By Catherine Scott | The Playlist January 25, 2011 at 6:09AM
Production forum Cartoon Movie will take place March 2-4 in Lyon, France. The conference is a place for European animated films to find financing for the in-progress movies and distributors for the completed ones. Among the films unspooling at the forum this year are Tim Ollive’s “1884,” Patrice Leconte’s “The Suicide Shop” and Fernando Trueba’s “Chico and Rita.”
“1884” is a futuristic fantasy, and though it’s directed by Tim Ollive, the film is getting recognition because of its producer, presenter and creative adviser, Terry Gilliam (the two have worked frequently together in the past on films like “The Life of Brian,” “The Meaning of Life,” “The Fisher King” and “The Brothers Grimm”). Most of the voice cast consists of as yet unnamed former Monty Python members. Gilliam is known for the fairytale-like quality he brings to his live-action films, so it’s no surprise that he has now segued into animation. The ambitious project “imagines a film made in 1848 with steam power, narrating a tale of laughable imperialist derring-do and espionage set in a futuristic 1884, when Europe is at war, steam-powered cars fly in the sky and man has landed on the moon.” "1884" will use actors’ filmed eyes and mouths and insert them onto CGI heads, while “backgrounds will feature collages of miniatures, film, graphics and period photography.” All of this will be done on a tiny $8 million budget. But that's not the only project that will be turning heads.
French filmmaker Patrice Leconte, know for arthouse fare “Man on a Train” and frothier pics like "My Best Friend," will show pieces of his work-in-progress “The Suicide Shop,” in the hopes of attracting financiers and a possible buyer. This movie is animated in stereoscopic 2D, like a children’s pop-up book, and clips already attracted much attention from the Annecy Animation Festival last June. Finally, Spain's Fernando Trueba’s will show off “Chico and Rita," a romantic comedy set in the 1940s Latin jazz scene. Trueba won the Oscar for Best Foreign Film in 1993 for “Belle Époque,” and his first animated effort has already earned rave reviews and had a brief UK run last fall. All three men are involved with animated films for the first time. You can check out a trailer for "Chico and Rita" and some animation tests for "1884" below.
The forum itself has seen 20% growth since last year, with 90 submissions for consideration and a growing total budget for all films at a little over $523 million. About 85 distributors and 64 investors have signed on, according to Cartoon Movie’s general director Marc Vandewyer, with over 570 participants, the festival’s highest number yet. Interest in animated films continues to grow as the market for children and young adults expands rapidly throughout the U.S. and Europe; we’ve also seen a raise in the number of adults coming to appreciate animated movies. There are a lot of projects with modern, ethnic and adult content. That's the trend this year,” Vandewyer said.