France’s annual Annecy International Animation Film Festival and its accompanying market MIFA will be a much different affair this year as a digital-only event. But despite the COVID-19 disruption, attendees will have ample time for viewings and networking due to the fest running 10 days longer than usual from June 15 to 30.
The festival and market, which broke attendance records last year, could potentially attract even more attention this year given the skyrocketing global demand for toons, and the sector’s ability to thrive in lockdown during the ongoing pandemic.
In anticipation of this year’s event, here’s a breakdown of five Annecy sessions to look out for:
1. Women in Animation Virtual Summit
Always a top draw at Annecy, Women in Animation’s one-day summit this year will include a pair of panels that address the ongoing global call for social justice and what’s in store for the animation industry as it shifts to focus on racism and solidarity. The nonprofit’s president Marge Dean said in a statement that WIA chose to change its original Annecy program to address issues of work, race and solidarity after the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. “We are using this global platform to give women of color the opportunity to talk about their experiences and how they see that the animation industry needs to change in order to be fully diverse, inclusive and humane,” Dean said.
The Summit’s first panel, Black Women in Animation: Looking to the Future, will feature writer Jade Branion; Nickelodeon Animation Studio’s VP of animation recruitment and talent development Camille Eden; Netflix screenwriter Misan Sagay; and Sony Pictures Animation’s EVP of creative Karen Rupert Toliver (pictured left to right).
The WIA Summit runs on annecy.org on June 17, and will be available for festival and MIFA badge holders to view for the rest of the festival. The program will also be available to WIA members, and more widely at a later date.
2. Baobab Studios’ VR experience Baba Yaga
As part of Annecy’s Work in Progress track, California virtual reality company and multiple Emmy Award-winning studio Baobab is serving up a first look at its latest immersive experience, Baba Yaga. During its presentation, key members of the studio’s team, including co-founders Maureen Fan, Eric Darnell and Larry Cutler, will provide insights into the company’s past projects, such as Asteroids! and Kidscreen Award-winning Crow: The Legend, along with a sneak peek at Baba Yaga. Directed by Darnell and co-directed by Mathias Chelebourg, Baba Yaga is a modern take on the Eastern European legend, with animation inspired by 2D pop-up animation and hand-drawn and stop-motion styles. The presentation will run from June 15 for accredited festival viewers until June 30.
3. Henry Selick, Bruno Coulais masterclass
Legendary stop-motion director Henry Selick (Coraline, James and the Giant Peach) and Oscar-nominated French composer Bruno Coulais (Coraline, The Chorus) will participate in a masterclass that will be viewable for the duration of Annecy that explores the role of music in Selick’s films, including Coraline and Netflix’s forthcoming kids and family feature Wendell & Wild. Starring Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key, the movie tracks a pair of conniving demons who enlist a teenage girl to help them escape the underworld.
4. The making of Frozen 2
The House of Mouse is providing a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of its hit sequel Frozen 2 in its new documentary series Into the Unknown: Making Frozen 2. The movie’s filmmakers, including Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee and director Chris Buck, will share stories and insights into how both the sequel and the doc series were made. Episode one will be available on the Annecy site from June 26 to 28 and the full series will drop on Disney+ on June 26.
5. The making of a show with Nickelodeon artists
Nickelodeon Animation Studios’ storyboard artist Diem Doan, background designer Angie Durand and color supervisor Shane Richardson will take part in a MIFA Campus presentation entitled From Sketch to Screen on June 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Topics will include the pre-production process, how to break down a single animated scene, and the skills required to make each episode in a current series.