Another year, another Annecy animation festival in France — and with that, another round of the usual gripes about the size of the festival. It’s a familiar litany: The festival has too many events happening at once; even with a pass, it’s hard to score tickets to popular talks and films; venues are too crowded and it’s hard to find friends.

All of this is true – coming home, I ran into at least four people at the Geneva airport that I hadn’t seen at the festival all week. At an event with 12,300 badgeholders — a record number, beating the previous year’s record of 11,700 — it’s to be expected that you won’t see everyone you’d hoped to see.

The growth of Annecy is part of a bigger trend though – the global expansion of animation. The medium is booming in nearly every part of the world – more broadcasters and streaming services want animation than ever before, more companies are producing animation than ever before, and more artists are joining the community than ever before. Annecy, like other animation organizations (including media sources like Cartoon Brew), is experiencing growing pains as it tries to fully represent this unprecedented boom in our medium.

Annecy obviously recognizes this and has been working on launching a second Annecy-branded festival in South Korea that will target the Asian animation sector. (We also hear rumors of an ambitious expansion of its MIFA market in the coming years.) Some argue that the Asian festival is not a good solution as it will split the audience, and make Annecy itself less special. But similar arguments were made in the late 1990s when Annecy switched from being held once every two years to an annual event. Who would be crazy enough to attend an animation festival every year, some wondered at the time. Would there even be enough quality content to fill up a yearly festival? Twenty years later, those questions seem quaint, as even a yearly edition is no longer enough to fully contain animation’s expansion.

Personally, I had a wonderful time this year, and enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and making new ones from all over the world. Sure, perhaps Annecy is a bit stifling at the moment, but it’s a small price to pay to see the art form thriving as never before. Some of us have been waiting for a very long time for this exact thing to happen.

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