The Annecy International Festival of Animated Film (June 10-15) and MIFA market (June 11-14) will be toasting this year’s country of honor with a variety of program highlights, visiting luminaries and special events focused on the animation artistry of Japan.
“In 1999 the Annecy Festival honored Japanese animation, making this cinematography the first to receive such a distinction. At that time, the great authors of Japanese animation were just emerging to the European audience and the craze for anime was gaining popularity with young moviegoers. 20 years later, Annecy is placing Japanese animation in the spotlight once again. This is because there is still so much to say about this cinematography where vitality has never waned, and despite the enormous audience it sustains there are still many hidden treasures: there are several works that have rarely been shown, entirely or in part, in the West, and we long to share these discoveries to a much wider audience,” said the festival’s Artistic Director, Marcel Jean.
“With our gathered expertise and close affiliations with several prominent players in the Japanese animation industry, Annecy 2019 will provide an unprecedented view of this complex cinematography. One that has marked international contemporary cinema in more ways than one. So, we invite you to this remarkable rendezvous to discover a whole new side to Japanese animation!”
Annecy will welcome Japanese animation legend Yôichi Kotabe as Guest of Honor. Born in Taiwan in 1936, Kotabe joined the Tôei Animation studio in 1959, where he was a close collaborator with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki as early as The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968). He directed classic anime including Panda! Go Panda! (1972, 1973), Chie the Brat (1981), Tarô the Dragon Boy (1979), the Heidi series (1974) and Marco (1976), for which he also did the character design… His long career embodies the elegance of classic animation in the best traditions of Japanese production.
Yoshiaki Nishimura, Founder, CEO & Producer of Studio Ponoc, will be a juror this year. Since 2014, Studio Ponoc has delivered its first feature Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017, directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi) and Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1 – Modest Heroes (2018; Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiyuki Momose, Akihiko Yamashita). Prior, Nishimura was an animator at the legendary Studio Ghibli from 2002-2014, where he worked on Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Tales from Earthsea (2006) and Ponyo (2008), and cut his teeth as a producer on The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) and When Marnie Was There (2014), both nominated for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards.
Also serving as a juror will be acclaimed indie animator Koji Yamamura, Director of Yamamura Animation, Inc. Born in 1964, Yamamura has dedicated a large part of his career to making films for children. His shorts Mt. Head (Oscar nominated in 2003), The Old Crocodile (2005), Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (2007) and Muybridge’s Strings (2011) were awarded over 90 prizes, including the grand prizes of four major animation festivals: Annecy, Zagreb, Ottawa and Hiroshima. He has served on many international juries and had many retrospective screenings worldwide. A member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Yamamura is also a professor at the Tokyo University of the Arts.
On the big screen, Annecy will present the French premiere of Studio Ponoc’s anthology feature Modest Heroes, comprised of the short films Kanini & Kanino (written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), Life Ain’t Gonna Lose (written and directed by Yoshiyuki Momose) and Invisible (written and directed by Akihiko Yamashita).
Additional highlights include:
- A tribute to Venus War (1989) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. An anniversary screening – with remastered English subtitled version – to celebrate 30-years of a legendary film that is an integral part of Japanese history.
- An exhibition at the Haras from imagespassages: Japonohara. Some very different artistic approaches have been selected, ranging from VR with Planet°° by Momoko Seto; Nova in My Hand, a cosmic and poetic work by Yuki Kawamura; City of Transformers, a burlesque and critical production by Ikuru Kuwajima; and Kiya, a cartoon inspired by comic books and adolescence, by Akino Kondoh (with courtesy of the Mizuma Art Gallery/Tokyo). These artists, born in Japan in the ‘80s, form a unique selection, as much by their exquisite creations as by their diverse origins.
- Screening programs that include historical short films and numerous classics.
- A Japanese delegation as well as a 150m² stand at Mifa.