While the greatest animated films on the circuit play at Annecy Online, a parallel event is showcasing the works that will fill future editions of the festival. At MIFA, the market counterpart to Annecy, filmmakers have been presenting 10-minute online pitches of works they’re currently developing.
Naturally, we’ve been watching. Read on to discover the five projects — features and shorts alike — that we found most interesting. We’ll report on pitches for non-film projects in the coming days.
A rat toils in servitude in an earthbound dystopia, until the day she’s accidentally beamed up into a heavenly realm of rabbits … which harbors a dark secret. This satirical family feature takes aim at all kinds of social problems, from proletarian drudgery to genetic engineering; the synopsis felt a bit overstuffed.
But there’s no questioning the artistic credentials behind this Latin American co-production: Argentine director Juan Pablo Zaramella (Luminaris, The Tiniest Man in the World) and Chilean production company Zumbastico Studios (Paper Port) are behind some of the most innovative stop-motion projects on the continent. Zaramella describes his approach to Coda as “a kind of UPA style, but translated into stop motion,” with minimal post-production.
Running time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Producer: Zumbastico Studios
Status: Looking for development funding
Murder, drugs, femmes fatales, cigarette smoke — Eugène has all the trappings of the film noir genre to which it pays homage. But there’s a twist: its protagonist is a transgender man, and this secret forms the crux of the drama. Eugène is a historical figure who lived in Sydney in the 1920s, and his life story formed the subject of the Annecy-winning tv mini-series The Man-Woman Case.
Its creators Anaïs Caura and Joëlle Oosterlinck reunite here, as the film’s director and writer respectively. The teaser shown in the pitch suggests that Caura, in her feature directorial debut, has a firm grasp of noir visual language. The design is mostly monochrome, with bursts of watercolor hues; the animation mixes traditional 2d with rotoscoping. The project is shaping up as an entertaining, innovative genre offering.
Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Producer: My Fantasy
Status: Looking for distributors, sales partners, broadcasters, co-producers
El Leila El Kebeira (The Grand Night)
“Walt Disney was a genius storyteller,” said producer Ahmed Hamouda in his presentation, “but so was my grandfather. And as a child I wondered, ‘How come I never get to watch his stories onscreen?’” Therein lies the core pitch of this project, which presents a family fantasy adventure in the context of Egyptian society and folklore.
Afraid of being mocked, ten-year-old Leila conceals her passion for puppetry, but when alone she delves into her rich imagination. Some of the design riffs on hieroglyphs, and the story follows the contours of a well-known Egyptian puppet show, but Cairo’s Giraffics studio is taking care to give its first feature a universal appeal. We don’t see many animated films from North Africa — let’s hope this one makes it to release.
Running time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Status: Looking for co-producers, distributors
27 — My Last Day at Home
A 27-year-old woman, condemned by the housing crisis to living with her parents, finds an outlet for her frustrations by masturbating, clubbing, and taking acid. Hungarian director Flóra Anna Buda wryly notes that the film is based on her own life; the film’s claustrophobic world also resonates, perhaps inadvertently, with the experience of lockdown.
That world is rendered in painterly tableaux, the murky browns and burgundies of the urban nightlife contrasting with the bright palettes of the woman’s sexual fantasies. The film is strong on design, which won’t surprise anyone who’s seen Buda’s graduate film Entropia.
Running time: 15 minutes
Status: Looking for financial and broadcasting partners
Soleil gris (Grey Sun)
The second short from French filmmaker Camille Monnier is about “adolescence and the end of the world,” no less. Two young female cousins guard a deserted motel in the baking heat, until a natural disaster causes them to flee.
Inspired by the wildfires in California and Australia, Monnier takes a tragicomic view of environmental apocalypse, while deftly drawing an analogy with the upheavals of teenagehood — an end of a world, in another sense. The concept artwork we saw showed a striking approach to lighting: the two women, angry and afraid, are colored gray, and their surroundings are bleach-white — until the fire hits.
Running time: 12 minutes
Status: Looking for co-producers, broadcasters, residencies