Athens Animation Forum

Athens Animation Agora symposium brought together an international network of creative professionals in the animation industry
Reportage: Nancy Denney-Phelps -
Animasyros is a major Greek animation festival held on the island of Syros at the end of September.  This year festival President Vassilis Karamitsanis and Director Maria Anestopoulou also decided to launch the Athens Animation Agora symposium.  Held in Athens three days prior to the festival, the symposium brought together an international network of creative professionals in the animation industry. Coordinated by Marineta Mak Kritikou, the three days were packed full of presentations and pitching sessions.  Numerous topics were covered including sales and distribution, content for children’s films to video games in roundtable discussions with experts who really knew their stuff.Seven works in progress were pre-selected to be pitched at Athens Animation Agora.  Prior to the directors presenting their pitches they attended two sessions of Scripting Your Perfect Pitch with Tunde Vollenbroek.  Tunde is a producer at Studio Pupil in Amsterdam so she has had a great deal of experience pitching projects.
I found several of the projects extremely interesting.  The Classmate by Anastasia Dimitra will be a six-minute 2D pixilation film.  The story revolves around a teenage girl who is dealing with life via her diary entries.  She observes and analyzes a classmate’s bad behavior because it symbolizes everything that she does not want to be.  As the girl grows up the memories of her classmate become the version of herself that she doesn’t want to face.Thomas Kunstler pitched his feature film Markos which is in early development.  It is a biographical stop motion project following the extraordinary life of Markos Vamvakaris from his youth in Syros, Greece to fame in Athens and his eventual decline.  Markos was the most renowned rebetiko musician in Greece.  Rebetiko is an integral part of Greek culture, often called the “Blues of Greece”.  Director Kunstler plans for his 105-minute film to have an international release.Polyphemus, pitched by twin brothers Yiannis and Konstantinos Andrias, was the project that I found most intriguing.  The giant Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon and Thoosa in Greek mythology and one of the Cyclopes described in Homer’s Odyssey.The brothers want to bring Greek legends to life with a new twist, telling Polyphemus’ story from his point of view.  The 26-minute animation begins 33 days after Polyphemus, was blinded by Odysseus.  If you’re not up on your Greek history and don’t remember why Odysseus blinded Polyphemus you need to read Homer’s Odyssey, it’s much too long and complicated for me to explain here.  After the blinding, the legendary supervillain Polyphemus has to face new challenges and prove that he is worthy of his name which means abounding in songs and legends.  The film will be a combination of 3D animation with motion capture.  After seeing a small clip from the film I look forward to watching the completed film in the future.
Three of the pitched projects were selected by Tunde and Agora organizer Mak Kritikou to be presented at the official Pitching Forum at Animasyros 11.  The three projects selected were Find Me, With Love directed by Effie Pappa, Markos by Thomas Kunstler, and XinXin Liu’s Toto’s House.Find Me, With Love is planned as a ten-minute stop-motion animation about Alzheimer’s and lost memories.  At the other end of the spectrum, Toto’s House is designed to be twelve episodes of five minutes each. XinXin explained the series as characters from famous paintings that visit Toto and his dog Huge at their home. It looked extremely colorful and absurd.Along with the pitching sessions, the three-day event was packed full of presentations and roundtable discussions.  I had an opportunity to spend time with Sophia Madouvalou and Aristarchos  Papadaniel and to learn about their project A Letter – A Story before they presented it as part of the Kids Content Roundtable.Sofia is a noted Greek children’s book author.  A Letter – A Story is an interactive web-based animated multimedia learning series based on her artwork and directed by Aristarchos.  Its aim is to support the teaching of the Greek alphabet to kindergartner and first graders.  Children are familiarized with the letters and sounds of the alphabet through games based on 24 five minute episodes which correspond to the 24 letters of the Greek alphabet.
Kids' Content round-table - L-R: Irene Andriopoulis, Depi Vrettou, Erik Tijmen, Samira Haddi, Sophia Madouvalou and Aristarchos Papadani     A Letter – A Story is designed to be used in the classroom by teachers via an interactive whiteboard and/or by students in a computer lab or with a parent at home.  Although designed specifically for children, it could be used by anyone who wants to learn Greek.  Sophia told me that she hasa received letters from all over the world from people who have used A Letter – A Story to teach themselves Greek.  It has also been used by people of Greek origin who live in other parts of the world to teach their native language to their children.
Erik Tijman, head of film and television at Cinekid Festival was also a member of the Kid’s Content Round-table.  Cinekid Festival is the largest children’s media festival in the world.  Located in Amsterdam, Cinekid is designed for kids from 4 to 14 years old to watch film, television, and new video productions.  They can also explore the Media Lab which extends over a 1,200 square meter building and is filled with interactive art installations, workshops, games, and apps.  Erik also explained that Cinekid is not just a festival.  During the year Cinekid travels throughout the Netherlands to bring film and workshops to young people.  Cinekid For Professionals is an international multi-day event for the children’s media industry running concurrent to the festival.
Another interesting project aimed primarily at children and young people but relevant to all ages is Save Your Planet.  Tassos Kotsiras has created a humorous, easy to understand animated series about the environment.  The aim of the series is to raise awareness of ever-increasing environmental problems and show people how they can make small changes in their lives that will collectively make a difference in the environment for future generations in an entertaining, non-preachy manner.
Nancy and Marineta Mak Kritikou with Lefteris Krutsos, Deputy Minister of Digital Policy, Telecommunications and MediaPitching MarkosYiannis and Konstantinos Andrias pitching PolyphemusKids' Content round-table - L-R: Irene Andriopoulis, Depi Vrettou, Erik Tijmen, Samira Haddi, Sophia Madouvalou and Aristarchos PapadanielMArk Mullery and Nora El Bekri
TV Paint, an all-inclusive, all-around tool for the creation of traditional 2D animation, was the topic of the Software Showcase.  Mark Mullery, Technical Director at Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, gave an in-depth presentation on the uses of TV Paint in the 2D animated feature film The Breadwinner.  Mark told us that the film was the work of over 100 artists across three countries and the fruit of both 21st Century technology (TV Paint) and age-old hand-drawn techniques.  He is currently the assistant director on Tomm Moore’s upcoming feature film Wolfwalkers.
In honor of Mark Mullery and Cartoon Saloon’s participation in Athens Animation Agora Marianne Bolger, Deputy Head of Mission at the Irish Embassy in Greece, gave a short presentation about Ireland.  That was followed by Mark introducing a special screening of The Breadwinner. Nora El Bekri, French sales agent for TV Paint, also gave a brief overview of the uses for her product.I was extremely honored to be invited to moderate the Festival Round-table Discussion.  Joining me were Karin Vandenrydt, Sanja Cakarun, Fernando Galrito, and Charalambos Margaritis.Karin Vandenrydt is a programmer at ANIMA BRUSSELS in Belgium.  ANIMA BRUSSELS operates in both French and Flemish which, along with German, are the official Belgian languages. Along with programing for the festival, Karin takes care of the Flemish-speaking guests as well as the juries. Sanja Cakarun is head of Public Relations and Audience Development at ANIMATEKA in Ljubljana, Slovenia. 
In 2000 Fernando Galrito founded MONSTRA in Lisbon, Portugal.  He is the artistic director of the festival as well as its guiding light.  Last but not least Charalambos Margaritis founded the international animation festival THE ANIMATTIKON PROJECT in 2017 which takes place in Paphos, Cypress.We began our discussion with each participant giving a brief statement about the character of their festival and what makes it unique since every festival has its own character.  We went on to discuss specific programming styles and methods that the various festivals use to build and retain an audience as well as the type of year around outreach programs each festival engages in.  How to program for specific audiences such as teenagers generated a lively discussion. Because the teenage audience covers such a wide age difference, they are particularly difficult to program for. For anyone interested in how festivals work, from selection processes to the actual screenings, there was a lot to learn from this panel.  ANIMA BRUSSELS is in its 36th year while ANIMATTIKON PROJECT was founded in 2017, so the discussion represented a wide range of experience and knowledge.The first public screening of a Greek animated film was Duce Narrates, a short film by Stamatis Polenakis in 1945.  The anti-fascist satirical film was made during the German-Italian occupation of Greece and heralded the heroic resistance of the Greek Army against the Italian invasion via Albania in 1940 at the beginning of World War ll.2015 was the 70th Anniversary of Greek animation and in honor of the event, ASIFA (Association Internationale du Film D’Animation) HELLAS published 70 Years of Greek Animation, a 220-page book covering the history of Greek animation.  The book thoroughly traces the development of animation in the country from its inception to 2015 with detailed text and lavish illustrations.  There is also a timeline which records film release dates and distinctions along with texts of lectures and interviews.  70 Years of Greek Animation is an excellent addition to the library of any animation historian as well as a fascinating read for anyone interested in animation.  It is written in Greek on one side of the page with a well translated English version on the other side.  You can learn more about the book and order it at:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. A special website was created for the 70th Anniversary celebration.  It is an attempt to register all of the countries’ animations along with their creators.  There is also a section for production companies, festivals, and awards.  You can check out the site at:
The Greek animation industry has come back strong despite the recent financial crisis.  One illustration of this success is the close relationship between Greece and France, a country that holds a prominent place in the field of animation.  The French Embassy and the French Institute of Greece have been staunch supporters of the ANIMASYROS Festival and have now offered their support to ATHENS ANIMATION AGORA.  At the opening session of the symposium, Christopher Chantepy, French Ambassador to Greece, gave a welcoming speech.  On another evening, Ambassador Chantepy and Monsieur Olivier Dovergne from Mazinnov hosted all of the Agora participants at a sumptuous reception at the elegant French Embassy.
Vassilis Karamitsanis, Olivier Dovergne from Mazzinnov, and Christophe Chantepy, French Ambassador to Greece
Vassilis Karamitsanis, Olivier Dovergne from Mazzinnov, and Christophe Chantepy, French Ambassador to Greece
Mazinnov is a French-Greek network designed to connect ideas, projects, and people in order to match creative people in many different fields with entrepreneurs in both countries.
All of the sessions of ATHENS ANIMATION AGORA were held in the lovely Onassis Cultural Center.  This first edition of AGORA was an initiative of the General Secretariat of Information and Communication of the Ministry of Digital Policy and ANIMASYROS INTERNATIONAL ANIMATION Festival in cooperation with the Onassis Cultural Center.  The symposium was made possible thanks to the support of the French Embassy in Athens, the French-Greek Innovation Network Mazinnov, the Delegation of the European Commission in Greece, and the National Center of Audiovisual Media and Communications. The day after the symposium most of the participants left by ferry for the isle of Syros and ANIMASYROS.  I was not able to attend this year because I flew straight to Bristol, England where I was on the animation jury of the ENCOUNTERS Festival, but more about that in my next article. I extend my great thanks to Marineta Mak Kritikou, ATHENS ANIMATION AGORA coordinator, and everyone connected with the symposium for inviting me to be part of the event. Their warm and generous hospitality was far beyond my expectations.  Even more important, the event has given me a greater understanding of Greek animation and of the opportunities open to Greek animators.  I feel like the symposium was such a success this year and hope that there will be a 2019 edition. You can see the full schedule of events at ATHENS ANIMATION AGORA and ANIMASYROS at:

France innovation building capacity is evolving

"Innovation: France joins the world's top 10 and ahead of the United States
June 15, 2017 - Martin BUREAU / AFP
Read the article from magazine here

France is benefiting from a sharp rise in productivity but is seeing the number of its researchers dedicated to new technologies decrease.

It's a first. According to an annual ranking by Bloomberg, the United States is no longer in the top 10 in the world of innovation and slip from 9th to 11th place. France is going the opposite way and thus passes from the 11th to the 9th place. On the podium, South Korea and Sweden remain respectively on the first and second step, ahead of Singapore, which gains three places.

To establish this ranking 2017, each country was given a score on 100 by Bloomberg which is based on seven criteria: expenditures for innovations related to GDP, value added manufacturing, the number of companies working in the high technologies, the productivity of scientific discoveries, the dynamism of the tertiary sector, the number of researchers compared to the population and the number of patents filed.

Classement 2017 de l'innovation

France must above all its entry into the top 10 to a strong increase in productivity (+4 places compared to 2016).
France nevertheless sees the number of its researchers dedicated to innovation decrease (-3 places).

For their part, the United States was mainly penalized by its lack of dynamism in the tertiary sector, and particularly in the university education of scientists and engineers. Value creation is also declining, but the world's largest economy remains the one with the most high-tech companies.

And the situation should not improve across the Atlantic, according to Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. He notes that "other nations have responded by pursuing smart, well-funded innovation policies, with particular emphasis on technology commercialization initiatives."

The Mazinnov network "umbrella" for Greek startups

The initiative of the French Embassy opens the way for the cooperation of innovative companies and institutions from both countries
Wednesday, June 27, 2018 12:11

Read the article from Naftemporiki magazine here

Innovation is another link between France and Greece. In this context, the Mazinnov initiative opens the way for cooperation between innovative Greek companies and French operators to network and support them.

Already the first round of the Forum, which took place a few months ago, gave the opportunity to meet more than 120 Greek and French public and private stakeholders in two promising areas: energy and the environment on the one hand and innovation in all its forms on the other.

These meetings helped to lay the foundations for the creation of permanent and dynamic links with the organization of more than 75 business meetings and the signing by 120 participants of a Charter for a Greek-French innovation network.

As the Mazinnov program initiators, proud supporters of new entrepreneurship, the Mazinnov program has many more plans for the coming autumn and for 2019. The French-French cooperation on innovation and the promotion of start-ups is one of its priorities "A Strategic Partnership for the Future" signed on 23 October 2015 by former French President Francois Holland and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

For Greece and the Europe of the future

The Greek-French innovation network Mazinnov is an initiative of the Embassy of France in Greece to implement this initiative.

It also states that Greece has many new talent, whose dynamism is key to the sustainable re-launch of the Greek economy and Greek society. It started in Athens a year ago but after the development of close relations between participants, it was decided to create an innovation network between the two countries with hundreds of founding members. The Mazinnov network aims to bring French and Greek ecosystems closer together on the basis of an integrated approach, from applied research to the emergence of start-ups. It has been developed around two forums, several meetings and many collaborations. Mazinnov's goal is to become an autonomous, vibrant organization of innovation and co-operation between the two ecosystems where influential entrepreneurs, science, arts, education and small children will be able to "imagine" Greece and Europe of the future.

French startups under French support

There are many sources of funding for Greek startups: European funding (from Greek private banks), national or international competitions, co-financing platforms, business angels. Mazinnov as a Greek-French network and not yet another incubator in Greece brings in contact, informs about existing opportunities, supports startups selected in a competition in France to travel there, student exchanges, partnerships. Many factors of innovation have already benefited:
  • Startup "InSyBio" participated in Vivatech in 2017.
  • Corallia participated in ActInSpace in 2016 and 2018.
  • NBG Business Seeds, EGG, Corallia and the newly-established "Saint-Startup" participated in the BIG (BPI France Inno Generation) in 2017.
The partnerships that the Mazinnov network has reached so far are as follows:
-  Collaborate with Mindspace Bootcamp in Athens throughout the year 2018.
-  Participation in the mentoring program of the National Bank of Greece "NBG Business Seeds à OkThess!" In Thessaloniki.
-  Sponsoring and sponsoring the call for applications for the AromaHub innovation contest, the Patras Science Park
-  Collaboration with Mindspace in Athens and participation in "FuckUpNight"
In the framework of the "StartupEurope Week", a partnership with the Youth Entrepreneurship Club, all over Crete.
-  Partnering with ThinkBiz in Athens for "ThinkBizAcademy"
-  Collaboration with ActInSpace, for Corallia.
-  Partnership with the International Summer School - International SummerSchool on "Artificial Intelligence and Games".
-  Collaboration with Crowdpolicy and participation in Crowdhackathon "Smart City 2" at the SNFCC.

The forums and meetings Mazinnov :

November 25, 2016: This first meeting brought together more than 80 Greek and French innovation actors who discovered each other, more than 500 visitors, and launched the Mazinnov initiative with more than 130 network entries. Lively and sustainable partnerships have been created.
10 and 11 November 2017: These two days welcomed more than 2,000 visitors and 15,000 streaming viewers (smart cities, lean startups ...) as well as several platforms and calls for applications: The art and business platform, based on the " Ecole des réalisateurs "by Fabrice Hyber, whose aim is to help artists express their creations, who chose four projects of young Greeks. The "Imagine the Greece of tomorrow" platform, which has given us the opportunity not only to distinguish the most innovative plans for the future (based on specific themes: agriculture, tourism, finance ...) through a contest in the form of piecing, but also to give it for young Greeks (8-12 years old) to express their vision for tomorrow's Greece. The "Adopt a startup" platform, which enabled the "adoption" of 20 startups by one or more companies for technical advice (business model, contact network ...). The results of the adoptions will be announced next fall.
-   March 8, 2018: Cocktail for the International Women's Day dedicated to Greek women. The cocktail gave the opportunity to more than 100 female celebrities in the field of innovation to meet each other or to meet for some of them.
-   March 19: In the framework of the "Goet de France", the best Parisian spaghetti with a Greek flavor.
-   June 18, 2018: Creation of a Greek startups link with Atout France tourist agency.
-   June 22, 2018: Creating a greek startup link with the Energy Observator initiative, the first ship that only moves with renewable energy and hydrogen and makes the round of the world.


Προτεραιότητα στην καινοτομία
Η Γαλλία αποτελεί ήδη ένα από τα σημαντικότερα κέντρα της Ευρώπης για τις νεοφυείς επιχειρήσεις. Έρχεται δεύτερη στην Ευρώπη μετά τη Βρετανία στις επενδύσεις σε αυτόν τον τομέα και έχει διασφαλίσει τη στήριξη τεχνολογικών κολοσσών όπως η Facebook και η Amazon. Η Microsoft την έχει επιλέξει ως έδρα του νέου προγράμματός της για νέες επιχειρήσεις τεχνητής νοημοσύνης. Παράλληλα, η γαλλική κυβέρνηση στηρίζει την ανάπτυξη γαλλικών επιχειρήσεων σε ξένες πόλεις και προωθεί τους Γάλλους επιχειρηματίες σε μεγάλα επιχειρηματικά συνέδρια. Προσπαθεί να προσελκύσει ταλέντα από όλον τον κόσμο, χορηγώντας με συνοπτικές διαδικασίες βίζα σε επιχειρήσεις και τις οικογένειές τους, παρέχοντας ειδικό φορολογικό καθεστώς στις νέες καινοτόμες επιχειρήσεις.  
Priority in innovation

France is already one of Europe's most important centers for start-ups. He comes second in Europe after the UK to invest in this sector and has secured support for technology giants such as Facebook and Amazon. Microsoft has chosen it as the seat of its new program for new artificial intelligence businesses. At the same time, the French government supports the development of French businesses in foreign cities and promotes French entrepreneurs in large business conferences. It strives to attract talent from all over the world by providing short-term visa procedures to businesses and their families by providing a special tax regime to new innovative businesses.

Happy Birthday, Station F!

Read the article from Innovators magazine here
The world’s largest startup campus celebrated its first big fat birthday party earlier this week.
Station F, located in Paris, reknowed for its refreshingly innovative approach to shaking up stale startup practices, with its programmes that promise no bullshit mentors and support people from backgrounds traditionally left out of this ecosystem.
So if you’re an ambitious early stage company, check out how you can be part of Station F

ERT: "2nd Greek-French Innovation Forum MAZINNOV"

Would you like:
- To meet the best French and Greek innovators?
- Learn how dozens of start-ups can be adopted by larger companies?
- Listen to decades of innovative ideas?
- Imagine tomorrow's Greece?


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