Annecy In Brief

in 40th Annecy International Animation Film Festival

by Bernard Génin

Victory to France and Canada this year in Annecy. The festival was an incredible success, more than 9000 accreditations (up from 8000 last year) and many young students (a quarter of people coming to Annecy are aged around 20). France won with feature films, and Canada with shorts. Two countries that are in good health with “film d’auteur”. For example, The Girl Without Hands (La Jeune fille sans mains), by Sébastien Laudenbach, who received a Jury Mention is the result of many years of work by a solitary artist. It deserves to meet its public. My Life As A Courgette (Ma Vie de courgette), by Claude Barras, (winner of the Cristal for a feature film and Audience Award) is a very delicate and sensitive story about a young orphan, designed with puppets. Two Special French “avant-première” out of competition films received an ovation: The Red Turtle (La Tortue rouge) – a French and Japanese co-production – by Michael Dudok de Wit, and Louise (Louise en hiver), by Jean-François Laguionie.

We also agree with the Jury, who gave a Short Film Special Prize to Blind Vaysha (Vaysha l’aveugle) – Canada – by Theodore Ushev (who also won a Junior Jury Prize). This Bulgarian artist living in Canada is one of the rare personalities who may be compared with the best artists once revealed in Annecy, such as Rybcynski, Svankmajer, Fredéric Back etc.

But, if the Franco-Canadian A Head Disappears (Une tête disparaît) by Franck Dion (Cristal for the Short winner) is aesthetically irreproachable, it is also without any surprise or emotion, everything being given at the beginning of the film.

Let’s not forget a wonderful Audience Award (and Prize André Martin), which was given to Peripheria, by David Coquard-Dassault (France). It offers a remarkable vision of a deserted suburb just before its demolition. There was also a Cristal of honour presented to the famous French producer Didier Brunner (Kirikou, Triplets of Belleville etc.)

We noticed more and more films are handmade, with only a little help from computers. But a question still remains about the public success of these productions. The American ascendancy in animation (Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks) still dominates in Europe. There is an incredible rush of students every time a major company presents its new project. But offering Jeffrey Katzenberg (Dreamworks) a special ticket to Annecy for the rest of his life seams a little demagogic. Many European producers do not really earn money with feature films. And they exist in France only with the help of television and the French CNC (National Center of Cinéma). The theatres full of enthusiastic people of Annecy could be an illusion.

President Hollande came and visited only the MIFA (International Market of Animation). We hope he is conscious the short film competition is also home to artists who need to be encouraged and helped.

Edited by Amber Wilkinson