Annecy Animation Festival 1989

For one week at the end of May the beautiful lakeside resort of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie region of France was taken over by a hoard of animators, animation enthusiasts and salesmen for the biennial animation festival. Report by David Jefferson.

This was my third visit to the festival and each time it gets bigger. On my first visit the Film Market was a new innovation and many were nervous of commercialism rearing its head. Now the market has grown so big it had to be housed in large tents across the road from the main festival building. Of course everyone realises that making money is an important ingredient for the survival of an animation industry. Perhaps moving the salesmen across the road was a symbolic gesture as well as a practical solution to giving them more space to display their goodies and run animated TV series on their video screens.

This year the competition films had been divided into ‘commercial’ films and ‘author’ films. This resulted in more films to see, or maybe more films to miss because the commercial’ films were shown in a small theatre at an unpopular time. Then there were the feature films, the retrospectives and the previews. All-in-all one could watch animated films from breakfast time till well after midnight, not only in the three main cinemas of the Bonlieu Centre but also at six other cinemas around the town!

Sketches from The Hill Farm by Mark Baker of Great Britain.

The British film “The Hill Farm” by Mark Baker won the Grand Prix and three other prizes. This laid-back film is full of magic moments and brilliant observations of human and animal nature, such as the chickens who are constantly eating; the tourist with a movie camera who passes out with shock when the farmer’s wife breaks the neck of a chicken he has just filmed; and the hunter who shoots everything in sight, including his two assistants.

A British film also won the prize for best commercial. Lurpak “Hang Glider” by Peter Lord of Aardman Animations shows supreme control of the medium of 3D animation with a butter man (actually made of wax) flying over a dinner table on a hang glider.

Two other British films won prizes:
“Grand National” by Susan Loughlin received the Fipresci award. Drawn on paper with brush and ink it captured the atmosphere of a race day with great freedom and liveliness.

“Stille Nacht” by the Brothers Quay won the prize for best trailer/commercial or interlude.
Other prize winners I particularly enjoyed were “25 Ways to Quit Smoking” by Bill Plympton (USA) which had the audience in stitches. Most of the methods were extremely painful but very funny. Bill has never smoked himself but wanted to make a film about an obsession.

“Technological Threat” by Bill Kroyer (USA) is a mixture of computer and drawn animation. It is man verses robots in an office full of workers. If anyone slacks the boss replaces them with a robot. Man wins in the end by trickery. The computer animation was blended with the cel animation by tracing it onto cel by hand.

“Pencil Dance” by Chris Casady (USA) had white images on a black background flowing around the screen in time to the music. It was poetry in motion.

The festival was very crowded and there were the inevitable complaints: the main shows were overbooked so even people with passes had to arrive early to be guaranteed a seat; the price of a message box was too high for young animators, particularly students (without a box there was little chance of being invited to special events); insufficient attention was given to the needs of the actual animators, and too much emphasis placed on commercialism. Perhaps the festival organisers should ask themselves if the price of success is becoming too high?

The best aspect of the festival for me was the series of excellent seminars, particularly the one dealing with computer animation in the new Disney feature “Oliver and Company”. I am planning a report on this for the next Issue.

The Prizes

Grand Prize:
The Hill Farm by Mark Baker (Great Britain)
Special Mention:
The Public Voice by Lejf Marcussen (Denmark)
Special Distinction:
All Alone With Nature by Alexandre Fedoulov (USSR)
Special Distinction awarded to a 3D computer animation film:
The Topology Man by Marc Caro.
Prize for short film:
Abovo by Ferenc Cako (Hungary)
Jury’s special prize:
The Walls by Piotr Dumala (Poland)
Exciting Love Story by Borijov
Dovnikovic (Yugoslavia)
Prize for first film:
Pencil Dance by Chris Casady (USA)
Prize for feature film:
Alice by Jan Svankmajer (Czechoslovakia)
Prize for commissioned film:
The Quitter by Paul Fierlinger (USA)
Prize for best commercial:
Lurpak “Hang Glider” by Peter Lord (Great Britain)
Prize for best credits, or trailer, or interlude, or animated sequence:
Stille Nacht by the Brothers Quay (Great Britain)
Prize for TV series (episodes up to 13 mm.):
Alex No 3 by Laurence Arcadias (France)
Prize for TV series (episodes over 13 mins.):
Meet the Raisins by Barry Bruce (USA)
Other prizes
Audience prize:
25 Ways to Quit Smoking by Bill Plympton (USA)
Post Office prize:
Sculptures by Jean Loup Felicioli
Canal + prize:
Charlotte, Flea et Benjamin by Claude Combast (Savec)
Special ASIFA prize for services to animation:
Feodor Kitrouk
Apollo prize:
Technological Threat by Bill Kroyer (USA)
Prize from the audio-visual department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest:
The Hill Farm by Mark Baker (Great Britain)
Youth and Sports prize:
The Hill Farm by Mark Baker (Great Britain)
Fipresci prize:
Pictures From Memory by Nedellko Dragic (Yugoslavia)
Grand National by Susan Loughlin (Great Britain)

Printed in Animator Issue 25 (Summer 1989)