Nelvana takes on the festival circuit with first-ever short

The Most Magnificent Thing eyes a globe-spanning festival run as the animation prodco aims to showcase its in-house abilities to the worldwide market.

Corus Entertainment’s animation and distribution arm Nelvana announced it would venture into new territory in 2018 with the creation of its first-ever animated short, The Most Magnificent Thing. Now the short is heating up in the festival circuit, with Montreal’s Fantasia Film Festival (July 11 to Aug. 1) next on the docket.

The festival run is a crucial part of the overall marketing campaign, according to Pamela Slavin, supervising producer at Corus Entertainment, who tells Playback Daily it is “a learning experience” for the company on how the festival circuit works. Following Fantasia, The Most Magnificent Thing is headed to a number of festivals around the world, including the Anima Mundi International Animation Festival in Brazil (July 17 to 28), the Giffoni Film Festival in Italy (July 24 to 26), where it will compete for the Griffin Award, as well as festivals in Kosovo, Mexico and Australia. The festival run will wrap at the Global Film Festival Awards in Los Angeles on Dec. 1, competing for Best Animation Short.

The short has already garnered festival success, earning Best Children’s and Youth Production at the Yorkton Film Festival in Saskatchewan on May 25. Since then it has traveled to a number of festivals in the U.S., such as the Georgia Shorts Film Festival on June 14, where it competed for best animation, and the Jersey Shore Film Festival on June 23 in New Jersey. The short also screened in Croatia on June 3 for its Animafest Zagreb.

The Most Magnificent Thing boasts significant star power for Nelvana’s first animated short. It stars Canadian actress Alison Pill (American Horror Story, Star Trek: Picard), who provides the voice of the mother of a young girl (Lilly Bartlam) who sets out to create the “most magnificent thing” along with her canine sidekick. Oscar winner Whoopi Goldberg narrates the short.

The film was created to “showcase Nelvana as a world-class leader in animation,” according to Slavin. It was also a chance to allow their in-house animators to experiment with their animation style, saying that they carefully designed the details on the dog’s fur and intentionally softened the CG to create a warmer atmosphere.

The IP was sourced in-house, coming from Corus Entertainment-owned children’s publisher Kids Can Press. Thanks to its ties to the publisher, Nelvana was already aware of its market success potential, especially with educators, according to Slavin. She says that made it the right choice as the prodco’s first animated short.

The short will be available to audiences in the fall, with YTV set to air the broadcast premiere. Nelvana also has a number of licensing deals in the works for after the festival run, according to Slavin, with interest coming in from broadcasters and VOD providers. The studio is also in the process of looking for its next animated short project, with plans to mine from Corus’ existing IP library, including potential properties from Kids Can Press.

“We hope this is the first of many,” says Slavin.