Filmograf and The Illuminated Film Company have closed on the finance of the animated special entitled A Bear Named Wojtek. The production is a Polish/UK co-production between the two companies, with production finance from the Polish Film Institute, Screen Scotland, the UK-Government supported Young Audience Content Fund, which is managed by the BFI, with TV Poland and BBC ALBA (with funding from MG ALBA) the commissioning broadcasters.
As part of the finance deal, Illuminated Films has agreed a deal for the international distribution of the animated special. Acting as the sales agent, Illuminated Films will be taking the film to the markets (MIPCOM, AFM, Kidscreen) and festivals (Cannes, Toronto, Berlin, Annecy) ahead of production completion in Autumn 2022.
Written by Wojciech Lepianka (My Father’s Bike, 2012) and directed by Iain Gardner (The Tannery, 2010), A Bear Named Wojtek tells the fantastic journey of an orphaned Syrian brown bear, brought to Scotland, having been previously adopted by Polish soldiers during World War II. He becomes a beacon of hope and an emblem of their fate.
The film has secured the UK voice talents of Bill Paterson (Miss Potter, Truly Madly Deeply), Shauna MacDonald (The Descent, Filth), Piotr Baumann (EastEnders, Coronation Street) and Tomek Borkowy (Doctor Who, Dom), and Marcin Dorocinski (Queen’s Gambit) for the Polish language version.
Multi-Oscar winning composer Normand Roger (Father and Daughter, The Man Who Planted Trees, The Old Man And The Sea) has agreed to compose and score the music for A Bear Named Wojtek.
Director Iain Gardner has always been inspired by his work and is taking visual inspiration from Frédéric Back’s film The Man Who Planted Trees. The film is being made using computer assisted animation, compositing and special effects software TV Paint, which will create the look and style the director is after.
Co-producer Iain Harvey commented: ‘When Iain Gardner came down to London to tell me of this wonderful story, I confess I was skeptical about the details, but quickly learnt just how important the true events portrayed in this film are to the people of Poland and Scotland. It is a bond between the two countries. For once, the magic is real.’
Co-producer Wlodek Matuszewski: “Wojtek the bear is a cult figure here in Poland and I was so excited when Iain Harvey proposed that we make a film together, based on the amazing art concept of Iain Gardner (director), who is not only an excellent animation artist but also lives in Edinburgh, the place where Wojtek spent the majority of his life. With the wonderful script by Wojciech Lepianka and the British-Polish creative team we are going to make a unique film that will make this moving story live again – and famous worldwide.”
A Bear Named Wojtek is a Wojtek Animation Limited production based in Scotland, co-produced by Filmograf and The Illuminated Film Company in Poland and UK respectively.
Internationally, the series is being represented by Illuminated Films.
Press contacts:Filmograf: [email protected]
The Illuminated Film Company: [email protected] 0044 7843 982 482
Warsaw based film studio funded in 2008 produced and coproduced several animated series: MAMI FATALE (with GS Company), HIP HIP & HURRAY (with SMF Warsaw) and others. In 2015 it produced MAGIC MOUNTAIN, a full-length animation film by Anca Damian, praised in many renowned festivals (Karlovy Vary, Amiens, Leipzig etc,)
About The Illuminated Film Company
The Illuminated Film Company is a London based studio with several successful series under its belt, including the 4-time BAFTA nominated Little Princess series, the current CITV series The Rubbish World of Dave Spud, and Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, plus TV specials including Michael Foreman’s War Game and Michael Morpurgo’s On Angel Wings.
About Polish Film Institute
Established in 2005 the Polish Film Institute (PFI) is a national film fund that offers comprehensive support for the Polish film industry, including film production, education and dissemination of film culture and international promotion.
About Screen Scotland
Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland through enhanced funding, services and support and backing from Scottish Government and The National Lottery. Screen Scotland sits within Creative Scotland and works in partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. screen.scot / Twitter / Instagram.
About The Young Audiences Content Fund
Managed by the BFI, the Young Audiences Content Fund (YACF) supports the creation of distinct, high-quality content for children and young audiences to be broadcast on free-to-access, Ofcom regulated television channels and online platforms.
Financed by the UK Government as part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s Contestable Fund, the YACF aims to provide new avenues for creators of original content and bring new voices to the market, and back content which entertains, informs and reflects the experiences of young people growing up across the UK today. www.bfi.org.uk/yacf
About the BFI
We are a cultural charity, a National Lottery distributor, and the UK’s lead organisation for film and the moving image.
Our mission is:
- To support creativity and actively seek out the next generation of UK storytellers
- To grow and care for the BFI National Archive, the world’s largest film and television archive
- To offer the widest range of UK and international moving image culture through our programmes and festivals - delivered online and in venue
- To use our knowledge to educate and deepen public appreciation and understanding
- To work with Government and industry to ensure the continued growth of the UK’s screen industries
Founded in 1933, the BFI is a registered charity governed by Royal Charter. The BFI Board of Governors is chaired by Tim Richards.
About Telewizja Polska
Telewizja Polska (TVP) is a Polish state media corporation. It is the largest Polish television network in Poland. TVP acquire film and TV productions while also specialize in promoting Polish films and TV productions at international film festivals, TV markets as well as various industry events. TVP sell international rights for films, series, formats, and programs produced or acquired by TVP.
About BBC ALBA
BBC ALBA provides Scottish Gaelic media content across a range of platforms including linear, iPlayer and online. Launched in 2008, BBC ALBA is delivered through a unique partnership between the BBC and MG ALBA. BBC ALBA offers a diverse range of programming which reflects Gaelic communities and serves as an important access point to the language for non-Gaelic users. The strong independent Gaelic production sector also works in collaboration, with national and international partners, to bring added value to viewers through co-finance and co-production agreements.