Introduced last year, MIA’s dedicated animation program heads into its sophomore edition with a more firmly entrenched industry position and a resoundingly global outlook. With the program scaffolding already in place, MIA curators spent the past year shoring up support and scouting for projects at key markets in Berlin, Cannes and Annecy, resulting in a program of roughly 30 co-production pitch projects and works-on-progress that altogether spans more than 40 countries.
The rise in animation studios across the African continent will be a major theme of this year’s edition, with nearly one third of the co-production pitch projects coming from Africa-based studios. Among them, titles like Ama Adi-Dako’s “Drumland,” Jérémie Becquer and Julien Becquer’s “Mia Moké,” Esmail Zalat’s “The Prey” and Kay Carmichael’s “Troll Girl” will bring studios based in Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon, Egypt and South Africa into the fold.
Meanwhile, on the conference side, an Oct. 10 panel called “Africa Roars!” will reflect this industry growth with a spotlight on the Disney+ African futurist anthology series “Kizazi Moto: Generation Fire,” and the work of animation studios from across the continent. Triggerfish CEO Stuart Forrest will share the stage with The Hidden Hand co-founder Lesego Vorster, Creatures Animation Studio CEO Raymond Malinga and moderator Mounia Aram for a panel that stretches across South Africa, Uganda and Morocco.
Mexican co-production pitch project “The Last Wave,” from directors Douglas Enrique Gomez Mendiburu and Joe Alanís, and Mexican-Canadian animation showcase title “My Brother the Monster,” from Gasolino and Arcana Studios, will both offer a glimpse of North American might from outside the U.S., while roughly half the selected projects are already international co-productions. The Spanish-Indian “Miniraja,” produced by Maria Bonaria Fois, is one such unconventional pairing.
By way of industry trends, program curators have seen (what was once industry standard) polished 3D give way to 2D textures at once messier, flatter, and closer to the inked lines of the page – in keeping with the aesthetic overhaul kicked off by 2018’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” and furthered by this summer’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” among others.
Conference planners will also stress animation’s interdisciplinary bona fides. Though “Waltz with Bashir” director Ari Folman will not be able to travel for a scheduled talk about animated non-fiction, on-site attendees will consider what role advanced language models like ChatGPT might play in the future of the medium with a new-media focused panel.