Annecy Festival is spending its sixtieth birthday online. This year’s edition, initially conceived as a special anniversary extravaganza, is going virtual, like so many other events. The organizers announced the change “with tremendous disappointment,” but an upside is that anyone with a stable internet connection and 15 euros (USD$16.70) to spare can watch the whole program of the world’s biggest animation festival.
The festival runs June 15–30, and an e-pass gives access to the entire official selection of films, works in progress, masterclasses, making-ofs, previews, and more. A badge for the accompanying Mifa market, which features pitches, b2b meetings, and the like, costs 110 euros.
Some events that were planned for the real-life festival appear to have been cancelled — there’s no sign of Wes Anderson — but the virtual offering is still substantial. To help you navigate it, we’ve picked out six highlights from the festival program. For information on buying a pass, click here.
1. A conversation between Henry Selick and Bruno Coulais
Selick, stop-motion filmmaker extraordinaire (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline), is joined by Coulais, the composer on Coraline and Selick’s forthcoming Wendell and Wild. Currently in production for Netflix, Wendell and Wild is a stop-motion feature starring two demon brothers (voiced by Keegan Michael Key and Jordan Peele). Selick and Coulais will discuss their collaborations and the role of music in Selick’s filmography.
Other masterclass highlights: Dean DeBlois, Ron Clements and John Musker. See the full line-up here.
2. Work in progress: Masaaki Yuasa’s Inu-Oh
Announced last year, Inu-Oh is a musical anime feature about a medieval Japanese playwright. The wacky plotline isn’t the only selling point: Yuasa himself has built up quite a fanbase with exuberant works like Mind Game, Ride Your Wave, and the Netflix series Devilman Crybaby. His latest film is in production at Science Saru, the studio from which he recently retired as president.
Other feature WIP highlights: Le Sommet des dieux, New Gods: Nezha Reborn. See the full line-up here.
3. Work in progress: Baobab Studios’s Baba Yaga
Baobab (Bonfire, Crow: The Legend), one of the most consistently interesting producers of virtual and augmented reality, will present their latest immersive experience. The concept: you team up with your sister to save your mother by acquiring a cure from the enigmatic witch Baba Yaga. Creators and executives from the studio will tune in for a live Q&A.
Other non-feature WIP highlights: The Cuphead Show!, The Hangman at Home. See the full line-up here.
4. The making of Chicken Run
Twenty years after its release, Aardman’s avian clay-animation epic is getting the retrospective treatment at Annecy. Directors Nick Park and Peter Lord will discuss the production of the English studio’s first feature — and first foray into Hollywood (the film was made in partnership with Dreamworks). It’s a timely event, as a sequel is currently in development.
Other making-of highlights: Frozen 2, Animal Crackers. See the full line-up here.
5. The Legend of Hei
As Chinese animation grows, so does Annecy’s coverage of it. A highlight from this year’s feature competition is this, a spin-off from a hugely popular Flash web series about a young girl and her supernatural cat. The film topped its country’s box office. Here’s a chance to find out what the fuss is about.
There are too many stellar shorts to count in this year’s competition. We want to spotlight one of its most high-profile premieres. The latest film from renegade master Andreas Hykade recounts his childhood infatuation with the Virgin Mary, and subsequent crisis of faith.
Other shorts highlights: Carne, Something to Remember. Explore the film programs here. Note: this year sees the launch of a new Youtube Award, which will give 10,000 euros (USD$11,250) to the creator of a graduation film in competition.