L-R: Laurent Witz; Sarah Sutter; Frédéric Wedeux; Emmanuelle Vincent; Credit: Jazmin Campbell

On Wednesday morning, the Luxembourgish production company Zeilt Productions presented its new animated show for children “Nächst Statioun” at a press conference at Casino Luxembourg.

During the press conference, held in the framework of the Luxembourg City Film Festival, members of the direction and production team at Zeilt Productions, accompanied by Luxembourg’s Minister of Culture Sam Tanson and Guy Daleiden, Director of Luxembourg Film Fund, unveiled their new animated series: “Nächst Statioun” (in English: “next stop”).

The series, designed and produced entirely in Luxembourg, is composed of a series of 26 five-minute-long episodes accompanied by a mobile application using augmented reality. The series offers child- and family-friendly explanations of areas belonging to Luxembourg’s cultural heritage, from various places (Casemates, Echternach Lake, etc.) to traditions (e.g. National Day).

Discussing the Film Fund's decision to support the project, Guy Daleiden explained that the selection committee had been impressed by the quality of the episode ideas and characters, as well as by its augmented reality application. He also highlighted the importance of educational productions for children in Luxembourg. For her part, Culture Minister Sam Tanson stressed the value of such productions in promoting cultural heritage.

Presenting the concept behind “Nächst Statioun”, Laurent Witz, an Academy Award-winning Luxembourgish filmmaker and founder of Zeilt Productions, similarly emphasised the importance of “inform[ing] children of our cultural heritage” and encouraging their desire to learn more about the monuments and traditions that surround them.

Concerning the basic storyline, Laurent Witz explained that the series centres around a group of aliens who embark on various expeditions in Luxembourg. Throughout their adventures, the aliens explain the monuments and world around them “with joy and humour” and in a language which children can understand but which also “feeds their curiosity”. Indeed, the main target audience are families residing in Luxembourg or in the border regions and particularly children aged 6-12.

As explained by director and animator Sarah Sutter, the series prides itself on a diverse range of characters, from the main characters Klaus, a natural leader, and the younger and ever curious Mish to dynamic girl power duo Suzi and Erza (Klaus’ older sister), to name but a few. In addition, each episode centres around a different place or tradition. Sarah Sutter stressed the importance of choosing places from across the country to offer a wide representation.

3D artist Frédéric Wedeux added that the aim of the series is to allow viewers to discover the selected places visually but also in an educational and pedagogical way. It was thus important to gather all the relevant information about the various places before writing the story (for which eight screenwriters were responsible). Laurent Witz later added that one of the main messages of this show is that learning is a wonderful thing and curiosity “the most beautiful quality”. He reiterated his hopes that “Nächst Statioun” would foster young viewers’ curiosity, encouraging them to ask more questions about the places shown in the series.

Regarding filming, the characters have been created using 3D and augmented reality, using photos of the chosen places. For Sarah Sutter, it was “important to present these places from a new angle”, as well as to “respect [their] authenticity”.

Producer Emmanuelle Vincent then presented the mobile application that accompanies the series. Developed with the support of the Ministry of Education, Children and Youth, the app will be available in four languages (English, French, German and Luxembourgish) to schools and the general public. It is composed of two parts: quizzes and anecdotes; and an augmented reality component allowing users to experience places and missions and view photos.

The presentation was followed by a screening of the first episode of “Nächst Statioun”, set against the backdrop of the Casemates in Luxembourg City. The series will be available for public viewing from 16 April 2020 with weekly episodes being diffused in Luxembourgish on RTL. The episodes will also be screened in French every two weeks at Kinepolis. The mobile application is scheduled for release in May 2020.

The overall budget for this innovative project is approximately €2.6 million.