Too Few Avant-Garde Films

in 36th Annecy International Animated Film Festival

by Daniel Kothenschulte

Some Actions Which Haven't Been Defined Yet in the RevolutionWalt Disney would have been envious. The happiest place in the world is not Disneyland anymore. Now it is Annecy. Despite the fact that the short film competition turned out to be rather disappointing, everybody had a wonderful time. It consisted of just five programs showcasing only a handful of artistically daring works that were competing with studio films such as the new “Daffy Duck” (an uninspired 3D-animation called Daffy’s Rhapsody).              

Avant-garde film making which used to be heralded by this festival in the sixties and seventies does not appear to be much of an issue since director Serge Bromberg (now parting after 14 years) opened its doors widely to the commercial industries.

Fortunately the only abstract film in the program, Modern No. 2 by Mirai Mizue (Japan), won a highly deserved prize for its music. The most demanding film of the program came from Chinese visual artist Xun Sun: Some Actions Which Haven’t Been Defined Yet in the Revolution makes innovative use of woodcut animation in deconstructing the propagandist aesthetics of Maoism.        

This important festival could easily achieve A-status if its programmers would focus more on international premieres. However, many films here were already well known from other festivals or the internet. This made the great feature section even more important. Sadly, The Dearest, the most remarkable achievement in the field of drama, remained unrecognized by the juries. This South Korean social drama about an abused orphan is daring in many ways. Directed by two women film makers in their mid twenties, this feature made innovative use of the anime style which functioned like a Brechtian distancing effect. Even today discrimination against children born out of wedlock and their mothers is an everyday issue in Korea. The film makers found a visually discrete way to touch on this important issue.

Edited by Steven Yates