German ZDF Television Network.

For younger children, two brand new titles stand out. From eOne Family, the creators of Peppa Pig and Ben & Holly, in collaboration with Maga Animation based in Monza, comes Bobby and the Bike Buddies, a series about a group of little, highly anthropomorphized motorbikes that behave as children, created in 3D CGI with excellent quality graphics and script.

‘Max & Maestro’

‘Max & Maestro’

After Boo-Boom, a series set in the second world war presented last year and currently in production, Graphilm in Rome (awarded “Italian Studio of the Year” in Venice) is producing Nefertine, the history of the ancient Egyptians directed by Maurizio Forestieri. Over 52 episodes of 11 minutes duration, we will follow the exciting adventures of the young protagonist of the title, her friend and a cat called Micerina. Taken from the book All’ombra delle Piramidi (In the shadow of the pyramids) published by Lapis, the series targets upper pre-school age children (4-6 years old).

Older children are catered for with a great literary classic in a re-examined version, however. Taken from Stevenson’s masterpiece Treasure Island, the series puts to sea for an adventurous, larger scale voyage among pirates, old treasures and tropical scenery in the company of Jim Hawkins, John Silver and many other friends that we have never met. A coproduction with Mondo TV of 26 episodes of 26 minutes by Giuseppe Maurizio Laganà (director and artistic director).

The highly topical theme of immigration is addressed with a TV special featuring as the protagonist a promising athlete born in Italy to parents originally from Bangladesh. Set in a lively and colourful Palermo, which welcomes and brings together all the cultures of the Mediterranean, Il traguardo di Patrizia (Patricia’s Goal) is the new social engagement film produced by Rai Fiction with Larcadarte of Palermo that follows on from films Benedetta on the subject of child labour, Giovanni e Paolo e il mistero dei pupi (John and Paul and the mystery of the puppets) on Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino and La missione di 3 P (The 3 P Mission) dedicated to Padre Pino Puglisi, the priest from Palermo killed by the Mafia. Annalisa Corsi, a student of maestro in animation such as Giulio Gianini, is the artist behind the graphics for the 26-minute TV special directed by Rosalba Vitellaro, coproduced by Graphilm and the Sicilian Regional Film Commission, with the voice of Palermo actress Isabella Ragonese in the role of the protagonist.

Max & Maestro (provisional title) uses the valued collaboration of Daniel Barenboim in a series of 52 episodes of 11 minutes long able to combine fun and music education through the story of a boy in the suburbs who grew up with rap and videogames, but who dreams of becoming an orchestra conductor. A fortuitous meeting with the great Maestro Barenboim - who has lent his own image to the character of the orchestra director and musical instrument owner - can transform his dream into reality. In the edition of the festival dedicated to Israel as the host country, the series in development coproduced by Rai Fiction (with the French Monello Production and the Italian MP1) marks a new cultural and social commitment for Barenboim, who is a United Nations Messenger of Peace and the only Israeli to have honorary Palestinian citizenship as a result of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, which he founded with Palestinian author Edward Said to unite musicians from Israel and Arab countries.

Finally, in the year of the Expo there had to be a title dedicated to the themes of the great international event opening in Milan in a few days. Gruppo Alcuni of Treviso and Rai Fiction, in collaboration with the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the UNESCO Office in Venice, present Young Leonardo, created especially for Expo 2015. Written by Francesco and Sergio Manfio, the 26 five minute episodes tell of the adventures of a young Leonardo da Vinci and his inseparable group of friends, who are already starring in the animated series of the same name, but this time searching for a balance between the availability and consumption of resources. Each episode deals with a theme linked to the content of the Expo such as nutrition, sustainable development, renewable energies and water assets.‘Isola del Tesoro’

Source: Rai Fiction

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.