VARIETY 9th June, 2017 | By Elsa Keslassy
Indie Sales Boards Topical Animated Documentary ‘Zero Impunity’ (EXCLUSIVE)
Paris-based company Indie Sales (“My Life as a Zucchini”) has come on board “Zero Impunity,” an ambitious animated documentary film which is part of a transmedia project combining investigative journalism and activism aimed at combatting sexual violence in armed conflicts.
Based on six in-depth investigations spearheaded by 11 female journalists, the documentary weaves animated sequences chronicling stories of sexual violence in times of war across the world, notably in Ukraine and Syria, with live action segments featuring survivors, whistle-blowers and psychologists.
“Zero Impunity” marks the feature debut of transmedia experts Nicolas Blies, Stéphane Hueber-Blies (“Soundhunters”) and 2D animation supervisor/storyboard artist Denis Lambert.
Melusine Productions, a leading European studio whose credits include “The Breadwinner,” “Ernest & Celestine” and “The Congress,” is creating the animation which promises to showcase an artful hand-drawn look. On top of directing, Blies and Hueber-Blies are also producing with Marion Guth via their Luxembourg-based banner a_BAHN, whose credits include the interactive music docu “Soundhunters” made for Arte.
Having previously nabbed two awards at the Biaritz-based FIPA festival, “Zero Impunity” will be pitched next week in Annecy as part of the work-in-progress program, ahead of its theatrical release in France during the first half of 2018.
Eleanor Coleman, head of animation and new media acquisitions at Indie Sales, described “Zero Impunity” as “a native transmedia project with a universal theme and a feature film at its heart.”
“We had been looking for a global new media project to get involved with for some time and we instantly understood that it was a perfect match with a_BAHN, sharing the same desire to support women around the world and make a difference,” said Coleman, who added that she’s now looking forward to collaborating with a_BAHN on further transmedia films and VR content.
Blies said “Zero Impunity” aimed to “generate empathy within the audience so that people will mobilize and commit to lobbying for action. For now, our governments and our international institutions are incapable of punishing these crimes. The liberation of the voices happens here and now.”
Hueber-Blies, meanwhile, explained that “animation has a very strong impact by showing violent situations without offending the audience in a way that live action can’t achieve, while the feature’s narration will be built around live testimonies of the victim or key protagonists.”
A multi-pronged initiative,”Zero Impunity” boasts editorial, interactive and activist components which will be described in a book that will be released in France during the last quarter of this year.
Since January, the six investigative reports have been published on high-profile publications across Europe: Mediapart in France, Internazionale in Italy and InfoLibre in Spain. So far, the reports have been read by an estimated 900.000 people and have enrolled 332.000 citizens who signed petitions asking for specific measures, such as the creation of an educational program raising awareness about sexual violence in French military schools.
The United Nations will then be hosting the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict in Paris on June 19.
Those who signed the petitions will have the opportunity to participate in the march in real time by creating their own avatar. Similar initiatives will be staged outside France around the release of “Zero Impunity.”
Martin Gondre, festivals and marketing manager at Indie Sales, praised a_BAHN and Marion Guth, a “feminist and engaged producer” for developing such an ambitious initiative.
“The idea is to allow international festivals and distributors to offer a different, engaged global experience to their audiences by distributing a one stop tailor-made ‘transmedia package’ together with the film, including the possibility of screening the 3D live march, boarding an exposition around the investigations and sharing live short videos on social media with extended content easily adapted for festivals and international distributors,” explained Gondre.
Camera Talk (“Soundhunters”) and Webspider are co-producing “Zero Impunity.” Film Fund Luxembourg and the French National Film Board CNC are also backing the project.
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