Mind Game Mind Game

Former Annecy Cristal winner Masaaki Yuasa (Lu Over the Wall) will return to the French event this year as Annecy’s Mifa Campus Patron.

The honorary title sees Yuasa join the likes of previous patrons including Guillermo del Toro, Richard Williams, Nora Twomey, and Marguerite Abouet. More than a simple recognition, the role Campus Patron comes with responsibilities, and on June 17 Yuasa will host an hour-long masterclass. He will also present a special screening of his latest feature Inu-Oh, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival last September.

“The Annecy Festival public can’t wait to see this highly anticipated screening event of [Inu-Oh] celebrating the freedom of art,” reads a statement from the festival. “It marks his reunion with Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet, Sunny) as a character creator, a few years after their successful collaboration on the series Ping Pong: The Animation, adapted from the famous manga work.”

About Yuasa:

  • He was born in Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture in 1965.
  • Yuasa studied at the Kyushu Sangyo University where he graduated with a degree in fine arts, focusing on oil painting.
  • Early in his career he worked on classic series Chibi Maruko-chan and Crayon Shin-chan.
  • He co-founded the Japanese animation studio Science Saru with producer Eunyoung Choi in 2013.
  • His feature debut came in 2004 with Mind Game. The film won several international awards including best film, director, and script at Montreal’s Fantasia Int’l Film Festival.
  • In addition to his short and feature work, he has numerous tv credits on popular shows including Devilman: Crybaby, Adventure Time, and Japan Sinks: 2020, among many others.
  • His 2019 feature Ride Your Wave also played in Annecy’s main competition.
  • Well known for his original creations, he is also adept at adapting other media to the screen as he did with the popular manga Ping Pong.

Earlier this week, Annecy also announced that Walt Disney Animation Studios boss Jennifer Lee and French writer, designer, storyboard artist, and director Michel Ocelot will be recognized with Honorary Cristals at this year’s festival.

“The return of the Annecy Festival to its pre-pandemic state is the reason behind awarding two Honorary Cristals, one each to two exceptional personalities who have marked the recent history of animation film, on both sides of the Atlantic,” said festival artistic director Marcel Jean in the announcement.

Nine years ago, Lee became the first woman to helm a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature when she co-wrote and co-directed Frozen. The film eventually won the Oscar for best animated feature and commercially it remains one of Disney’s most successful properties. In June 2018, she took the reins at Walt Disney Animation Studios’ chief creative officer.

Ocelot has enjoyed a long and prolific career as a filmmaker. He is perhaps best known for creating the character Kirikou and directing the 1998 feature Kirikou and the Sorceress, which Jean credits as giving “the impetus needed to launch the animation feature film industry in France.” The film won best animated feature at Annecy the following year and confirming Ocelot as a key figure in European animation. He has since directed numerous other features, most recently Dilili in Paris (2018).