European animators mourn passing of producer-director Thilo Rothkirch.

The European animation community is mourning the passing of producer-director Thilo Graf Rothkirch at the age of 65 after a serious illness.

After studying Graphics Design in Kassel, Rothkirch worked as a graphics designer, storyboard artist, background artist, cartoonist, author and director in London and Bonn before setting up his own animation studio Rothkirch Cartoon Film in 1976.

With his then wife Maya, he began working on an international level from an early stage and, thanks to the MEDIA Programme and CARTOON, was instrumental in setting up one of the first animation studio groupings E-Toons with the UK’s Honeycomb Animation Studios and France’s Duboi.

Projects like the Feodor TV series and the feature film Tobias Totz and His Lion were made in collaboration with studios in Belgium, the UK and Germany.

A fruitful collaboration with the German outpost of Warner Bros began with the theatrical distribution of Tobias Totz and His Lion, which was nominated for the German Film Award in 2000, and was followed with the first co-production with Warner of The Little Polar Bear which was seen by over 2.8m cinema-goers in Germany.

Rothkirch’s production of shorts in the The Little Polar Bear TV series was nominated for the International Emmy Award in 2003.

Subsequent feature films produced with Warner Bros included The Little Polar Bear  - The Mysterious Island, Laura’s Star and its two sequels, and Keinohrhase und Zweiohrküken, released in German cinemas last September.

Rothkirch was also the recipient of two Cartoon Movie Tributes – in 2002 for his company’s “global development strategy” and in 2005 as Director of the Year, together with Piet de Rycker, for Laura’s Star.

The Cartoon Movie Tributes have been awarded each year since 2001 at the animation industry event by the participants voting in recognition of outstanding achievements, companies or personalities that have had a positive and dynamic influence on the animation sector.