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April, 2004 - Nr. 4


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European animators seek to rival Pixar and Disney

    TWIG - European animation projects are usually modest undertakings. With very limited budgets, most projects never leave the country and have little appeal among older movie-goers.

But since a series of recent successes by Pixar animation proved that cartoons can be made for all ages, European animation studios are poised to enter a world that had for decades been dominated by Disney. And international cooperation among animators is helping to create competition for American and Japanese animators, who have long lead the pack.

A showcase of the over a dozen new animated films will be presented this week at the "Cartoon Movie" festival at Berlin’s famed Babelsberg Studios. Another four films are still in production, while ten more are being developed. The forum is meant to connect animators, story-board artists, and screenwriters with the film industry professionals that can help bring their stories to life.

"Before there was Cartoon Movie, there were only one or two animated films per year in Europe. Now there are eight to ten," said Michael Schmetz, project leader for the Germany. Three German films will be featured at the festival.

The European Association of Animation Film has developed the festival from an informal meeting in 1999 to a mediator of more than 60 film projects worth over 350 million Eur. Thanks to a very generous film promotion grant from the federal government and a growing number of investors, festival organizers have secured Babelsberg as the location for Cartoon Movie for the next five years - a move that should help strengthen the ties between Eastern and Western European animation studios when the European Union expands eastward in May.

Among the main attractions at the festival will be the French full-length animated feature "The Triplets of Belleville," a film which went up against Pixar’s world blockbuster "Finding Nemo" to vie for the Academy Award in animation. Though the film lost, it has since become an art house favorite all-across the United States by displaying the strength of European moviemaking: character-driven stories with fantastic backdrops. Even without much dialogue, the film’s city-scapes, strange characters, and romping music have been praised as by reviewers around the world.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


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