By all accounts, we’re in the midst of a golden age of kids’ programming. Well-funded streamers, pubcasters and commercial networks are pioneering new narrative techniques and funding models—and placing diversity and inclusion front and center. Those themes are clear across World Screen’s inaugural TV Kids Screenings Festival, where you’re sure to find a slot winner, be it a trusted preschool brand, a breakout kids’ comedy or an edgy tween hit.
Visit TVKidsScreeningsFestival.com to screen these titles. Clicking on each show title below will take you directly to the trailer.
Today marks the official launch of the new Cartoonito preschool block on Cartoon Network and HBO Max, heralding the arrival of yet another player in what is already a thriving and competitive landscape. Reflecting the healthy demand for content for the youngest ones, there’s plenty of preschool fare on offer at this virtual screenings festival.
School of Roars is an animated comedy from ZDF Enterprises that helps kids prepare for starting school. “Now in its second season, our series is full of monster laughs and teaches the core values of life,” says Peter Lang, VP ZDFE.junior. “Going to school is something children all over the world experience and can relate to.”
Kate Sanagan, head of sales and distribution at Sinking Ship Entertainment, lists the PBS KIDS series Alma’s Way as a highlight in the company’s collection of new series and seasons—all of which deliver inclusive storytelling. Alma’s Way follows the city adventures of a Bronx-born, Puerto Rican girl.
The preschool slate on offer from Big Bad Boo Studios also promises diversity front and center. 16 Hudson “not only makes sure to feature a diverse cast, it also celebrates and highlights each character’s heritage,” says Shabnam Rezaei, president of the company and creator of the series. ABC with Kenny G—a second season of which is in production—expands on the 16 Hudson universe.
GoldBee is showcasing The Game Catchers in the festival, following the adventures of five friends on an interstellar journey. “Underneath the fun space adventures filled with laughter, the series is conceived to bring attention back to playground games, promoting an active lifestyle,” says Christophe Goldberger, the company’s managing director.
As kids begin to emerge from pandemic lockdowns, Federation Kids & Family is also showcasing a series that emphasizes physical activity: the dance coaching show Let’s Dance, which is targeted at a broad range of viewers aged 3 to 8. “It’s wonderful to be involved in this series, especially at a time when children worldwide need to be inspired and energized,” says Monica Levy, head of sales.
From Melnitsa Animation Studio, meanwhile, there’s Moonzy, about an alien who makes Earth home. “Moonzy is a very positive, safe show full of love and kindness, which is especially important nowadays,” says Sveta Barabanshchikova, director of international business development. “Entertaining small kids, we are teaching them principles of equality and empathy.”
Magic Light Pictures’ 52-episode Pip and Posy also delivers warmth and humor, says Muriel Thomas, international distribution director. “Based on the million-selling book series illustrated by Axel Scheffler, Pip and Posy premiered in the U.K. in March to huge ratings success and is already a social media hit with 5-million-plus views.”
Cisneros Media’s Ailing Zubizarreta, VP of content and creative services, is introducing her clients to the live-action series Zumbar, in which six children interactively play with a variety of animals. Also promoting knowledge about nature is AnimalFanPedia, billed as a “dynamic, funtaining and educational wildlife program.”
Expanding slightly beyond preschool—targeting those in the 4-to-8 set—Sinking Ship is showcasing the math comedy Odd Squad. ZDF Enterprises, meanwhile, sees audiences 4 to 10 finding interest in Zoom—The White Dolphin.
Comedy becomes the dominant theme among the TV Kids Screenings Festival submissions as we move up into the core kids 6-to-9 demo. Federation is showcasing Presto! School of Magic, about aspiring magicians. “The timing for such an uplifting, exceptionally crafted production is perfect,” Levy says.
Fellow French outfit Cyber Group Studios is unveiling 50/50 Heroes, which “breaks conventions,” says Raphaelle Mathieu, senior VP of sales, acquisitions and new media. “This is a completely original show that turns the serious superhero genre on its head.”
Lang at ZDF Enterprises bills Scream Street as a “fast-paced, stylish, comedy-horror extravaganza…packed full of humor and horror, delivered with warmth and heart.” The Muscleteers, meanwhile, delivers “action-filled tales of intrigue and hilarity,” he says.
Big Bad Boo Studios is developing a second season of The Bravest Knight, which Rezaei calls an innovative, funny and entertaining show, and rolling out two seasons of 1001 Nights. Sinking Ship is also targeting the 6-to-9 set with its live-action docuseries My Home, My Life!
Live action dominates the festival entries geared to those 8 and up. Global Screen is delivering the tween and teen series 3Hz, which “has everything that young audiences are looking for today,” says Ulrike Schröder, VP of acquisitions and co-productions. “A cool and edgy look, diverse characters, great music as well as highly topical global issues such as environmental protection, with the added extra of an exciting crime story.”
Distribution360 is highlighting the tween-plus and family interconnected sitcom The Parker Andersons/Amelia Parker, which “offers an original scripted programming option for international channels and platforms targeting older kids and their families,” says Diane Rankin, senior VP of rights and executive producer. “The series is filled with heart and a real authenticity that both entertains and invites conversation, giving it a strong four-quadrant co-view appeal.”
The Sinking Ship collection includes the new CBBC mystery series The Demon Headmaster as well as the latest seasons of the sci-fi show Endlings and the Covid-19-inspired Lockdown.
The festival also delivers some animated series for viewers 8 to 12, with Federation Kids & Family highlighting Kung Fu Wa, which Levy says is “brimming with action, adventure and humor, as well as endearing moments.”
From Malaysia, Lemon Sky Studios is delivering a slapstick comedy consisting of 2-minute episodes called AstroLOLogy. “I wanted to create a show driven by characters that can connect with individuals anywhere and everywhere,” says Ken Foong, chief creative officer.
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