Lots of drawing cards at toon fest

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ROME -- The 12th annual Cartoons on the Bay festival gets under way Thursday with its biggest lineup ever -- more than 175 programs from 25 countries.

The festival, which will hand out prizes in eight competitive categories before wrapping Sunday, also will present career honors to Canadian animator Gerald Potterton and Japanese artist and designer Fusako Yusaki. South Korea's Akom Prods. will receive the fest's studio of the year honor.

The awards for Yusaki and Akom are part of festival trend toward recognizing contributions from Asia. This year's lineup includes seven productions from Japan, four from South Korea, three from India, two from China and one from Malaysia.

"It is definitely appropriate to pay more attention to the important contributions from Asia," festival founder and artistic director Alfio Bastiancich said.

Western Europe remains well represented at the Salerno-based fest, as do up-and-coming regions Latin America and Eastern Europe.

The festival also announced that it will include a special retrospective of Emanuele Luzzati and Giulio Gianni's 1978 film "The Magic Flute" to celebrate its 30th anniversary.

Among the most hotly awaited films set to screen at the cartoons festival are "Squirrel Boy" from Cartoon Network Studios; The National Film Board of Canada's "Sleeping Betty"; "Gladiators" and "A Bicycle Trip," both co-produced by Italy's RAI Fiction; "Miyory in the Sacred Forest" from Japan's Nippon Animation Co.; and "Wanted" from South Korea's Electric Circus.

Additionally, Disney series "My Friends Tigger and Pooh" -- one of the highlights of last year's festival when a short preview screened -- will be back with full episodes.

The festival's move to Salerno, the largest city on Italy's Amalfi Coast, came last year after the festival outgrew its previous homes in the smaller villages that dot the dramatic coastline.
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