fbpx

Annecy International Animation Film Festival is the world’s largest animation festival, next to the beautiful Lac d’Annecy and the striking French Alps – making it a hard place to convince 11,000 people to sit inside and watch films in the dark. But we do anyway because everyone at Annecy is mad about animation.

Annecy long-time no see

I hadn’t been to Annecy International Animation Film Festival since I was a student in 2012. It felt very much the same animation festival it always was, but it did feel a lot busier, with about 4000 extra people attending Annecy this year. Queue’s for screenings would start hours before the doors opened and general ticket sales sold out in seconds when the website launched (and crashed). All of the cinema screens and areas used to showcase the animations had stayed the same in my seven-year absence. It was great not to have to get my bearings again as the various cinemas are quite spread out. And it allowed for some nostalgia to creep in. 

The Annecy App

A significant change that I loved was my first introduction to the Annecy app. Simply logging into the app and reserving tickets for a screening instantly updated your lanyard for easy entry. I found the app to work great and even spotted some tickets for sold-out screenings every now and again. It is also handy to see what is on each day, and it won’t let you accidentally book two screenings that clash.

MIFA – International Animation Film Market

Another essential feature of the festival is the International Animation Film Market or MIFA as it is more commonly known. Here is where the Picturesmith showreel was playing, at the Department for International Trade stall. In this area hundreds of stalls allow different animation companies and embassies from around the world to represent themselves. Pitching, promoting and recruiting animation and animators.
It is a real eye-opener to the amount of animation going on in the world and the sheer diversity of the craft. From game engines like Unity showing that you can make films entirely within it. To motion capture stop motion puppets from SMODO; the market has it all. It’s here where I met up with Citoplasmas who had a stall advertising their animation studio and Kinetic Armatures range.

What I love most about Annecy

Putting faces to names and meeting up with people you’ve followed and talked to through various social media. Naturally, most of this networking takes place at two pubs after the screenings are over. The Captain Pub and Café des Arts are usually bursting at the seams with students and professionals networking and drinking overpriced beer. It’s a great opportunity to review the screenings you’ve seen and would recommend, and talk about the world of animation.
With the stop motion world being so small, I was continually bumping into people I knew, had shared a house with or had talked to online (probably picking their brain about how they had achieved a particular shot). Annecy is an excellent opportunity to catch up with animators from all over the world. Several picnics take place over the week held by various animation studios big and small so keep an eye on social media for where and when they are.

Grand Salle

If you are going to Annecy, then you need to see at least one screening in the Grand Salle, the biggest cinema the festival has. The atmosphere when watching a film in there is always fantastic. Annecy also has many quirks and traditions before the movie starts. Everyone makes paper aeroplanes intending to fly the plane down to the cinema screen, resulting in a cheer from the cinema. Spot them all in the photo above in the Toy Story 4 screening. Often I’ve seen planes take a nosedive after about a foot and others pick up massive amounts of speed and crash into the back of people’s heads, always great fun.

As it goes dark everyone this year started to make what sounded like underwater bubble noises and towards the end of the week animal noises, I’m not sure who decides these things or whether it’s a naturally occurring phenomena, but again it is excellent fun to hear hundreds of people barking like dogs before a film.

Screenings

The screening starts with the annual Gobelins animations that their students make; these are always incredible, and follow a theme with a new animation playing on each day of the festival. This year’s theme seemed to be Japan and food!

Afterwards, the Annecy Partners’ trailer played made by the stop motion wizards Beast Animation. Used as the trailer for the festival in general but also played before each screening. Leading us to maybe the most important tradition which is shouting LAPIN (you can even buy a rabbit pin in the official store!) anytime you see a rabbit on screen, and this trailer sure had a lot of rabbits.
They snuck them into all of the Gobelins shorts as well, the rabbit in the video above is tricky to find! It was great to see a stop motion piece take centre stage and play so often. Beast Animation had even set up an exhibition showing off some of their previous work, including some props and characters from a favourite of mine, A Town Called Panic. Two of the team even cycled from their studio in Belgium, and filmed the trip!

Highlights from Annecy 2019

The festival has a wide variety of different screenings to go and see, from blockbusters like Toy Story 4 to student films in competition there is a lot to take in. Some highlights that I saw included:

Short Films Young Audience in Competition:

  • Grand Loup & Petit Loup | Belgium, France – Rémi DURIN
  • Mon papi s’est caché | France – Anne HUYNH
  • Le crocodile ne me fait pas peur | Spain – Marc RIBA, Anna SOLANAS
  • Sarkan | Czech Republic – Martin SMATANA
  • Nest | Germany – Sonja ROHLEDER
  • Le Renard et l’Oisille | Belgium, Switzerland – Samuel GUILLAUME, Frédéric GUILLAUME
  • Dobroe serdtse | Russia – Evgeniya JIRKOVA
  • The Wheat Keeper  | China – Haitao BAI
  • Bone Mother | Canada – Sylvie TROUVÉ, Dale HAYWARD

I loved all of these shorts and in particular Grand Loup & Petit Loup (Big Wolf & Little Wolf), Sarkan (The Kite) and Dobroe Serdtse (Good Heart). The use of layers on the puppets in The Kite was terrific and worked for the story it was telling.

Women in Animation (WIA) and Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA): The New Face of Animation Leadership in Hollywood:

  • Melissa COBB (VPOriginals & Animation/Netflix)
  • Margie COHN (President/Dreamworks Animation)
  • Kristine BELSON (President/Sony Pictures Animation)
  • Allison ABBATE (EVP/Warner Animation Group)
  • Andrea MILORO (Co-President/Fox Animation)
  • Ramsey NAITO (EVPAnimation Production & Development/Nickelodeon)

This was a super exciting discussion held in the Impérial Palace, talking about each women’s experience in the industry with questions about how they got there and what they have each done to bring more women into the world of animation.

Annecy Classics – Animation Outlaws:

  • Directed by: Kat ALIOSHIN

This was such a beautiful documentary made about the history of Spike & Mike’s Sick & Twisted Animation Festival (they screen it as a midnight special, and it is always a great laugh) and how it came about and the sheer impact it had on the animation community. It featured a lot of shots of Annecy back in the day, which was nice to see.

Looney Tunes Cartoons:

  • Peter Browngardt (Looney Tunes Cartoons Executive Producer), Alex Kirwan (Looney Tunes Cartoons Production Director), Audrey Diehl (Vice President, Series, Warner Bros. Animation) and Sam Register (President, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Digital Series)

Great talk with the creative team behind the new Looney Tunes Cartoons, they showed lots of cartoons but also some behind the scenes footage and an insight into how they went about bringing the cartoons back.

Toy Story 4:

  • Josh Cooley (Director Pixar/Toy Story 4), Jonas Rivera (Producer Pixar/Toy Story 4), Mark Nielson (Producer Pixar/Toy Story 4)

Pixar is a guilty pleasure of mine and the longest I queued for anything!

Annecy Top Tips

I had a fantastic time, and it is quite amazing to spend a whole week immersed in the world of animation. You get to meet great people and top up your tan when it’s not raining. I’ll finish off with some handy tips that I think could help out people going for the first time. Attending the festival is quite overwhelming when you first arrive with the number of things going on!

  • Plan your day before you head out. Some screenings are further apart than you think, don’t overdo it. Pick your favourites and stick to three of four screenings a day.
  • Some screenings are on more than once and sometimes 3/4 times so don’t worry about missing out on things.
  • Make sure to pack for the sun and the rain, I certainly did not and spent the first couple of days running from tree to tree.
  • Don’t be put off by a long queue; the cinemas can fit in more people than you think. I got into a couple of screenings that looked hopeless
  • If your accommodation isn’t too close, you can buy a week-long bus ticket from the tourism office. There are loads of buses, including night buses, and you get a discount with your accreditation.
  • Try to get tickets in advance if you can (very hard to do!) and make good use of the app, reserving tickets and keeping an eye on what is going on.

For a visual rundown of my experience make sure to check out our Instagram Highlight story!