Over 11,000 people from all over the world are descending right now upon Annecy, the lakeside town in the French Alps, for the largest animated film event in the world. The 2019 edition starts tomorrow, and like every year, the program is overflowing with hundreds of terrific events to attend, of which any single person can only hope to see a small percentage.

In addition to all of the animated shorts, features, and tv series in competition, which you should obviously make an effort to see, the festival presents unique discussions with industry leaders and filmmakers from around the world, masterclasses with legendary figures, premieres of new projects, and work-in-progress sessions of upcoming animated projects.

With such an immense list of possibilities throughout the week, here’s a look at a few of the highlights from across Annecy’s different sections that might give an idea of the scope of topics being addressed this year and the talented people in attendance. The full program can be found on the Annecy website.

Masterclass with Yôichi Kotabe
“Panda! Go, Panda!” directed by Isao Takahata.

Legendary Japanese animator Yôichi Kotabe, 82, will be in attendance for two separate conversations. On Monday, June 10 at 2:30pm in Bonlieu Petite Salle, Kotabe will recall major milestones in his career and discuss his collaborations with some of the most renowned figures in the history of Japanese animation.

Later in the week, on Friday, June 14 at 2:00pm in the Salle Pierre Lamy, the animator will dive specifically into the making of Isao Takahata’s Marco series released in 1976.

As a young artist in the early-1960s, Kotabe worked on Toei Animation’s feature The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon directed by Yasuji Mori. Later in the 1960s, he became one of Takahata’s closest collaborators starting with the 1968 film The Great Adventure of Horus: Prince of the Sun.

Soon after, Kotabe and Takahata, joined by Hayao Miyazaki, left Toei to work at TMS on Panda! Go, Panda! with Takahata directing, Miyazaki writing the screenplay, and Kotabe as head animator and character designer. Kotabe and Takahata subsequently worked together on the 1970s tv series Heidi, Girl of the Alps and 3000 Leagues in Search of Mother.

Drawing Audiences Into Movie Theaters: Innovative Strategies from European Animation Film Distributors
“The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” – Distributed in France by StudioCanal.

Cinemas now have to compete with increased access to content on digital platforms, which makes traditional distribution highly competitive and difficult to navigate for projects without the backing of a major studio. Addressing the changing landscape for theatrical distribution, this discussion will present strategies from specialists in distribution and marketing for animated features to succeed at the box office.

Featuring Maren Maier (delivery and acquisitions manager at Sola Media GmbH), Arnaud Rouvillois (marketing consultant at Get the Moon), Thierry Lacaze (head of theatrical, video and VOD distribution in France for Studiocanal), and Amel Lacombe (founder of Eurozoom), who will participate in the conversation moderated by Yann Marchet (president of Print The Legend). The session takes place 2pm on Wednesday, June 12, at the Impérial Palace Salle du lac.

From Animation to Live-Action: When VFX Bridge the Gap
“Godzilla: King of the Monsters” – Vfx partially created by DNEG

A group of vfx and animation experts will share their thoughts on how the integration of vfx into the pipeline of live-action, animation, and hybrid productions has discretely dissolved the lines between different mediums.

Moderated by Stéphane Malagnac (consultant at Prop’ose Communication) the panel includes Troy Saliba (animation director at DNEG), Arslan Elver (animation supervisor for Framestore London), Giles Davies (asset supervisor for MPC), Adrian García (a director who works with Folivari), and Thierry Onillon (vfx supervisor at Mac Guff Ligne). The conversation is scheduled for Thursday, June 13, at 11:00am in the Europe room of the Impérial Palace.

The Making of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe

“Steven Universe”

Rebecca Sugar will share the journey behind the creation of the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe, which follows a young boy whose Crystal Gems pals are magical aliens who defend the Earth. Over the course of five seasons, the show has become a bastion for LGBTQ representation in content aimed at young audiences.

Recently, Steven Universe made history becoming the first-ever animated series to win the Outstanding Kids & Family Programming Award at the GLAAD Media Awards. The groundbreaking series has also received a Peabody Award and an Emmy.

Ian Jones-Quartey, who executive produces the series along with Sugar, will also speak at the presentation on Friday, June 14, at 4:30pm in Salle Pierre Lamy.

Netflix Animation: A Studio Without Borders

“Mama K’s Team 4”

The creators behind four upcoming Netflix animated projects will share insight into their process and what we can expect from each of their series and features. This conversation aims to highlight the company’s commitment to diverse voices in animation from across the world.

The artists featured are Malenga Mulendema, creator of the Zambia-set series Mama K’s Team 4, Kris Pearn, director of the film The Willoughbys, Japanese producer Hitoshi Mogi, the creator of the show Dino Girl Gauko, and writer-director Elizabeth Ito, who is behind the series City of Ghosts.

Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s vice president of original animation, will moderate this session, which is scheduled for Wednesday, June 12, at 4:00pm in the Europe room of the Impérial Palace.

Works In Progress

“Flee” by Jonas Poher Rasmussen

Annecy will present works-in-progress of upcoming features, television series and specials, and extended reality (xr) projects. This year the lineup includes highly anticipated works from Makoto Shinkai, Rémi Chayé, and Genndy Tartakovsky, among others.

Here is the full list of works in progress. See the program guide for specific time for each:

  • Vanille by Guillaume Lorin – France, Switzerland (tv)
  • Josep by Aurel – France, Belgium, Spain (film)
  • Do, Re & Mi by Fabien Ouvrard – USA, France, India (tv)
  • Dislocation by Milivoj and Veljko Popovic – Croatia, France (xr)
  • Klaus by Sergio Pablos – Spain, USA (film)
  • Calamity, a Childhood of Martha Jane Cannary by Rémi Chayé – France, Denmark (film)
  • Brazen by Phuong Mai Nguyen and Charlotte Cambon de Lavalette – France (tv)
  • Primal by Genndy Tartakovsky – USA (tv)
  • Scoob! by Tony Cervone – USA (film)
  • Even Mice Belong in Heaven by Denisa Grimmová and Jan Bubenicek – Czech Republic, France, Poland, Slovakia (film)
  • Eden by Yasuhiro Irie – Japan, Taiwan, China, USA, U.K. (tv)
  • Mirror by Pierre Zandrowicz – France, Belgium (xr)
  • Weathering With You by Makoto Shinkai – Japan (film)
  • Flee by Jonas Poher Rasmussen – Denmark, France, Sweden, Norway (film)
VR Dome
VR Dome.

For the first time, Annecy introduces a new area of the festival — the VR Dome — that runs all week long and offers the opportunity to experience 20 different immersive vr projects. The projects that will be featured include works from Baobab Studios, Arte, Warner Bros., WeVR, and Digital Domain, as well as Playmobil Ready Player Dance, a Playmobil: The Movie VR Adventure, a tie-in with the upcoming feature from On Animation Studios.

Annecy Classics: Preserve then Show
"Les Hommes Machines" by  René Laloux will be one of the classic shorts presented at the Annecy Classics screening.
“Les Hommes Machines” by René Laloux will be one of the classic shorts presented at the Annecy Classics screening.

France’s CNC (National Centre for Cinema and the Moving Image), which conserves over 130,000 film titles, will highlight rare animated films from its collection. The screening will offer both long-lost or never-before-seen works such as The Machine Men (René Laloux, 1978) and Don Quixote’s Memoirs (Robert Lapoujade, 1978-80), as well as restored classics that include The Chimney Thief (Paul Grimault, 1944), Sleeping Beauty (Alexandre Alexeieff, 1935), Minotaur’s Ball (Lorenzo Recio, 1998), and other rare foreign films.

The screening takes place on Friday, June 14, at 2:30pm in the Bonlieu Petit Salle.

(Pictured at top, l to r: “Steven Universe,” “Klaus,” “Weathering With You”)

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