32nd Annecy International Animated Film Festival
France, June 9 - June 14 2008
No longer regarded as a minor film genre, animation continues to ascend in 2008. The 32nd International Animation Film Festival in Annecy this year celebrated two anniversaries: The centenary of France’ first animated film (Emile Cohl’s Fantasmagorie) and the 10th annual edition of the festival, which has run since 1960. Some 500 films from 38 countries were screened in the various program, including 30 features. The lavish schedule found room for many special programs, spotlights, conferences, project pitches, exhibitions and meetings. The 2008 edition of the festival was bigger than ever, with more than 6000 accredited guests. And if one adds in nights spent in front of the giant screen in the park near the festival center, there was really “No sleeping time, folks!”
If one must boil the Annecy festival down to just a few words, they probably should be “artistic richness” and “diversity”. Many of the films focused on serious political issues. (The festival opened with Ari Folman’s Waltz with Bashir.) Social jabs were delivered sharply in She Who Measures, by Croatia’s Veljiko Popovich, and in Paradise, by Canada’s Jesse Rosensweet — and in many other films, as well. As is customary in adult-oriented animation, psychoanalytical approaches and explorations of the dark side of human nature could be found in many works (and especially in Berni’s Doll by Yann J. and The Lady on the Threshold by Jorge Dayas from Spain). And, of course, humor swarmed out not only from the British (Matthew Walker’s John and Karen and Operator) but from Hungarians (Alexei Alexeev’s KJFG No 5) and South Africans (Brent Dawes’ Because You’re Gorgeous) too. The short program showed artistic creativity of a very high level; Veronique Cayla, General Director of the Centre National de la Cinematographie, called it “the most ambitious competition in the world”. The focus in Annecy has been always been on creativity and not on convention and stereotypes, but this year, such high ambitions were truly met.
Something new at Annecy festival was the accent on features. Comparing to previous years, there was a rich harvest of longer films. This reflects the trend in animated cinema to challenge live-action features for the same audience. The selection process in Annecy follows a unique formula, with the programmers displaying real skill to bring together big studio blockbusters with independent, artistic works. Each has the same chance in the Competition, and that makes this festival great both for the professionals and the public.
This year’s festival featured a large number of special programs, and two of them should be cited explicitly: “Colours of India” and “100 years of Fantasmagorie”. (Nadezhda Marinchevska)