Deadline: EXTENDED to March 11, 2024
Guest curator: Eve Benhamou
By looking at the winners from the category of Best Animated Feature Film that the Oscars created in the early 2000s, it seems that the area of animation has been dominated by Hollywood, namely a handful of studios including Pixar, Disney, and more recently Sony Pictures Animation. A closer look at the total Oscar nominations reveals a more complex picture of contemporary productions. From the recurring presence of animations from Aardman (United Kingdom) and Cartoon Saloon (Ireland), to this year’s nomination of the French and Spanish co-production Robot Dreams (2023), European animated feature films have consistently received critical acclaim, occupying a notable place within the international market for animation.
Most studies dedicated to specific animation studios have in a similar way focused on examples from the United States, where Disney, Warner Bros., as well as Pixar and DreamWorks are considered as ‘auteurs’, foregrounding a distinctive style of aesthetic, recognizable narratives and recurring genres. However, more recent scholarship sheds light on new geographical areas, and rely on theoretical approaches beyond such questions of authorship, exploring modes of production and the development of these productions within particular historical, political and technical contexts.
European animation studios represent a fascinating object of study from these new perspectives and approaches. While at the same time collaborating with American studios as well as challenging their practices, establishing European partnerships and highlighting national specificities, they can claim to belong both to auteur and mainstream cinema. Their specific material, economic and sociocultural context requires further examination.
The guest curator for this theme and the editors of the blog invite contributions that explore European animation studios through a wide range of perspectives: sociological, cultural, technical and aesthetic approaches. We invite the contributors to reflect on the differences of national contexts, studios’ adaptation to new technologies, their distinct styles, and other topics related to commonalities and differences between European animation producers. By investigating the diversity of European animation studios, as well as their converging points, the guest curator and the editors hope to provide insights into contemporary European animation cinema.
Topics may include, but are not limited to:
- The distinctive style or ‘brand’ of individual European animation studios, such as by their link to national cinema and culture, and the influence of geographical, political and economic contexts for their operation and development of productions;
- Co-productions and partnerships between European studios and globally with e.g. the United States, Asia, Africa, etc.
- The risks and challenges of digital processes and CGI within the European context for the appropriation of, resistance and hybrid approaches to computer graphics research in Europe;
- The representation of European animation studios in films, media, promotional materials, etc.;
- The European animation studio as a work environment for creatives, producers and management.
We welcome posts that are between 600 and 900 words discussing any aspect of the above topics. Please forward the contribution as a Word document, and contributors are encouraged to include at least one image (jpeg) to visually support their post (less than 2 MB in size per image). Please also include a short bio of 100 words max and 3 keywords. All permissions are the responsibility of the contributor.
This curated theme marks the upcoming conference Animation studios in Europe: Contexts, connections and representations that Eve Benhamou is also co-organizing, and which is held at the University Paris 8 Vincennes – Saint Denis in June 2024. Please find more information about the conference here.