Cartoon Forum 2019 (Toulouse, 16-19 September)




Cartoon Forum seized the opportunity to take stock of its three decades of existence in an anniversary edition in which the new series of animation continue to be the leading players. Three hectic days to celebrate a Forum with a record number of participants and buyers, exciting projects and a vibrant bussiness buzz at the Pierre Baudis Congress Centre in Toulouse. The 85 selected projects showed the maturity, richness of concepts and unique creativity of European animation, which continues to build a dynamic ecosystem open to new talents and ready to face the challenges of the sector.

Cartoon Forum's 30th anniversary celebrations began with the traditional Welcome Dinner at Port Viguerie, on the banks of the river Garonne, with a record attendance of more than 1000 delegates.

For the eighth consecutive year, the city of Toulouse and the Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region showed their passion for animation hosting this landmark event. Since its creation, 787 series have secured funding for a total amount of 2.7 billion euros.

Mr Jean-Luc Moudenc, Mayor of Toulouse and President of Toulouse Métropole, and Mrs Dominique Salomon, Vice-President of the Region, welcoming speeches underlined the great momentum regional animation has gained, an accomplishment even recognized at an international level, as well as Cartoon Forum significant influence on this process.

The launch of France Televisions' new children's platform, Okoo, and this edition’s Spotlight, dedicated to the Wallonie-Bruxelles region, were also announced at the inauguration ceremony. Regarding gender-parity, women participation in the Forum reached 49.7%, and nearly 40% of the selected projects have a woman director on board.

Following the first Croissant Show, it was the turn of the leading players: the 85 new series put forward at the different pitching sessions. With a total budget of 327 million euros, the projects sum up to 500+ new hours of animation. Forum statistics help to draw a rough picture of where European animation is heading to - projects with an average cost of 3.8 million euros, and a majority of series aimed at children 6-11 years old (50%), produced in 2D (57%), and with episodes up to 7 minutes (43%).

With 26 projects, France led the selection followed by Belgium (9) Germany (7), and Ireland (6); while Denmark, Finland and Spain boast 5 projects each. Producers from 19 European countries were included in the event’s line-up. In addition, 2 Canadian and 2 Korean projects were selected by European broadcasters to pitch their series at Cartoon Forum in order to expand the collaboration already established at the Cartoon Connection events; while China, Burkina Faso and Togo acted as co-producers in some projects.

New series, new trends

The publishing industry’s interest in animation continues to grow. International publishers no longer sell adaptation rights to production companies only but are now looking for IPs to adapt into comic-books and graphic novels and are looking to position ahead in the project’s development.  During the Forum, four new publishing companies (Capstone Global Library, Clover Press, Lion Forge Animation / Magnetic Press and VIP Brands) from the sector have expressed an interest in discovering new series to try and work in collaboration with animation partners. Sixteen of the selected projects are adaptations of best-sellers and comic books such as “Goodnight Mr. Clutterbuck,” “Mousse and Bichon,” “Calamity,” “Ewilan’s Quest,” “Sprinter Galore,” “The Marsupilamis,” “Le Collège Noir,” and “Lucy Lost.”

Humour, adventure and friendship stories are featured in a selection with a rich diversity of genres-- from comedy and drama, to fantasy, slapstick, and even documentaries dealing with themes such as racism and discrimination in sports ("Some of Us"), musical biographies ("We are Family") and labour conflicts ("Struggle(s)"). 

The line-up includes series featuring inclusive content such as "Truths" - that incorporates the French sign language -, others with novel didactic approaches such as "Sex Symbols", series about sexual and affective education for pre-teens. Starring a grandfather suffering from Alzheimer's, "Captain Zheimer" aims to bring children and young people to the reality of this disease from a humorous perspective; while "Dounia" aims to help kids understand the reality of migration and the feelings of displaced children.

French animation asserts its leadership with 7 series in the 10 projects that have aroused the most interest among investors: "Mousse and Bichon" (Vivement Lundi!) – that was presented at Cartoon Springboard 2018, "Lucy Lost" (Xilam Animation), "Ewilan's Quest" (Andarta Pictures), "Digital Girl" (Cyber Group Studios), "Calamity" (Maybe Movies), "We are Family" (TeamTO), and "Belfort & Lupin" (Ellipsanime Productions). This list also features Ireland’s “Critters TV” (Turnip & Duck), Denmark’s “Hugo & Holger” (Wil Film), and Finland’s “MiniMecs”.

New talent continues to enter the sector, due partially to initiatives such as Cartoon Springboard - the pitching event for young talents of European animation schools - and the Coaching Programme, with the participation of 105 animation students from the Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region and the Wallonia-Brussels Region. The three Cartoon Springboard projects selected this year are: "Doppelgänger, Here Comes the Future!" (Amopix), "Mousse and Bichon" (Vivement Lundi!), and "The Homonobos, the Missed Link" (Des Singes Animés).

European producers are aware of the new challenges the audio-visual ecosystem has ahead. Hence the development of transmedia series and formats required by the new industry players, many of whom were represented at Cartoon Forum. Although less-than-7 minutes episodes are still the majority, several of the projects were conceived as mini-series or as series with longer episodes, meeting thus the requirements of streaming platforms.

Little giants of animation

Wallonia-Brussels Federation was the focus of this year's Spotlight, an initiative aimed at highlighting and promoting a particular European region or country. Dubbing themselves as "The Little Giants of Animation", the studios of Wallonia-Brussels displayed their talent through seven projects -"Cander & Ladilash" (Waooh!), "Crystal Tales" (Squarefish), "Juliette & Jules" (Altitude 100 production), "Quinquin" (Beluga Jungle), "The Great Dreamscape" (Kwassa Films), "The Marsupilamis" (Belvision), and “Toutmosis” (La Belge Prod). The Spotlight has also helped to promote the funds and tax incentives offered by the Federation Wallonia-Brussels, and to introduce the region's studios to the audience.

The Occitanie / Pyrénées-Mediterranée Region animation hold a special place in the Forum with four new projects: “Le Collège Noir” (Milan Presse), “Polinopolis” (coproduced by Godo Films), “Some of Us” (Bachibouzouk) and “Truths” (Les Fées Spéciales). There are not less than thirteen studios within this region strongly supporting the animation industry with different initiatives and funds.

Toulousians have enthusiastically expressed their support for the event actively participating in Les Toons Débarquent!, a local initiative promoting animation in Toulouse and the whole Region that included screenings, as well as the French avant-premieres of the new feature film of Anca Damian, "Marona's Fantatic Tale" and the new feature film of Edmunds Jansons “Jacob, Mimi and the Talking Dogs” among other activities.

Tributes for Belgium and Ireland

Belgium was the leading player of the Cartoon Tributes 2019, the awards recognising the work by companies or individuals that have substantially contributed to the development of the European animation industry over the past year. Coinciding with the Spotlight on the Wallonia- Brussels Federation animation, the Broadcaster and Producer of the Year Awards were given, respectively, to OUFtivi - the children's and family audience channel of Belgium's public broadcaster RTBF - and Panique! Brussels-based studio and creator of the cult series and feature film "Panique au village", among other titles. Belgium shared the podium with Ireland, which won the prize Investor/Distributor of the Year awarded to Telegael.

The list of nominees also included Czech Television (Czech Republic), Radio Televisión Española - RTVE (Spain), Sky (United Kingdom) and TVP ABC (Poland) in the Broadcaster of the Year category; Atmosphere Media (Germany), Cyber Group Studios (France), Ferly (Finland) and Kids First Distribution (France) in the Investor/Distributor of the Year; and Graphilm (Italy), Miyu Productions (France), Studio Soi (Germany) and Xilam Animation (France) in the Producer of the Year category.

The main partners of Cartoon Forum Toulouse are Creative Europe - MEDIA, CNC (Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée), Occitanie / Pyrénées-Méditerranée Region, Mairie de Toulouse, Toulouse Métropole, Casino Barrière and France Télévisions.

 The next edition of Cartoon Forum will take place
from 14 to 17 September 2020 in Toulouse.