The Annecy Animation Festival is the most spectacular event on the European animation calendar. David Jefferson went along for Animator magazine.
The biannual animation festival had outgrown its Bonlieu Centre location and in 1991 was split in two. The artistic side remained at the Bonlieu and the business side was a bus ride away at the Imperial Palace Hotel. Some animators had the unenviable task of combining film appreciation with business and were frequent commuters between the two venues.
The films in the festival were of a very high standard, both in quality and originality. The winner of the Grand Prix Annecy 91 for the best animated film was The Grey Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood by Russian animator Garry Bardin. This film won several other prizes including one based on the audience vote.
Garry’s wolf is even more ravenous than the one in Charles Perrault’s story. He also sings; to an air of “Mack the Knife”; and so does Grandma, to “La vie en rose”. The wolf follows Little Red Riding Hood to Paris and on the way they meet a host of characters straight out of Soviet and American cartoons.
The film reflects the changing attitudes in the East. “If I had made the film ten years ago Red Riding Hood would have denied the fact that she has a grandmother in France,” observed Garry. “Now she can say it frankly and she can even go and visit her.”
There is an interesting sociological aspect in this film: the toothless wolf goes to the dentist, the dentist makes him false teeth and then the wolf eats him. “It is the fate of intelligentsia. We always help the wrong people,” declares Garry.
When asked if he was surprised by the cheering and clapping at the screening of his film Garry replied: “I am happy to see the film through the eyes of the French and to see their reaction. The difference between the Western audience and the Russian audience is the Russian enjoys the humour in the dialogue much more. Generally speaking the first part of the film is better received by the Russians and the second part is better received by Western people.”
The film has many references to Western songs and the presentation of the songs is very Western. “I tried to make an international film,” said Garry. “Sometimes I look at the film without the sound to see if the sequence would work for people who do not speak Russian.”
On a question of how the film was received by Russian audiences Garry responded: “Our situation for the moment loses stability and gains in conflict and drama so it is better to laugh about it than to weep. You always survive if you laugh.”
Uncles and Aunts, by Dutch animator Paul Driessen, was awarded the prize for the Best TV Series (episode lasting less than 13-minutes). It is a series of photo album snapshots of the lives and times of uncles, aunts and otherwise related persons.
“I would like other animators to do their vision of their past, or whatever they want, in this kind of photo album,” said Paul. “If I tell them how it works then someone else could do the same kind of thing anywhere in the world. I tried it out with a friend who is a Czech animator and she did a wonderful job. She is a good designer and she has a bizarre sense of humour.”
Paul likes to animate these films because he can fit them between other projects: “I write down funny ideas as they occur to me, which might be on the beach or anywhere. I make a list and then pick out the ones I think would fit together. Then I make the layouts and animate them.”
Another film entered in the TV series section was Paul Demeyer’s The Goose Girl. It was made as a result of a competition run by a company who wanted to make films which were of a higher standard than the mass produced TV cartoons. The idea came during a symposium at the Bristol Animation Festival in 1987. The company, Rag Doll Productions, tried to find the money to create twelve shorts which were based on traditional fairy tales and they persuaded Kellogg’s to put money into the project. Kellogg’s wanted to make it into a competition, and they received about sixty entries of scripts and storyboards. From which they chose thirteen they sponsored for production.
“The main reason I made this film is I have been working on commercials for the past nine years and I wanted to make a proper film,” explained Paul. This was a good opportunity to get some finance and make a film that from A to Z was my creation. I took a year off my normal work to do the film. It is good because it has brought me back into entertainment type work.”
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