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Korean Animation Flies Forward with "Leafie" Updated: 2011-05-20 00:00:00 KST

The world's film industry have come together once again in Cannes!

At the 64th Cannes Film festival, the Korean animation film "Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" received special attention from foreign buyers.

The film was introduced with other Korean movies at the Cannes Film Market.

It is the first Korean animation film to receive such special treatment.

The production company's aggressive marketing tactics have succeeded in attracting many foreign buyers and contracts.

[Interview : Jayden, Buyer
Sweden] "I thought it was very original, not too much of stuff we've seen before. It has a strong story with many interesting changes, lots of colorful characters, plenty of action.
It's a universal subject that is not only limited to Asian audiences. There are animals all over the world, it's very easy to relate to them, they're very likable characters. It's very important. That makes the film cross over."

"Leafie" will also become the first movie ever to open simultaneously in Korea and China. It has already secured 1,000 Chinese screens.

The movie depicts the adventures of Leafie, a hen who escapes a chicken farm, and a baby mallard named Greenie.

[Interview : Shim Jae-myeong, CEO of a movie production company] "I thought that Korea needed animation films that had the same quality as movies from Hollywood or Japan."

As of 2011, the animated movie market is worth US$14.5 billion worldwide. Dozens of animated movies are newly created each year to delight the audiences.

However, the animated movie market in Korea only pulls in US$400 million, and even that small market had been brought to a standstill by the failure of recent animated films. "Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" hopes to change all of that.

[Interview : Oh Seong-yun, Director
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild"] "We began with the original story, which was new, strong, and acclaimed. It sold over a million copies, and we spent about three years focusing on the screenplay."

The movie is based on an original story published in 2000. The story is not only popular, selling over a million copies, but also widely recognized for its literary value, and is included in the curriculum of elementary schools. Author Hwang Seon-mi says that she wanted to write a story with a universal theme.

[Interview : Hwang Seon-mi, Author
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" ] "This is a story that challenges the borders between people and animals. After readers finish the book, they feel that the story is about them. The story appeals to a universal emotion, which I think is the key to its success. The hen isn't an amazing animal. It's weak, and common. But even a hen had a dream, which was to hatch her own egg. The story revolves around the process of making that dream come true."

Deviating from the current 3D trend, the producers chose to return to classic 2D animation to maximize the emotional effects of a storybook.

[Interview : Oh Seong-yun, Director
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild"] "Natural scenery made up 99% of our movie. 3D animation usually focuses on creating virtual space and objects, so we chose to work in 2D. The emotions that can be delivered to children and families through 2D seemed to be much better suited to the original story."

The life of any animated movie is in the voice-overs! For "Leafie, a Hen into the Wild," Korea's most renowned actors brandished their best voice talents.

The all-star cast includes Moon So-ri[문소리], Yoo Seung-ho[유승호], Choi Min-sik[최민식], and Park Cheol-min[박철민]. Moon So-ri, who played the part of Leafie while pregnant, awed the production team with her passionate voice acting.

[Interview : Choi Min-sik, Voice of "Wanderer"
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild"] "They're animated characters, but they're so well-created that it's like watching a regular film movie. It's very interesting."

"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" chose an unusual production procedure for Korean animated movies. The actors first came together in 2009 for a pre-recording. The artwork was created based on this, and in 2011 the actors were called back for the final recording. This three-step process ensured that the voices and artwork would be as closely matched as possible.

[Interview : Moon So-ri, Voice of "Leafie"
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild"] "The actors created the characters on their own, and the drawings were created to match those characters. Then we recorded again. This process hopefully is more effective in delivering the emotions of the movie to the audience."

"Leafie" also gave special attention to music.

In March, the soundtrack was recorded in Prague with the Czech National Symphony Orchestra.

"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" was born from many new challenges and innovative ideas. Its quality has been acknowledged by critics from all over the world.

The production team has nothing but high hopes for the film.

[Interview : Oh Seong-yun, Director
"Leafie, a Hen into the Wild"] "There were a few landmark Korean movies that acted as catalysts for the development of the entire industry, such as "Shiri" or "Joint Security Area." My greatest objective is to have "Leafie, a Hen into the Wild" become another turning point, one that will boost the Korean animation movie industry."

Animated films have been a small presence in the Korean movie industry to date.

All eyes are on "Leafie, a Hen into the Wild," to watch and see if that trend can now be changed.

With an all-star cast, a heartwarming story depicted with state-of-the-art technology, and a fantastic soundtrack, "Leafie" will certainly make the Korean animation industry soar up into new skies.


Wow, very cute characters.
And it's amazing that they've already secured 1,000 screens in China and buyers from around the world.
That $400 million a year revenue figure for the industry is sure to move up quickly with more animation films like this.
The animation skills are of course very important but it all begins with a great story which we know from Korean dramas Koreans are extremely good at.
Well, let's hope all of this hardwork translates into a turning point for the industry.
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