GFM Animation has secured key territory deals including France on Ozi – Voice Of The Forest, which had its world premiere at Annecy International Animation Film Festival this week.
Following its market launch at Cannes last month, the film has secured sales for France (KMBO), Switzerland (Praesens), CIS (Volga), Poland (Kinoswiat), former Yugoslavia (Investacommerce), South Korea (Korea Screen), Vietnam (Blue Lantern), South Africa (FilmFinity), Turkey (Filmarti), the Middle East (ECS), Israel and Greece (Tanweer), Portugal (Pris) and Iceland (Myndform).
Deals for the UK, Germany, Italy and Spain are all in negotiation. The team of producers, led by Hollywood veteran producer Mike Medavoy are in negotiations for a theatrical release deal across North America. Theatrical releases are planned for the majority of other territories.
Directed by UK filmmaker Tim Harper, Ozi is a family animation that tells the story of the titular orphaned orangutan, who uses her skills as an influencer to save her forest and home from deforestation.
It is produced by Graham Appleby for his UK firm GCI Film, with Medavoy for Mike Medavoy Productions, alongside DiCaprio for his Appian Way Productions, and Rodrigo Blaas, Keith Chapman, Adam Stanhope and Ramsay McBean. Jennifer Davisson, Phillip Watson and Julien Meesters are the executive producers for Appian way. The film also features a title song by 14-time best original song Oscar nominee Diane Warren, who received an Academy honorary award at last year’s ceremony. The film also features a title song from 14-time best original song Oscar nominee Diane Warren, who received an Academy honorary award at last year’s ceremony.
Two dangersHaving begun his career at Universal Studios in 1964, Medavoy has worked on 324 films; he was a close collaborator and friend of Marlon Brando, and is co-executor of Brando’s estate.Ozi
is Medavoy’s first animated film. He says he was drawn to the project by the need to counter “two of the three most dangerous things that we’re facing – artificial intelligence and climate change.”
“People have been working on climate problems for a while; I don’t think the whole world has settled on it yet,” said Medavoy. “A lot governments are beginning to believe that we have a problem.” Leo
, a friend of mine, has also gotten into .”
The goal with [the climate issue]Ozi[Leonardo DiCaprio], according to Blaas, a fellow producer and writer on the film, is to create entertainment as a means to later effect changes in society. “It’s movie entertainment,” said Blaas. “We are trying to show the emotional journey of a daughter who is changing her parents’ perspective. The audience, especially children, will watch this film not to become activists, but because they are the next generation of entrepreneurs, lawyers, and government officials. The aim is to tell a compelling story that touches and entertains audiences.”
“We’re not trying to preach to anybody,” added Medavoy. The producer said that the danger of AI is not the technology but the people. He said that this is linked to the third threat to the world, unstable leaders. Medavoy said that it only takes one person – if we want to be political, I’d say Putin – to decide to use nuclear weapons. “If those of us who have the power to write or do things don’t do something about it, we’re doomed.”The legendary producer’s credits include Terrence Malick’s The Thin Red Line
, David Fincher’s
Zodiac and Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan, all produced through Phoenix Pictures, which he co-founded in 1995, having previously co-founded Orion Pictures in 1978 and been chairman of TriStar Pictures from 1990 to 1994.Medavoy expressed his affection for two longstanding industry components: Screen International – “I have been reading for years” – and Cannes Film Festival. Medavoy said that he liked Cannes, the festival where he received a lifetime achievement award. “It’s holding onto the dream of movies. Netflix won’t come along.” Netflix doesn’t come along.”