Singapore’s Robot Playground Media (RPM) and Valencia-based co-producer TV ON Producciones (TOP) have commenced production on animated feature film “The Violinist,” it was revealed at the Asia TV Forum and Market.
The film was unveiled at a presentation attended by the representatives of Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Spanish Embassy in Singapore.
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Set during WWII-era Singapore and Malaya, the film will follow two young violinists, Kai and Fei, whose dreams are shattered with the Japanese invasion of Southeast Asia. Kai abandons his music career to join the resistance in Perak, Malaya, while Fei becomes a war survivor in Japanese-occupied Singapore. Their lives take vastly different paths over the span of decades as they try to hold onto the promise of performing a two-violin sonata together one day.
In development for seven years, “The Violinist” was first presented at the Southeast Asia Film Financing Forum in 2017 and was later selected for Annecy MIFA Pitches (2019) and Tokyo Gap-Financing Market this year. It previously received funding support from the IMDA for its script development. The original story by Ervin Han is based on RPM’s animated short film, “The Violin” that was produced as part of the Singapore Memory Project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence in 2015.
The 2D animated film is co-directed by RPM’s Ervin Han and Spanish animation veteran Raúl García with support from the IMDA and the IVC (Valencian Institute of Culture). RPM has created an international production framework working with European and Asian talent with work split between Singapore and Spain, as well as Malaysia where animation studio Inspidea will undertake part of the production work.
Global IP and investment firm 108 Media is the primary financing studio for the film and holds worldwide rights outside Spain, with Japan’s Throne Inc. on board as part of the executive producing pool. The film is produced by Justin Deimen, Bernard Toh and Paloma Mora, CEO of TV ON Producciones, and is executive produced by Abhi Rastogi and Takafumi Yuki.
Han said: “The film traverses 80 years of Singapore’s past, from our colonial days to the Japanese occupation and the decades after. It’s a story of hope, courage and conviction in turbulent times. It is not lost on Raúl and me that this remains a reality today in many parts of the world. Hopefully our film shines a light on the extraordinary courage of survivors in times of conflict and oppression.”
Mora added: “’The Violinist’ is a marvellous project and the perfect opportunity to create and consolidate bonds between Asia and Spain, a reference country in the international animation industry, by joining creative teams from both countries in all phases of production.”
Chris Tan, director, media industry development at IMDA, said: “We are pleased to support RPM through its development and are deeply appreciative of the confidence that our international partners have in our local media enterprises. We are keenly looking forward to more global partnerships.”
The film’s release will be in late 2025, which also marks the 80th year since the end of WWII.
Han is a Singapore animation veteran and has produced and directed projects for Disney and Cartoon Network. “The Violinist” is his first feature animation as a director and co-writer.
García was with the animation department at Disney. He previously directed “Extraordinary Tales,” an Annie-nominated animated horror film that featured the voices of Bela Lugosi, Christopher Lee, Julian Sands, Roger Corman and Guillermo del Toro.
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