10-year-old Indian picked up for prestigious film festival SAFO 2003

MUMBAI: The young Arun V's Penguins To The Zoo, a Toonz Animation India film, has been shortlisted for screening in the competition category of the prestigious Ottawa 2003 International Student Animation Festival (SAFO 2003).

SAFO is a much-celebrated event for the animation industry, quite like the Cannes or Oscar for the movies. The Ottawa 2003 Animation Festival is slated to run from 16 through 19 October at the National Archives of Canada. Figuring on the competition jury are some of the prominent names in the animation world - Marcel Jean of Canada, Oscar Grillo from Argentina/UK, Martha Colburn and Richard O'Connor of USA.

The festival is considered a showcase for the finest emerging animation talent from around the world. Penguins to the Zoo is one among the 65 films selected for screening at SAFO from a record number of 1,200 entries received for the competition segment this year.

A Class V student of St. Joseph's School in Trivandrum, Arun says it was his uncle who inspired him to develop the story. Written and directed by the ten-year-old boy, the film is an entertaining story of a group of penguins that have a fun-filled adventure, when the truck in which they are transferred to the zoo breaks down giving them a chance to explore the urban jungle.

Yet another feather in the cap of Toonz Animation India, Penguins to the Zoo, along with the other films that have fetched honours for Toonz this year, are all an outcome of the Children'z Animation Workshop conducted by Toonz during the summer of 2002.

The workshop is an annual event, sponsored and conducted by Toonz Animation India. It is designed to promote animation among children who are invited from all over India to submit their story ideas and drawings for making a 2-3 minute cartoon. The best ideas are chosen and the children along with their parents are invited to the Toonz studios in Trivandrum to attend the workshop and direct the pre-production of their films. The children work with writers and artists refining their scripts, further developing their characters and determining the style of the animation for the short films.

Earlier this year in May, Penguins To The Zoo had bagged the Honour's Award at the Kalamazoo Animation Festival International (KAFI), USA, where six other Toonz films had made it to the finals. In fact, all the four top honours at KAFI 2003 had been clean swept by Toonz' films. Cute Bunny, written and directed by Manasa Rao, walked away with the gold while 123 Math Toon, written and directed by Akhilesh Anandh bagged the silver and The Flame Who Loved To Dance written and directed by Ujwal Nair picked up the bronze.

"The honours being received by various films at different international festivals just underscore the difference Toonz Animation India has been able to make in unearthing animation talent in this part of the world," says Toonz CEO Bill Dennis.

Toonz Animation India, located strategically inside the Technopark in Trivandrum, Kerala, is rated among the top 10 animation studios in the world. Opened in the fall of 1999, it is the most advanced studio in India since the country emerged as a potential player in the international animation industry. With offices in Tokyo and Brisbane and a staff of over 400 Indian and international artists, Toonz is also a publisher of comic books and strips. Better known for its television series The Adventures of Tenali Raman, Toonz has recently been in the news for its series on Hanuman titled Adventures of Hanuman.

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