January 23rd, 2009

drawing, old man

Overview of upcoming Russian animated features: part 18

Our Masha in the Strawberry Country (Dec. 18, 2008) (who knows?)
The New Adventures of Alyonushka and Yeryoma (Dec. 25, 2008)
The Tale of Fedot the Strelets (Jan. 1, 2009) (Dec. 18, 2008)
Ivan Tsarevich and Grey Wolf (Feb. 1, 2009)
Alice's Birthday (Feb. 19, 2009)
Star Dogs: Belka and Strelka (Dec. 31, 2009)
Alien Pile (likely 2009)
A Room and a Half, or A Sentimental Journey to the Homeland (likely 2009)
Little Muk and the Pirates of the Caspian Sea (maybe 2009)
Kin-dza-dza-dza! (2010)
The Ugly Duckling (~2011)
Blue Beard (????)
New Buttermilk Village (????)
Mad Hair (????)
Gofmaniada (maybe 2009)
Sapsan (possibly March 19, 2009)
The Pirates of Treasure Island (maybe 2010)

Release date: Maybe 2009
Director: Makoto Nakamura (unofficial information)
Studio: Ffango Entertoyment
Budget: ?
75 minutes

This upcoming feature film features the famous Russian literary and cartoon character Cheburashka, and the plan is apparently to "remake the original shorts as a feature film".

This is not really a Russian film, although an unidentified Russian company is working on the art direction, and the language to be used within the film itself is Russian (an English version is being made simultaneously). Funding is being provided by the Japanese companies Tokyo TV Broadband and Frontier Work, with the unidentified director also being Japanese. The actual work is being done in South Korea at the Ffango Entertoyment studio, and an extremely large number of pictures from its production can be seen on their website.

Here are some of them:
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Personally, I have mixed feelings. The original shorts are classics, so is there really a point in remaking them? The puppets do look nice, but what is Cheburashka doing with what looks like a cigarette in his mouth?


The history of this project actually seems to have begun with Aleksandr Tatarskiy and Pilot Studio, believe it or not. Here is a translation of the relevant segment from a 2004 Russian-language interview with Ivan Maximov:

Does the government participate in the fates of private studios?

- If it participates, it is on the common ground of being an equal business partner. For example, Pilot Studio, one of the biggest studios in the country today, theoretically could be taking money from the government. But there is, as a rule, a kind of tension between them. Simply because of the character of the people working there. Because the government is always a bit like a mafia, which can hurt a man or spit on him. And consequently, one can either enter into this system, or confront it.

And is that what "Pilot" is doing?

- Basically yes. The studio has very rarely received money from Goskino in recent years, because for this you need to enter into the system. As far as I know, they were making a continuation of the adventures of Cheburashka - a feature-length 3D film in the style of Shvartsman's original shorts. The film was like a puppet film, but transferred into the computerized 3D format to make things easier. The screenplay was written with humour and fantasy. But a big project requires reliable resources, and it is currently frozen, because there was not enough money. But a project called "Russian Folk Tales" is being readied - mainly drawn animation, several directors simultaneously working on many different folk tales.

In 2004, Pilot Studio was a very different place, and its main income came from its sub-studio Pilot TV, which mainly produced animated political satire (those projects went off the air as the government closed Russia's independent TV channels). That last project that Maximov talked about became the famous and acclaimed "Mountain of Gems" series, which did manage to receive government support. So the "Cheburashka" project seemed dead, like so many of Pilot's other plans.


Then, on April 12, 2006, TV Tokyo Broadband released a press release announcing its intentions.

On May 17, 2007, another article appeared, giving some more details and suggesting that the film would be released in summer of 2008. That obviously did not happen, but judging by the studio's website, production is in full swing right now.