John and Faith Hubley
John and Faith Hubley in Annecy

Cima Balser, the wife of animation director Bob Balser, has written a fantastic piece for AWN about the early years of the Annecy International Animation Festival. As much fun as it is to attend the festival nowadays, I can only imagine the excitement of those glory years when one could mingle lakeside with the likes of Bobe Cannon, Chuck Jones, John and Faith Hubley, Pete Burness, Bill Littlejohn, George Dunning, Peter Foldes, Yoji Kuri, and all the other greats of animation that I so admire. Cima’s article is one of my favorite historical reads in recent months, and she offers many wonderful stories about the festival that I’d never heard, such as this one about the Hubleys:

“That was the year that John and Faith Hubley showed their Of Stars and Men. We had noticed that the French audiences were not restrained in any way from showing their regard for each film. As well as wild applause, there were equally loud boos, and worse yet, the sound of stomping feet walking out and slamming the door as loudly as possible.

“Each filmmaker, when their film was projected, was obliged to sit in the balcony box, which we all rapidly named “The Hot Box,” and take a bow — to either applause or boos, and in this case the boos were heartbreaking. John and Faith bowed and then exited as quickly as possible. I still firmly believe this is one of the most important and beautiful animated films ever made, and we tried to assuage their deep disappointment, and assure them this was a film for all time. Alas, it has been forgotten, which is a loss to all of us.”

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