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Annecy Animated Film Fest 2015

The annual pilgrimage to The French Alps of almost the entire animation industry –makers, students, curators and animation lovers– is over. From June 15th to June 20th, the International Animation Film Festival of Annecy took place. Annecy connects the MIFA (the market for studios, sellers and buyers) with pitches, making of’s, and work-in-progress presentations of animated shorts, TV series, and features of all sorts.

By Erik van Drunen

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Alas, only two Dutch films in the international competitions this year: Splintertime by Rosto (Studio Rosto, A.D (NL), Autour de Minuit (FR) & S.O.I.L. (BE) and Pepe Luu by Valérie Chang (AKV/St. Joost Academy) in the Graduation Films Competition. 
And FYI, a Chang’s new Pepe Luu short is currently in production at sister company Submarine.

It is always an art to prevent your personal diary from exploding, because there is too much to see and attend. How then to pick but five favorites? Premiers and retrospectives, it all comes together in Annecy – which is why there is not only new stuff on my list. My visit lasted only four days, and I missed the legendary Dutch party, which would have definitely been the summit of my five picks.

 

1. Long Way North

A standing ovation as long as the credits rolled for Rémi Chayé’s directorial debut. The Long Way North (original title: Tout en Haut Du Monde) received the Audience Award at its premier screening. Well deserved! A family film set in Soviet 1982, where we literally embark on a journey with the young aristocrat Sacha who tries to save her family’s honor. A very entertaining film in which the Arctic becomes a character in itself – depicted in beautifully designed vast landscapes. Painterly and in vivid colors we experience the elements; snow, wind and cold. A French-Danish coproduction produced by Paris based Sacrebleu Productions with high expectations at box offices worldwide.

 

2. Eden’s Edge

Eden's Edge by Directed by: Gerhard TREML and Leo CALICE

Distributed by SixPack Film, Eden’s Edge is a film by American-Austrian artist Gerhard Treml is a completely different experience. Out of competition, but the still images seduced me to attend the screening. It’s a story told in nine episodes – each episode consisting of one single bird’s eye view at a person’s personal habitat. The occupant tells his or her personal story pottering around. Sobriety is directive and only little movements like softly moving laundry on the clothes line catch our attention for minutes. The self-imposed objective of an office called O.N.L.S.D. P.S. Note the abbreviation!

 

3. Stacey Steers, Between Dreams and Brilliance

In this year’s focus on Women and Animation, a retrospective of the animated works of American artist Stacey Steers. Not trained as animator or filmmaker she uses different techniques as collage, xerography, mixed media and found footage to create dreamlike and sometimes eerie films that brings the work of Larry Jordan in memory. Festival director Marcel Jean calls her ‘the best kept secret in the animation world,’ althought her work has screened at festivals like Sundance, Telluride and in MOMA New York. No strong storylines but enchantingly beautiful imagery and imagination that takes you on a voyage into the unknown.

 

4. Fly Mill

This is what’s good about retrospectives. In the middle of the overload of competitions of the new, thematically curated programming Annecy offers you the chance to catch up with missed gems or to relive them and see them in a new perspective. Eight or more short films in a compilation program is not an exception at festivals. And sometimes these compilations make for a bumpy ride, however beautiful its separate ingredients may be. This prize-winning graduation film, made at the Estonian Academy of Arts is such a film. It premiered in 2012 and won a lot of awards, but this was my chance to see it on the silver screen as part of the program The Future is Woman. Explaining this beautiful film by Anu-Laura Tuttelberg in words does it no justice.

 

5. We Can’t Live without Cosmos

A very easy pick. Grand Prize for Shorts of the prestigious festival is awarded again to Konstantin Bronzit. Two cosmonaut friends try to do their best while training to make their shared dream come true. According to Bronzit, this film only got selected by a few international festivals in comparison with his previous films. We Can’t Live Without Cosmos may not raise a loud laugh, its humor is much more subtle and seems to carry a hidden message about love and friendship, wherever we are and live… It was also awarded the Junior Jury Award for a Short Film. What a joy!

The complete list of the awards

 

Top 5 by Erik van Drunen. Erik works as a curator for animation and film programs, nationally and internationally. He is interested in the crossovers between several media and techniques and in the possibilities for the future of the field.

 

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