Magazine article Variety

Gkids Toons in to 2D

Magazine article Variety

Gkids Toons in to 2D

Article excerpt

New York-based distrib Gkids made a big splash at the recent Annecy fest, which drew buyers from around the world looking for the kind of animated art films that are the event's stock in trade.

Gkids picked up three films for U.S. distribution in as many days at the fest: Joann Sfar's "The Rabbi's Cat," Remi Bezancon and Jean-Christophe Lie's "Zarafa" and Goro Miyazaki's "From Up on Poppy Hill," from Japan's Studio Ghibli.

That acquisition flurry is the latest sign of GKids' headlong dive into what founder Eric Beckman sees as an underserved market in the U.S. - lovers of artsy, auteur-driven animation for children and adults.

It's a market Beckman knows well. He inaugurated the New York Intl. Children's Film Festival in 1997; the event has been a sellout every year since 2000. He launched Gkids in 2009, targeting the kind of foreign 2D toons the fest frequently features.

With France leading the way, European animation production has bulked up dramatically over the past decade, helping to make Gkids business model a viable one in the U.S. According to France's Centre National du Cinema et L'image animée, the country produced 10 auteur-driven toons last year, like "A Cat in Paris," up from three in 2002.

Gkids is planning to distribute 8-10 films a year, "some limited, some wider," Beckman says. In January, it became the first U.S. indie distrib to net two animated feature Academy Award noms in the same yean Spain's "Chico & Rita" and France's "A Cat in Paris."

A 13-pic Studio Ghibli retrospective that Gkids is distributing, now rolling out across the U. …

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