After more than a year with no in-person animation gatherings, mad dashes through airports to catch a connection or joyful reunions with friends and colleagues, the Annecy Festival (June 14-19) is in prime position to be the first big event to be held on-site. Presented as a hybrid physical and digital edition for 2021, the 60-year-old confab is as jam-packed with screenings and special guests as ever.
“To meet again. With this single goal in mind, for nearly a year the CITIA team has been rallying to welcome the animation film community, betwixt lake and mountains. If Annecy 2020 was the epitome of resilience, Annecy 2021 will be that of combat. The combat aimed to reposition Culture at the core of our existences and extol, yet again, works and their creators under the best possible conditions,” CITIA’s Chairman Dominique Puthod and CEO Mickaël Marin shared in a joint statement. “We applaud those pioneers who, in 1960, cradled the destiny of this infant Festival in the ‘Venice of the Alps.’ We also applaud those men and women who strove one after another to turn this event into an unmissable annual highpoint. In one way or another, Annecy is determined to stand its ground as animated cinema’s radiating center.”
In spite of an unusual context, at long last this year will finally be the time for celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Annecy Festival. A trip back through these six decades of animated history will be on offer all week long.
“Annecy is the first-ever movie festival fully dedicated to animation and it has become the major event of this sector, worldwide. We will continue to claim this special place in History as ours,” said Marcel Jean, the Festival’s Artistic Director. “Our aim is to always stay the foremost meeting place for our entire community and industry. Over the course of the years, this event has grown impressively, becoming more and more inclusive. Today we are proud to have remained relevant throughout our numerous transformations, without ever neglecting this priceless legacy handed down by the pioneers who were there at its genesis.”
Program highlights include…
The 60th – the screening: A special screening, full of first-times and surprises!
- First time on a big screen: Mémoire d’une minute, a program of one-minute short films on the topic of memory, by 11 Annecy prize-winning directors. Interwoven on an initiative by Joan C. Gratz, they offer us art ranging from the sentimental to the absurd.
- First screening in 1960: An Award for Mr. Rossi, a short by Bruno Bozzetto in competition at the time! See it again in 2021, still in Annecy!
- World premiere of the Walt Disney Animation Studios short film Far from the Tree, with a pre-recorded intro by director Natalie Nourigat.
Tuesday June 15, 8:30 p.m., Bonlieu Grande Salle
Plus, make sure you catch the urban exploration “Annecy Festival, 60 Years and Still Animated”, the CNC show at the Musée-Château, the Village du Festival, and so much more.
Animated Africa! From jury members on to programming and other Mifa events, get more details about this special year dedicated to African animation! Read more here.
Masterclasses, Making of sessions, Keynotes: animation without limits or borders: A breeze of effervescence and creative daring is blowing through the programs of the Masterclasses, Making of sessions and the Keynotes.
- With this year’s special homage to African animation, the Walt Disney and Kugali animation studios will present Iwájú, the animation series, through Jennifer Lee’s passion for this afrofuturistic world and its art team’s recounting of its diverse inspirations. Session followed by a live Q&A. Speakers: Jennifer Lee, Ziki Nelson, Tolu Olowofoyeku, Hamid Ibrahim, Natalie Nourigat, Marlon West.
- Three of today’s most free-spirited and internationally-famed women directors will discuss their career choices and the themes underlying their works. An inspiring declaration of life and a glowing commitment to serving animation. Speakers: Signe Baumane, Joanna Quinn, Martina Scarpelli Moderator: Jayne Pilling.
On the Making of slate: four VIP-guided tours by directors and art teams through the inner workings of their movies.
- DreamWorks Animation will take us behind the scenes of its two new features The Boss Baby: Family Business and Spirit Untamed, also included in Screening Events.
- Netflix will revisit the two seasons of Love, Death + Robots, already a cult-status adult animation series.
- Baobab Studios will lead us along the artistic and technological path of Erick Oh’s most personal project to date: Namoo.
Keynote: Through an exclusive glimpse of Evolver – Prologue, a VR experience lead by Terrence Malick (executive producer), produced by Marshmallow Laser Feast (United Kingdom) and Atlas V (France), and in co-production with Orange – Division XR, this presentation will explore the current state of immersive entertainment through three themes: creative potential, technological breakthrough, and spectators expectations.
For animation lovers, Annecy is once again presenting an inspiring, entertaining and thought-provoking array of Feature Films along its two tracks:
Official Competition (notes by Marcel Jean)
- My Sunny Maad by Michaela Pavlatova– France, Czech Republic. “My Sunny Maad is the first feature film by a female director awarded the Cristal for a Short Film in 2012. It is a touching story full of nuances and subtlety about a Western woman’s experience of living in Afghanistan. Without doubt one of the most eagerly awaited films of the year!”
- The Ape Star by Linda Hamback – Denmark, Norway, Sweden. “A film that follows the grand tradition of cinema for young audiences, from the north of Europe”
- Snotty Boy by Marcus Rosenmuller, Santiago Lopez Jover – Germany, Austria. “A pleasant surprise for this first animation feature produced in the Austrian vernacular; a funny movie that takes a biting look at reality.”
- You Animal! The Nimfa Dimaano Story by Avid Liongoren – Philippines. “One of the selection’s special surprises. A fun and funny film tackling adult topics, with complex characters and a scathing depiction of social differences.”
- Poupelle of Chimney Town by Hirota Yusuke – Japan. “An absolutely astonishing, profoundly original futuristic work coming to us from Studio 4°C.”
- Jiang Ziya: The Legend of Deification by Li Wei, Cheng Teng – China. “A spectacular action and adventure work, another lush example of the artistic ambitions and high technical feats of Chinese animation.”
- The Deer King by Ando Masashi, Miyaji Masayuki – Japan. “Production I.G studio’s most recent production, a film impatiently awaited by animation fans. This is a complex, expansive and ambitious work. Among others, Masachi Ando is known for having worked alongside Hayao Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon.”
- Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden. “A highly-anticipated feature film coming to us after its incredible success early this year at Sundance.”
- Lamya’s Poem by Alex Kronemer – Canada, U.S.A. “A movie which belongs to the introductory geopolitical sphere, quite present in animation cinema the recent years with such films as The Breadwinner. Lamya’s Poem is the first animation feature directed by Alex Kronemer, already the scriptwriter of Bilal: A New Breed of Heroes, selected out of competition at Annecy 2015.”
- Josee, The Tiger and the Fish by Tamura Kotaro – Japan. “A juicy rom-com produced by Bones that holds pride of place at the Festival’s opening session.”
The Fondation Gan pour le Cinéma has been backing the Annecy International Animation Film Festival for 15 years. In 2021, this partnership will grow even stronger: the Gan Foundation Award for Distribution will now reward a feature film from the official competition. The 20,000 € endowed prize will be awarded to the French distributor of the film chosen by the Fondation and will enable the winner to conduct one or more specific promotional operations for the film’s theatrical release. This prize should help audiences and films find one another, above and beyond the Festival. For over 30 years the Fondation Gan has been rewarding ambitious and unique feature films, both fiction and animation, so far honoring over 200 eminent filmmakers.
Contrechamp Feature Films
- Mount Fuji Seen from a Moving Train by Pierre Hébert – Canada. “A living legend in film-stock engraving and animated explorations combining documentary and multi-disciplinary experimentations, Pierre Hébert has gifted us today with a major work inspired by pioneer Robert Breer.”
- Archipelago by Félix Dufour-Laperriere – Canada “This film signals the return of a filmmaker with a strong artistic touch, just two years after treating us to Ville Neuve, also competing in the Contrechamp section. What we have here is a visually sumptuous essay, reminiscent of the spirit of Chris Marker.”
- Cryptozoo by Dash Shaw – U.S.A. “Cryptozoo comes to us following rave reviews at Berlin and Sundance. This feature film spins its magic between poetry, science-fiction and political philosophy. With it, Dash Shaw has shown himself to be a rightful heir to René Laloux.”
- Chicken of the Mound by Chen Xi – Germany, China. “This movie will astound many! The director entices us into a world thronging with robots, a mix between David O’Reilly and Matrix.”
- Climbing by Kim Hye-mi – South Korea. “Climbing follows a female character obsessed with mountain climbing and performance, forced to face her own personal demons. Here is a film that flickers between intrigue, mystery and nightmare.”
- Absolute Denial by Ryan Braund – United Kingdom. “A one-man work that once again describes how an artificial intelligence can overtake its creator.”
- Bob Spit – We Do Not Like People by Cesar Cabral – Brazil. “This film was to have been part of the Annecy 2020 selection. Unfortunately, this stop-motion documentary dedicated to the famous artist Angeli could not be completed on time due to the pandemic. We are so very happy to be able to present it to you this year.”
- My Uncle José by Ducca Rrios – Brazil. “A political and historical work made for young viewers. A beautiful example of the creativity that has courageously survived in Brazilian animation through these very tough times.”
- City of Lost Things by Yee Chih-Yen – Taïwan. “This work entices us into a city awash with plastic bags and other discarded items. What we have here is an original piece, with a strong musical underpinning.”
Outside the competition, audiences will find more special Screen Events and sneak previews. On Monday, June 14 at 8 :30 p.m., an in-competition Japanese film will open the celebrations: Josee, The Tiger and the Fish by Tamura Kotaro (distributed by Eurozoom). As a prelude, Annecy will present the world premiere of Tomorrow’s Leaves, an animated short by Studio Ponoc (Mary and the Witch’s Flower), hand-drawn and hand-painted. Additional presentations are feature films Wolfwalkers by Ross Stewart and Tomm Moore in Haut et Court, Spirit Untamed by Elaine Bogan and Ennio Torresan, Jr. (followed by a live Q&A), Even Mice Belong in Heaven by Denisa Grimmova, Jan Bubenicek, The Mitchells vs. the Machines by Mike Rianda and Jeff Rowe (followed by a live Q&A), Luca from Pixar Animation Studios (live introduction with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren), Coppelia by Jeff Tudor, Ben Tesseur, Steven De Beul, and Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon by Richard Claus and Jose Zelada.
The closing ceremony will be followed by a presentation of short films: Jung & Restless by Joanna Priestley, Boy Oh Boy by Stephen Irwin, Flight by Samuel Yal, Blush by Joe Mateo (Apple/Skydance) and Us Again by Zach Parrish (Walt Disney Animation Studios).
Annecy and the women of animation: Annecy was among the first festivals to sign the ‘Charte 50/50’ in 2018, and it is continuing to march toward gender equality. On the programming front, in 60 years the Festival has gone from 9% to nearly 45% of movies directed by women as part of the 2021 Official Selection. Women will represent over 40% of the speakers at the different meetings organized this year. This percentage hits 42% for the Works in Progress participants and 50% for the Masterclasses. Historical levels for these categories. And on the juries, gender parity is also applied.
Mifa Campus: As every year, an emblematic figure of the animation world will be on hand for the Mifa Campus, coming to inspire and encourage the students and young talents of tomorrow’s animation. This year, and more specifically to celebrate African animation in Annecy as well as Africa 2020 Season, the event welcomes 2021 Mifa Campus Patron: Marguerite Abouet. Marguerite Abouet and her guests, who will share their artistic and professional career paths in animation, reveal their ties with Africa, and share their thoughts, convictions and advice on how to progress in the animation industry.
Annecy will also welcome special guest William Kentridge, a multi-disciplinary artist whose work in animation will be showcased in a retrospective at the Annecy Festival. Kentridge will embark on the Mifa Campus for a conversation with N’Goné Fall, general curator for Africa2020 Season. They will both inspire and encourage numerous artists from Africa and around the world.
This year’s Mifa Animation Industry Award will be bestowed on Cape Town’s Triggerfish Animation Studios (Revolting Rhymes, Stick Man, Khumba).
“In this year of celebrating African animation, we wanted to extol the work of an African studio, a genuine trail-blazer of animation in its home country. Its journey in just a few years resulted in the production and shooting of series and feature films which have already earned a constellation of prizes. The studio has helped train talents in South Africa and throughout the African continent, structuring an industry to give all its professionals support,” noted Véronique Encrenaz, Head of Mifa. “We are overjoyed to bestow this prize on Triggerfish Animation Studios. Congratulations to Stuart Forrest and his entire team!”
Find the full Festival and MIFA program at www.annecy.org/programme-2021.