kreytif! Pitch: 5 promising projects from Southeast Asia

While Mexico's Pixelatl goes about championing and developing new Latin American animation IP, Malaysia's Kre8tif! is applying the same formula to Southeast Asia. The annual conference, which is currently been held online, is the best place to discover up-and-coming creators from the region, which is morphing from service industry to purveyor of globally popular properties.

We logged in to watch this year's elevator pitches: five-minute sessions in which studios presented concepts for animated series and films, with possible production partners watching. Here are five we liked and believe could get greenlit …

Studio: The R&D Studio (Malaysia)Format: 13 x 20 min

The protagonist of this mystery show, a scientifically minded orphan with a sense of adventure, is straight from the kids' animation playbook. The setting is not. The show unfolds in medieval Baghdad, a city at its intellectual zenith, and the plot incorporates aspects of its cultural history that are little known in the West. The R&D Studio has done service work for Disney, as well as producing a handful of accomplished festival shorts.

Studio: Kino Arts (Philippines)Format: feature

This show's premise is born from a pun: the term “OFW,” or “overseas Filipino worker,” is retooled with “outerspace” as the first word. Cue a political allegory dressed as a sci-fi thriller, in which a migrant worker in the future takes a dangerous job in space to secure her son's wellbeing. Indigenous tribes and spiritual epiphanies feature. The 2d/cg hybrid film is a follow-up of sorts to Alimuom, a 2018 feature directed, like this one, by Keith Sicat.

Studio: Rocketsheep, Twenty Manila (Philippines)Format: feature

Rocketsheep are on a high, their recent feature Hayop Ka! The Nimfa Dimaano Story having been picked up by Netflix and awarded at Fantasia Film Festival. This is a spin-off starring Jerry, a gun-toting frog who sets out to solve a museum robbery. The film seems to share the irreverent, decidedly adult humor of the original. The presentation was the slickest and funniest we saw at Kre8tif!.

Studio: Studio Raksa (Malaysia)Format: 20 x 11 min

We first encountered Raksa at Annecy's MIFA market, where it pitched a project last year. Mighty Jazzmonkeys displays the verve we've come to expect from the studio. Inspired by producer Aidzam Rashid's youthful misadventures as a musician, the series follows “four monkeys in a band, struggling to make it big” - a line Rashid delivered with a deadpan humor that ran throughout the pitch. A long demo showcased the brash cartoonish designs and polished animation.

Studio: August Media (Singapore)Format: 26 x 22 min

Many projects pitched at Kre8tif! stressed their regional bona fides by foregrounding cultural elements from their countries. Sherlock Sam goes about it more subtly, reimagining Sherlock Holmes stories with a cast of young Singaporean characters. Samuel Tan Cher Lock is a nerdy schoolkid who idolizes the detective; his Watson surrogate is a grumpy, sarcastic robot. The show is based on a popular book series and developed by August Media, a major kids' media company. It stands a good chance of being produced.

This year, Kre8tif! has been merged with games festival Level Up KL to create MY Digital Creativity Festival, an online event hosted by government agency Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation.

Image at top: “Mighty Jazzmonkeys”