Les Sommets 2020 lineup Les Sommets 2020 lineup

The 19th edition of Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation, Montreal’s annual animation festival, is going ahead next week in a stripped-back, virtual format.

The program of industry events will take place online, free to all. The film screenings were due to take place at the Cinémathèque québécoise, which hosts the festival, on December 1–6; with Montreal’s cinemas forced to remain shut until at least January 11, they have been postponed until spring. Awards will nevertheless be presented next week.

Here are the industry events (note that all times are ET):

  • NFB-Sommets Artists’ Talk: Animator-director Joanna Quinn and writer-producer Les Mills will talk about their upcoming short film Affairs of the Art, the latest outing for Quinn’s long-running Beryl character. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker recently spoke to us as part of our series The Animation That Changed Me. (Thursday, December 3, 2 p.m. English only)
  • Panel: A Sherpa for the Oscar Race: Christine Noël, head of marketing at the National Film Board of Canada, and Benoît Berthe Siward, founder and CEO of The Animation Showcase, will talk about what it takes to mount a successful Oscar campaign. (Friday, December 4, 2 p.m. French only)
  • Masterclass by Patrick Bouchard, the renowned Canadian animator and director (The Subject), who will speak about the process of creating the festival’s poster and signal film (see below) under lockdown. (Wednesday, December 2, 1 p.m. French)
  • Ceremony for the Prix René-Jodoin, a prize awarded yearly to a distinguished Canadian animation professional. This year’s recipient is Martine Chartrand, “a great humanist filmmaker who celebrated Black identity in two widely acclaimed films, Black Soul (2001) and Macpherson (2012),” according to the festival. (Saturday, December 5, 4 p.m. French only)

The competition prizes will be announced on Sunday, December 6. There are four competitive strands: international, Canadian, student, and very short films. The organizers have also planned a special screening of films “made in lockdown,” along with a few other surprises. In all, the program boasts 150 films, including 122 premieres from 20 countries.

Although the general public won’t get to watch these films until next year, the festival’s artistic director Marco de Blois has been busy interviewing the directors behind several films in competition. The conversations can be watched on the festival’s Youtube channel.

Les Sommets is Montreal’s premier animation get-together, with strong links to the National Film Board of Canada (which is based in the city). We dropped by last year, shortly before all hell broke loose in the world. Read our report here.

For more information about this year’s edition, head to the festival’s website.

Image at top, left to right: Joanna Quinn, Patrick Bouchard, Martine Chartrand.

Les Sommets 2020 poster