Cels, Puppets, Computer Animation, Photographs… By Francis Gavelle

in 31st Annecy International Animated Film Festival

by Francis Gavelle

The first thing to say about the 31 st edition of Annecy is that the level of the competition was high, very high. First of all, it gave us the opportunity to discover – or to see again if you were in Clermont-Ferrand this year – the new films by the great masters of animation, more specifically in animated paintings: on cels, with an amazing and surprising whirlwind of forms, colors and characters : Jeu by the Swiss Georges Schwizgebel; on glass, with the story under the influence of a classic of romantic literature (Ivan Turgenev’s First love), Moya lyubov (My Love) by the Russian Alexander Petrov.

Secondly, it was the opportunity to confirm or discover talented directors in the use of puppets – in contrast to the work by Peter Lord and Nick Park with Wallace and Gromit . A confirmation with two prizes, the Audience Award and the Annecy Crystal – for Suzie Templeton and her Peter and the Wolf , a technically remarkable and emotionally expressive (1) transposition of the Prokofiev’s musical tale. A discovery with the duo Szczerbowski/Lavis and their Madame Tutli-Putli (2): a new production from the so prolific National Film Board of Canada, which tells of a mysterious journey by train by a woman. It uses an innovative technique in which a complex computer works the eyes of an actress into the face of the puppet. And Madame Tutli-Putli may become a new Nicole Kidman!

It is also important to mention the shorts closer to experimental cinema than pure animation by their treatment of live action (the American Eric Dyer and his Copenhagen Cycles, showing, through a zoetrope, a quiet bicycle journey in the streets of Denmark’s capital city) or of photos (the German Bert Gottschalk and his Bildfenster/ Fensterbilder – in English, Framing –, comparing, with fascinating editing, and 8mm framing, the windows in building facades of a city). Of course, this quick panorama leaves out a lot of other very good films – only to mention, the very strange Pearce Sisters by Luis Cook, a 2D computer’s work and a black tale of love, shipwrecks and cups of tea, which won a special jury award; or the poetic and funny Lavatory – Lovestory by the well-known Konstantin Bronzit (3).

However, I want to end by saying some words about Andreas Hydake’s The Runt. Born in Bavaria in 1968, Hydake studied in Fine Arts in Stuttgart, worked in London as an animator and is now a freelance filmmaker, celebrated for his shorts, music videos and commercials. His last film, here presented, tells the story of a young boy disputing with his uncle the right to kill a new-born blue rabbit, the runt, and agreeing to take care of the rabbit for one year before killing it with his own hands. A story of the passage from childhood to adulthood, The Runt is 10 minutes of pure emotion, carried by a beautiful use of contrasting bright yellow and dark colors and the stylized child’s drawings.. For these major qualities, The Runt was distinguished by the FIPRESCI prize, out of a very attractive selection.