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Toonz Media Group Announces ‘Bartali’s Bicycle’ Co-Production

Inspired by the cyclist Gino Bartali’s acts of bravery in saving Jewish lives during the Nazi occupation of Italy during World War II, the 2D animated film is set for release in early 2023.

Toonz Media Group is teaming up with Lynx Multimedia Factory, Rai Ragazzi, and Telegael to co-produce the 2D animated feature, Bartali’s Bicycle (working title). The film is inspired by legendary road cyclist Gino Bartali’s daring humanitarian acts of courage during World War II. The movie, targets kids ages 7+ and their families, and will reflect themes of tolerance, teamwork, and diversity. It is set for release in early 2023.

Set in the modern day Middle East, the 80-minute feature follows two young boys from rival communities who are brought together by their shared love for cycling. The story is woven around Bartali’s awe-inspiring work for Holocaust victims during World War II.

The development, pre-production and picture post-production of the movie will be led by Lynx Studio in Italy while the animation production will be done at Toonz studios in India. Final backgrounds and sound post-production will be carried out at Emmy Award-winning Irish studio and Toonz group company Telegael, who will also handle some elements of pre-production. It will be distributed in Italy by RAI with Toonz and TVCO responsible for worldwide distribution.

Enrico Paolantonio (The Extraordinary Adventures of Jules Verne and Egyxos) helms as director with Sabrina Callipari as head of production. Based on an original idea by the late Roman writer Israel Cesare Moscati (“A Starry Sky Above the Roman Ghetto”) who developed the subject and screenplay with Marco Beretta (Foot 2 Rue Extreme). Character design is by Italian comic book artist Corrado Mastantuono (“Nick Raider” and “Magico Vento”) with illustrator Andrea Pucci serving as the background artist. Valentina Mazzola (The Star of Andra and Tati) is the script editor.

Bartali saved many Jewish lives during the Nazi occupation of Italy by concealing their documents in his bicycle. The feature begins sixty years later, when Bartali’s bicycle becomes the tool and symbol of victory for David, a smart and sensitive Jewish boy. David accepts the challenge of winning a cycling championship together with his Arab friend Ibrahim, violating rules but making peace and tolerance triumph between their communities.

Bartali’s Bicycle is a story that will resonate with audiences all across the world,” commented Toonz Media Group CEO P. Jayakumar. “It is exactly the kind of story that Toonz is committed to relate to the younger generation. This is, indeed, a prestigious project for Toonz and we are very excited to team up with our amazing partners Lynx, Rai Ragazzi, TVCO and Telegael for this international co-production.”

“Gino Bartali was not only a great cycling champion, but a man who risked his life to fight racism and discrimination and for this he was honored as Righteous among the nations,” noted RAI Kids director Luca Milano. “In a world still plagued by wars and conflicts, his fast and brave bicycle is a symbol of peace for kids and families. That is why RAI has promoted the project of this important film from the very beginning.”

“We are so proud to be in co-production for the film Bartali's Bicycle with Toonz Media Group, a major international animation group, and Rai Ragazzi which from the beginning believed in this project,” noted added Lynx Multimedia Factory CEO Evelina Poggi. “It is wonderful to share with our partners themes such as solidarity in sports, altruism in life, friendship that wins over everything, and more in-depth important topics such as the Shoah and civil coexistence and try the best way to represent them in animation.”

Bartali's Bicycle is a story of human endurance and trust that has deep and distant roots in the true story of the rescue of hundreds of Jews during the German occupation in Italy by a cycling legend: Gino Bartali,” shared TVCO CEO Vincenzo Mosca. “We look forward to bringing this animated movie to the world market and to contributing to making that story known to all worldwide.”

Source: Toonz Media Group

Debbie Diamond Sarto's picture

Debbie Diamond Sarto is news editor at Animation World Network.