Danish animation is growing both creatively and commercially. This is the message as the Danish animation industry travels to the prominent Annecy Animation Film Festival in southeastern France, launching its 2018 edition from 11 June.
"Annecy is the world's animation event number one. It's the industry's answer to Cannes," says Søren Fleng, head of the Danish Animation Society, Anis.
This year, a large Danish delegation of animation professionals are present at Annecy and are teaming up with their Nordic colleagues. For the second year running, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland and Finland are hosting a joint Nordic stand at Annecy's market event MIFA, and have launched a new website, nordicanimation.com.
Furthermore, Danish projects are showcased in the first edition of We Animate Magazine, published by Anis.
"The magazine is like an enlarged business card, something that Danish animation has lacked. Especially when communicating in an international context, it's a huge strength to be able to show the potential of Danish animation like this, both in writing and with images," says Anne Winberg, editor of We Animate Magazine and coordinating the Danish delegation at Annecy.
"The catalogue shows the impressive diversity and volume of Danish animation," adds Søren Fleng. "Of the 11 Nordic films programmed for Annecy, 8 are from Denmark. I think that's pretty unique."
Stronger than ever
"Annecy is a unique opportunity to show how big the Danish animation industry is," says Noemi Ferrer Schwenk, head of the international department at the Danish Film Institute, which is supporting the initiatives at Annecy
In fact, Danish animation hasn't been this strong in 15 years, says Noemi Ferrer Schwenk. Solid storytelling, which has long been the core of Danish animation, is now also merged with increasingly successful craftsmanship. The industry is also better organised and has become even more discerning in forming international collaborations.
"It's a business that's good at telling stories, but also at doing business. It's a pretty lucky combination," she says.
Anders Mastrup from A. Film is head of the producers' Animation Circle organisation, and he highlights the Animation Workshop in Viborg and the training in animation direction at the National Film School of Denmark as two factors that have helped strengthen Danish animation.
"The people who come from Viborg are insanely skilled," he comments, naming the company SYBO Games as an example: The creators of one of the most downloaded mobile games worldwide, 'Subway Surfers,' met at the Viborg Animation Workshop, and now they are in the process of creating a TV series together.
Drive and inventiveness
Søren Fleng believes the strength of Danish animation has several explanations.
"There is massive inventiveness, lots of drive, and we are good at working together across organisations, institutions and studios," he says.
"And then we have become very cost-effective – because it's truly the art of the impossible to produce animation in Denmark. But because the diversity is so big, it is still possible to attract international partners," says Søren Fleng, referring to Denmark not having a tax rebate incentive like other European countries to attract international film productions.
"This is our greatest challenge," he believes. "Consequently, it is even more important that we stand together in the Danish industry and present ourselves jointly to an international audience," he says.
Annecy International Animation Film Festival runs 11-16 June 2018. See more at annecy.org.