A Report From Annecy 2018

This year's edition of the Annecy Animation Film Festival took place from June 11th to the 16th. Being the biggest festival of its kind in the world it was able to garner even more attendance by raising the number of badge holders by a whopping 17% to 11 700 people. Visitors and ticket buyers aren't even included in this number. This means that the beautiful alpine town of Annecy in France is overrun each year by an international crowd of animation maniacs, flooding the streets with the signature badges worn around the neck and colorful bags.

If you haven't been there yet I highly recommend you should go. The atmosphere is great and seldom do you get to see so much great animation on the big screen. Especially the US screenings are always a great show and celebrated by the crowd.  Each year there is a  so-called territory focusing on the animation production of a specific country and this year's guest was Brazil.

With such a vast program to choose from ranging from movies with features in and out of competition, TV-Productions, graduation shorts and various other special screenings each year feels like you're attending a different festival. For 2018 I chose to focus more on features as I have been intently watching the entire territory focus last year which centered on China. I will write a short report about Annecy 2017 and the things I discovered there in a later post.

The feature films in competition this year were marked by a sort of grim realism that I haven't seen before in animation. That is very interesting considering that I am just in the process of writing a series of blog articles about the art movements of the late 19th century in which Realism played a great part. I am going to write about the films in the order I watched them.

Tito And The Birds

Starting the festival off with a Brazilian feature Tito e os pássaros, as it is called in Portuguese, is the story about a boy whose father is trying to communicate with birds in order to find out how to save the world from the fear which has become a plague-like disease spreading across the world and infecting societies turning people into stones. Animated in 2D this movie features a grim yet colorful art style. I thought the characters were well developed and very relatable. Even if it isn't as openly political as the other features in competition its implications about fear and its grip on the societies of the world are directly relatable. It mastered the balancing act between telling a story of adventure and staying relevant with a general message about our times.

Another Day Of Life

Another Day Of Life is based on the book by the legendary Polish journalist Ryszard Kapuscinski and his experiences in Angola in 1975 thrown into a chaotic civil war after its declaration of independence. Kapuscinski decides to travel to the southern front in search of a ominous Portuguese general supporting the communist guerrillas in their effort to preserve Angola's independence and freedom from the looming invasion of South Africa's apartheid regime backed by the CIA. The film is a documentary mixing real film of interviews with the eyewitnesses in the present with animated flashbacks. The style of animation art directed by Rafal Wojtunik makes use of 3D rendered to give a 2D line and color output. I found the look very appealing and suiting the violent action and dreamlike sequences.

The Breadwinner

The Breadwinner is another highly awaited feature film coming out of Ireland's Cartoon Saloon studios. Directed by Norah Twomey and produced by Hollywood celebrity Angelina Jolie this film is based on the novel by the same name by Deborah Ellis. The story follows Parvana and her mother and siblings whose father gets arrested by the Taliban. Unable to provide for their family in a society that prohibits women to go out into the streets on their own, they have to come up with a solution in order to survive. Cartoon Saloon has made its name with two amazing features before and they hone their craft with this one even more. Narration as a way to speak truth about our lives is at the core of this movie. While the plot unfolds an Afghan story about a boy's hero journey is told as a parallel. The simple yet highly appealing, immersing and empathetic style of animation is delightful but still manages to address serious issues of violence and switches to a dark mood when appropriate and needed.

Cinderella the Cat

Cinderella the Cat, or Gatta Cenerentola by its original Italian name, is a re-telling of the famous fairy-tale by four Neapolitan directors. The original story was first published in Naples, Italy in 1636 and it finds its way back to this infamous city with this film. Set in a fictitious futuristic Naples on-board a fantastic cruise ship Cinderella the Cat mixes up Camorra, crime, violence and crushed visions in a morbid but enthralling cocktail. Cinderella is a young girl whose father a rich entrepreneur wanting to do the best for his city Naples is murdered by an uprising crook taking possessions of all his belongings by enchanting the magnate's wife. An undercover police inspector once responsible for the security of the girl wants to enforce justice by thwarting the swindler's plot.
Like Another Of Day Of Life this movie uses 3D animation techniques as its basis but renders it in 2d line style making a little bit more use realistic lighting techniques than the former. Still the overall look of the artwork is very appealing and suiting for this dark and at times cynical movie. Unlike the others its subject is not directly political but the story certainly alludes to the decay of a city that has become unmanageable with its organized crime, corrupt officials and hopeless perspectives for the inhabitants.


Funan tells the story of a young mother and her family in Cambodia trying to survive the work camps of the Khmer Rouge.  Director Denis Do tells the story of his family who fled Cambodia and emigrated to France. The style of the animation created by art director Michael Crouzat is very delicate, simple and realistic. It focuses a lot on little moments of intimacy and acts of affection between the protagonists. Violence is never shown overtly explicit but rather hinted at, leaving an emotional impact on the audience. What does it mean when your life goes from living a normal daily course to the extreme situation of a death camp, where your family members perish almost silently one-by-one of exhaustion and illness?
The film and its director and crew received a well-deserved standing ovation after the screening in the Grande Salle.

Feature Film Out Of Competition: The Last Fiction

Finally I would like to mention The Last Fiction by Iranian director Ashkan Rahgozar.  The film has been a long running project and was first pitched at Annecy's animation market in 2010. It was sold out within seconds after the booking system opened but I was able to get a hold of one of the last fifteen tickets being sold at the booth. Set in Iran based on its mythical Book Of The Kings the film tells the story of the people of an ancient city in Iran's northern mountains who rise against their  unjust ruler aided by demoniacal powers. Finished with the help of over 100 animators this movie also features an exciting soundtrack with traditional Iranian music. The 2D style of animation is of high production value and tells the story in a gripping fashion. This movie was the last that I have seen at this year's festival in 2018 and it finished the series of features with their realistic, dark and grim visions.

Of course there was a lot more to see and experience at this year's festival and I only highlighted some of the movies. I can only highly recommend going to the Annecy Animation Film Festival, the town is very welcoming and the festival has an astonishing wide range within its program.

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