Thanks to its excellent institutions, French animation film industry sells abroad very well. That's another "French touch" that the world loves.
For about 20 years, animation film has been one of the French specialities. French talents are trained in institutions famous throughout the world and employed in studios all over the world.
A world-famous animation production
In 2005, the British Film Institute published a list of the 50 films you should see by the age of 14 Next to classics such as Charlie Chaplin's The Kid, The wizard of Oz or E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, you can find Kirikou and the Sorcress, by Michel Ocelot. When it was released in 1998, the animation film marked the start of the golden age of French animation industry.
In the Oscars ceremony for best animation film, an award created in 2002, small French productions often stand up to blockbusters from Disney or others (The Triplets of Belleville in 2003, Persepolis in 2008, The Illusionist in 2011, A cat in Paris in 2012 and recently Ernest & Celestine in 2014).
French Touch also sells abroad in cartoons
In France, this success is due to a dense network of trainings, companies and opportunities in animation filmmaking. Gobelins, Supinfocom (now 2 different entities, MOPA in Arles and Supinfocom Rubika in Valenciennes), La Poudrière…: French schools are renowned throughout the world.
There is a lot of excitement about French Touch in electronic music, but the same is true with animation filmmaking, and French skills are much demanded. The US particularly praise the subtlety of the line and the precision of movements à la française. Louis Clichy, the filmmaker of Asterix: the Land of the Gods, studied in Gobelins and formerly worked at Pixar studios. He speaks about all this excitement: "At Pixar, everybody knew and admired The Triplets of Belleville. The French definitely have their own style."
Spread of know-how or brain drain?
Since the Gobelins started to offer an academic training in 74, about 80 specialised schools were opened. This is a real talent pool for Disney, Pixar and Dreamworks who don't hesitate to poach students as soon as they have finished their studies.
That's where the shoe pinches. Though the French are talented, national production can't follow the pace. The biggest employer in France in this field is the animation studio Mac Guff and belongs to an American group. Moïra Marguin, academic manager of the animation film department in the Gobelins, is determined to face this reality. "Heavy industry is gone, all is left is our capacity to create. We will need to fight to keep our French touch."