French Renaissance Wins at Annecy

After six days of packed screenings of 279 animated projects from around the world, the top Cristal awards were handed out a well-attended ceremony this past Saturday at Annecy. Renaissance, French filmmaker Christian Volckman’s black-and-white noir about a cop investigating the mysterious kidnapping of a young girl in 2054-era Paris beat the competition in the features category. The jury of the 30th Festial of Animation at Annecy selected Volckman’s feature over the other top four nominees–Asterix and the Vikings, Gin-iro No Kami No Agito, Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and xxxHOLiC Manatsu No Yo No Yume–in this highly competitive field. Miramax will release Renaissance in U.S. theaters in September.

The Annecy Crystal Award for best short film was awarded to Regina Pessoa’s black-and-white hand-drawn animated short, Histoire tragique avec fin heureuse (A Tragic Story with a Happy Ending. Pessoa’s piece about misfits also nabbed the TPS Cinceculte Award. The short was produced by Jacques-Remy Girerd (Raining Cats and Frogs) of Folimage.

British animator Ron Wrake’s Rabbit won the Special Distinction prize from the jury, while veteran U.K. animator Joanna Quinn’s Dreams and Desires’Family Ties was the recipient of three top prizes (Audience Award, FIPRESCI Award and the Jury’s Special Award). Michael Grimshaw’s One D was awarded the Junior Jury Award for a Short Film. Bulgarian animator Andrey Tsvetkov’s Cherno na Blayo (Black on White) received the Unicef Award for its socially aware message, while Germany’s Delivery by Till Nowack was the winner of the Jean-Luc Xiberras Award for a First Film.

The top prize winner in the TV category was Spanish CG-animated series Pocoyo for the episode ‘A Little Something Between Friends.’ The Zinkia Entertainment/Granada preschool series was directed by David Cantolla and Guillermo Garcia and produced by Kath Hart and Giles Ridge. Veteran British actor Stephen Fry lent his voice to the episode. French-Irish co-production Zombie Hotel‘s ‘First Day’ also received a special award for best TV production. Produced by Alphanim, Telegael and Magma Films, the toon was directed by Luc Vinciguerra and produced by Christian Davin, Clement Calvet, Paul Cummins and Ralph Christians. Petit Wang was the winner of the TV Special Award. The half-hour animated special was directed by Henri Heidsieck and produced by La Fabrique Sarl and distributed by Tele Images.

Well-loved American director and one-time Disney animator Tim Burton, who was up for an Oscar for his feature toon Corpse Bride earlier this year, also received a career achievement Cristal award from the festival organizers. He told the attendees that he would treasure the Cristal as one of his few awards and joked that the trophy would look good as his gravestone. The filmmaker’s 1982 animated short Vincent was also screened at the event.

The animated projects recognized at Annecy often go on to receive more prizes (including Academy Award nominations) throughout the year. For more information about the 2006 awards and to learn more about this world-class event, visit www.annecy.org.