News and Highlights from Annecy 2016 (Animation Film Festival)Claude Harrington 06.20.2016
Last week, the 2016 Annecy International Animated Film Festival was held in Annecy, France. As one of the most prestigious festivals in the world—considered by many to be “The Cannes of Animation”—this annual event provides an insight into the latest and greatest in the world of animation. So let’s review some of the most interesting news and highlights—the who, what and wow—that dazzled at Annecy this year.
The Annecy International Animated Film Festival has been around since 1960, but has changed a little bit over the years. What began as a small, film-club-driven event that took place every other year has blossomed into an annual must-see film festival, which features competitions in four categories:
- Feature films
- Short films
- TV and commissioned films
- Student films
In addition to the competitions, the festival also has special events, programs and exhibitions. Concurrently, and in conjunction with the festival, there’s also an extremely active Film Market (MIFA), which this year included over 500 exhibits and over 300 buyers/distributors. Needless to say, there was a lot going on in Annecy last week. Here are a few of the highlights…
Hollywood Animation Powers
Hollywood came to Annecy in full force. All of the major animation studios had a presence at the festival and six of the eight upcoming Hollywood studio animation releases for this year received privileged play. Among the highlights, Universal’s Illumination Entertainment premiered The Secret Life of Pets at Annecy, three weeks before its box office opening.
My Life as a Courgette
Less than a month after premiering at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight, Claude Barras’s stop-motion feature film My Life as a Courgette took home the Crystal award for “Best Animated Feature.” But My Life as a Courgette wasn’t just a hit with the judges; the animated film also won the coveted “Audience Award.”
Clocking in at just over an hour, the film tells the story of Courgette, a 10-year-old boy who is sent to a foster home following his mother’s sudden death. At first, Courgette struggles to find his place in this strange environment, but soon he learns to trust, find love and, ultimately, a new family.
Stick Man, produced by Triggerfish and Magic Light Pictures, won the Cristal for a TV production. Based on Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler’s children’s book of the same name, Stick Man tells the story of a happy-go-lucky father’s epic journey to make it home in time for Christmas. Voices by stars like Martin Freeman and Jennifer Saunders, this animated short debuted on BBC1 for Christmas 2015. Triggerfish will be collaborating with Magic Light Pictures on another Christmas special BBC adaptation. This time they’ll be bringing Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes to life.
Alexandre Espigares upcoming White Fang won the festival’s “Gan Foundation Prize,” which is given to the most outstanding work in progress. Based on Jack London’s classic novel, White Fang is a co-production between France’s Superprod and Luxembourg Bidibul Productions and Little Miss Sunshine producer Big Beach.
At the MIFA market, Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s Flee won the Disney Channel Prize for best new series. Flee, an animated documentary, tells the story of an Afghan immigrant who mysteriously showed up in the Danish countryside at the age of 11.
PJ Masks and Skylanders
France’s animation studio TeamTO announced, known for their great CGI work, announced production of second seasons for two popular animated series: PJ Masks (which will air on Disney) and Skylanders (Netflix). The CGI will be split between TeamTO’s studios in Paris and La Cartoucherie.
Directors Ron Clements and Jon Musker—best known for directing ’90s Disney classics like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid—unveiled 19 minutes of their upcoming Disney animated feature Moana. Set among the islands of Oceania in the South Pacific, Moana explores the mystery of why Polynesian explorers, who were once the world’s greatest navigators, suddenly stopped sailing for nearly 1,000 years. Moana is set to hit theaters this November.
Outside of the films themselves, one of the big highlights at Annecy are the masterclasses, in which veteran animators discusses the craft of animation. This year’s audience was treated to several great presentations, including one from animator John Kricfalusi (Migthty Mouse, Ren & Stimpy) and filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim). Towards the end of Del Toro’s presentation, he showed off footage from his upcoming Netflix series Trollhunters.
Samurai Jack…is Back
Lastly, fans of Samurai Jack were delighted to learn (and see!) more about the return of the beloved cartoon series. At Annecy, creator Genndy Tartakovsky debuted some new concept art and hinted that the show would be coming to Adult Swim in the near future.
According to Tartakovsky, this new season will consist of 10 episodes and be paced like a “five-hour movie.” It will take place 50 years after the events of the show, examining the toll the past five decades have upon Jack in a darker way than the show could skew previously.
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