Feature animation is BOOMING, there’s no doubt about
that. Features are now coming from far more places that they were even just 10
years ago. However, instead of a broader range of genres, there’s been a reduction
down to pretty much one: comedy. Of course the reduction in styles is far more
pronounced (CGI uber alles) but that was an obvious step given the crashing
costs of technology relative to traditional, hand-drawn features and audience’s
apparent lust for anything even barely resembling a Pixar film.
So if you didn’t know any better, you’d be tempted to
think that all feature animation was CGI and Pixar was the crowd that started
it all. If you did know better, you’d likely think that feature animation had
gone a bit stale with Studio Ghibli being the sole outpost for what could be
considered ‘true’ animation.
Thank the heavens then, that many in the industry have
a creative vision that’s far more diverse that what current output suggests.
The recently concluded Cartoon Movie event in Lyon in France showcased ideas from 750
(yes, that’s seven hundred and fifty) participants all clamouring for funding
for their animated ideas.
The picture above is merely a small sample of what was
to be found at the event but provides solid proof that feature animation
remains extremely vibrant. The complete list shows a multitude of ideas with a thorough mix of
styles that ought to make us wonder how things here in the States have been
allowed to become so homogenous.
We can also look forward to some of them already. Jack
and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart has found US distribution (through Shout! Factory), as has Cartoon Saloon’s Song of the Sea (through
previous partner GKIDS).
Both deals are a good sign, but still only represent a
very small portion of the massive feature animation market that is dominated by
large players hitched to the comedy bandwagon. Nevertheless, Cartoon Movie
proves that artists and studios are willing, and given the right financing,
able, to create and release innovative animated films that prove the medium is
very far from being stale.