This year's Annecy guests include (l. to r.) "Peanuts Movie" director Steve Martino, "Mind Game" director Masaaki Yuasa, and "Hotel Transylvania 2" director Genndy Tartakovsky.
This year’s Annecy guests include (l. to r.) “Peanuts Movie” director Steve Martino, “Mind Game” director Masaaki Yuasa, and “Hotel Transylvania 2” director Genndy Tartakovsky.

Over the past few years, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival has evolved from being the world’s largest animation film festival into being both a film festival and a San Diego Comic-Con-style event with sneak peeks, exclusive previews, and panels devoted to Hollywood studio projects.

Annecy benefits by taking place in June, a month before Comic-Con, and Hollywood studios are increasingly showing off their A-list animation projects at the festival in southern France before previewing them to San Diego audiences. The enthusiastic crowds at Annecy, which are noticeably free of fanboys and comprised almost entirely of artists, students, and industry professionals, can make the experience of premiering a project there very special; last year the Disney short Feast received a foot-stomping ovation that rocked the entire theater.

With its newly unveiled 2015 programming lineup, Annecy has presented what is arguably its most ambitious slate of Hollywood industry-oriented programming to date, but not at the expense of European and foreign animation, or independent works, all of which are well represented.

For the full lineup of films and events, visit the festival website. Here are just a few of this year’s event highlights, including special screenings, presentations, and masterclasses:

  • Keynote speeches by Hotel Transylvania director and Samurai Jack creator Genndy Tartakovsky and Illumination Entertainment founder Chris Meledandri.
  • Exclusive first footage of Disney’s Zootopia, followed by a Q&A with directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore.
  • World premiere of Ghost in the Shell: The Movie directed by Kazuchika Kise and Kazuya Nomura.
  • Anatomy of a Studio sessions dedicated to Sergio Pablos Animation and Cube.
  • A screening of the first 40 minutes of Dofus—Book 1: Julith, the debut feature from Ankama Studio, based on the company’s popular MMORPG.
  • Screening of Illumination’s The Minions.
  • Masterclass on pinscreen animation techniques by Michèle Lemieux.
  • “Animating without Dialogue: The Animation in the Feature Shaun the Sheep Movie” with lead Aardman animator William Becher.
  • Richard Williams presenting screenings of The Thief and the Cobbler.
  • Open-air screenings of Pinocchio to mark the film’s 75th anniversary and Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed.
  • The Peanuts Movie work-in-progress session with director Steve Martino and art director Nash Dunnigan.
  • First footage from Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur with director Pete Sohn.
  • The Red Turtle work-in-progress session with director Michael Dudok de Wit and head of backgrounds Julien De Man, among others.
  • A masterclass with Pocoyo co-creator Guillermo Garcia Carsi.
  • A presentation by Pierre Coffin, co-director of Despicable Me and Minions.
  • Adventure Time making-of panel with Adam Muto, Masaaki Yuasa, Eunyoung Choi, Elizabeth Ito, Kelly Crews, Kirsten Lepore, and Jesse Moynihan.
  • Making-of sessions for The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water and The Book of Life with as-yet unannounced guests.