jeudi 12 septembre 2013

Back to animated films in Annecy's Festival

Here's a first attempt to publish in english. Please comment for the akward or wrong expressions. Hope you'll enjoy it. Thanks to Rachid Ouadah for correcting and enriching the french version on his blog, and to Bruce Ritz for the suggested changes in the english version.


As the latest Pixar film hit screens and while many French feature animated films are awaited, here's a look back at the latest International Animated Film Festival which took place in Annecy (France) from June, 10th to 15th, 2013.

Before Poznan, Zagreb and Ottawa Film Fest, Annecy's Festival is both the oldest and biggest display of animated film in the world today. The city of Annecy itself, also nicknamed "The Alpine Venice", is the ideal setting for a film Festival : a former quiet Geneva county, then a savoyan county with center-right wing heritage and a cultural life illustrated by a carnival, a pasture celebration and another film Festival dedicated to italian cinema.
For the time being, "Albigny avenue" and its waterfront by the lake simply looks like an easygoing Croisette.

15 years ago in this preserved surrounding, Serge Bromberg, the artistic director, set the Disney cat among the pigeons for a worthwhile collaboration. But this year, the handover from the French spirit to the Canadian one was a challenge for the new artistic director, Marcel Jean (Also known as a film producer at the NFB, the Canadian National Film Board, film critic, film teacher and at times, film maker).

Marcel Jean, nouveau délégué général du festival, paraît plus grand s'il est filmé en contre-plongée (photo : G. Costes).

Marcel Jean seems indeed taller in low angle shot (Photo : Georges Coste)

For this Festival, even with a great atmosphere and lively reaction from the audience, one should say there were several challenges.
This year, the Festival was "On the road" bereft of its main place, under construction for the next two years. Where Cannes has its "Palais des Festivals", Berlin, its Sony Center, La Rochelle, its Coursive, Annecy will inherit a bunch of tents and prefabricated houses near an horse stud built as a movie theater.
Film scheduling was full of expensive feature films as well as small intimate or avant-garde short films so that big professional people of this industry met creators and film fans. It's been a while since animated film is no longer considered a children matter but an industry of genuine economic and cultural interest. The visit of French Minister of Culture, Aurélie Filippetti at the Film Market testified to that.
Aurélie Filippetti, actuelle Ministre de la Culture (2012-) (photo : Georges Coste).
Eric Garandeau, French Film council executive and Aurélie Filippetti, minister of culture.
Prizewinning films were as various as the audience. The Short Film Crystal, the biggest prize of the Festival went to "Subconscious Password" from the Canadian director Chris Landreth.
It's a relief this film got a prize because it carries a both singular, yet universal message.
This short film aims at showing how the brain works with manifold and sometimes disconcerting animation techniques.

The film awarded for the best commissioned film is also incidental. It's a small music video where Julian Frost's naive style contrasts with a cruelty mood. "Dumb Ways to die" is part of an ad campaign promoting transportation security for the Melbourne subway system.

The Feature Film Crystal went to "Rio 2096 : a story of love and fury", an ambitious film by Luiz Bolognesi which tells the history of Brazil through an immortal character, from the late 16th century to the late 21st century. The traditionnal handmaid drawings on cels (celluloid transparents sheets) are amazing. Fury in the title found some echoes on the news of that summer through riots in Brazil just the same day as the film got awarded.

Another selected film connected with recent news was "Aunt Hilda !" by Jacques-Remy Girerd and Benoît Chieux. It tried to explain to children dangers of GMO food supported by animated watercolour drawings and a bunch of famous French actresses (Sabine Azéma and Josiane Balasko). Warmly welcomed by a standing ovation, this production by Folimage Studio should be on French screens soon. Girerd is well-known for "Raining Cats and frogs" and "Mia and the Migoo".

Extrait de Tante Hilda!, fable engagée contre les organismes et les dessins animés génétiquement modifiés (Folimage).
A clip from "Aunt Hilda !" comitted against genetically modified companies and cartoons. (Folimage)

"O Apostolo" (The Apostle) from Fernando Cortizo, won the Public Prize for its mesmerizing frame-by-frame animated pupets. This will be the first full stop-motion 3D feature film in Europe. This technique adds even more ruggedness to this dark crime story taking place in the depths of a small Spanish village.

Some screenings takes places thanks to the specific atmosphere of the Festival, as it was with the special Disney screening of "Get a horse". This short film is a tribute to the very first Mickey Mouse black and white film of the 1920's, like "Steamboat Willie". The film was introduced by Eric Goldberg, director, among other films, of "Pocahontas" and wearing a, now traditional, Hawaian yellow and green shirt.
Another special screening included a concert from the French pop singer Dionysos around a feature film that he is currently finishing, "Jack and the cuckoo-clock heart", right in the movie theater !

Voices from other French singers and famous french actors (like Jean Rochefort) can also be heard in this 3D CGI film, telling the story of a boy whose clockworked heart explodes if he's too boldly in love.

As the Annecian audience usually does, this year also, paper airplanes were thrown at the screen and people shouted "rabbit !" ("Lapin" in french) as many times as any other editions of this warm-hearted Festival. At last, the former artistic director Serge Bromberg presented the closing ceremony alongside Marcel Jean, as he cheerfully passed the baton.

Prizewinning films on the official Annecy Festival Website