Do you remember the Moomins?

Roundish fairy tale characters with large noses that resembled hippopotamuses? The Moomins were the central characters in a series of books and comic strips by Finnish illustrator and writer Tover Jansoon released between 1945 and 1993.

The Moomins have since been the basis for numerous television series, films and even a theme park called Ci, Finland.

Now there is a chance to re-visit the Moomins at 2014 BFI London Film Festival, marking the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson who died in 2001, aged 87.

Finland’s Tove Jansson and mother of all Moomins, was one of the most successful children’s writers ever.  Her books have been sold in their millions and translated into 44 languages across the world.

Jansson grew up in an artistic family in Helsinki, her father was a sculptor and mother an illustrator.  Her first Moomin book – The Moomins and the Great Flood – was published in 1945.  However, it was not until 1954, when a London agent offered Jansson a lucrative deal to produce a Moomin comic Strip for London’s Evening News (six strips a week for seven years), that her international reputation was truly established. 120 newspapers around the world were running it, reaching 12 million readers.  Even Walt Disney wanted exclusive rights to the word ‘Moomin’.   Jansson refused.  Her creation seemed to be taking over the world.

Inspired by her own visit to the Riviera with her mother, Jansson created ‘Moomin on the Riviera’.  In 2010 Finnish film producer/director Hanna Hemilä and French animation film director-producer Xavier Picard joined forces and collaborated to develop this hand-drawn feature length movie based on the original Tove and Lars Jansson comic strips.  It features the Moomins, Snorkmaiden and Little My in a journey to the French Riviera.  Although seemingly relaxed, the characters delve deeper into the problems of cross-cultural understanding

This new hand-drawn animation feature is the first time there has been an audio visual adaptation of Jansson’s original comic strip.  The  film depicts a story  centering around various characters setting sail for the glamorous Riviera having weathered menacing storms.  In addition to the actors playing the characters in the film the audio universe of Moomins on the Riviera includes composed music and a mixture of realistic and abstract sound effects in the style of Jacques Tati.

A film for all audiences (not only those re-visiting childhood memories)  who enjoy universal themes, such as finding joy in the small things in life, family and optimism.

At Odeon Covent Garden on Saturday 18 October 2014 at 3pm

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