Ale Abreu’s The Boy and the World won the top awards at the 38th Annecy International Animation Film Festival that concluded Sunday in France. Considered the Cannes of the Animation Industry the two awards bestowed upon the Brazilian toon only underlines the strength of that country’s animation industry. This is the second year in a row that Brazil has achieved this distinction, following last year’s feature Cristal winner Uma história de amor e fúria (Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury).
In its 38 years of history, the International Animation Film Festival that takes place in this pinturesque French city near the Swiss border, has became a destination for the animation world to get together. A venue that in the eyes of the animation industry is similar to what Cannes is for serious dramas or Comic Con for superhero movies. Proof of the success is this year’s increase in attendance to over 7,100 participants from 73 countries.
It’s a virtual who's who of international animation professionals, from key independent artists like American Bill Plympton, winner of the Jury Award with his latest film Cheating, to big studios like Pixar or DreamWorks. This year Pixar chose Annecy as the place to preview the opening sequence of Inside Out, the long awaited new movie from Pete Docter, director of Monsters Inc. and Up. The movie, which takes place inside the mind of a 10 year-old girl, opens July 2015.
The same day, Disney orchestrated the world premiere of its new short Feast, sure to be a contender in the Oscar animated short film category, and showed first glimpses of Big Hero 6. Meanwhile Laika had the work in progress presentation of Boxtrolls, Sony revealed some images from the next Smurf movie and Aardman’s Shaun the Sheep was also present. A great day for animation fans that flocked to the small town by the lake from all over the world, transforming Annecy in the biggest animation sound board and reinvigorating an industry that is not only for kids.
Outside of the big studios, Plympton was not the only independent and revered artist at hand. Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar-nominated French director of The Illusionist and The Triplets of Belleville shared his plans for his new movie The Thousand Miles. The movie, a mix of live-action and hand drawn animation, is inspired by unpublished writings and drawings by Federico Fellini.
There can’t be a serious animation forum without the presence of a Japanese production and this year on opening night the Festival premiered The Tale of Princess Kaguya. Its director, Isao Takahata, also a Studio Ghibli co-founder, was awarded the Annecy Honorary Award.
The large presence of professionals and fans was completed at the MIFA (Annecy’s International Animation Film Market) that this year was up a 3% in attendance. India, China, Taiwan, Chile, Brazil and Colombia where some of the new countries in attendance in this market totaling 1100 companies represented at the MIFA and looking forward to distribute the next blockbuster.
In recent years, independent cartoons that have premiered here have gone on to Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. Movies like Kirikou, The Triplets of Belleville, The Cat in Paris, Ernest and Celestine, Chico & Rita or Wrinkles have proven that among the big Hollywood giants of animation there is room for other movies and Annecy is the best starting point.