Strong anime push at Annecy festival

'House,' 'Colorful,' 'Dog' to compete at fest

Confirming a strong 12 months for Asian anime, South Korea’s “Green Days” and “The House” and Japan’s “Colorful” and “Tibetan Dog” will compete at June’s Annecy Animation Festival.

The 51st edition of the European event will also honor the U.S. with a guest country panorama, fest director Serge Bromberg announced Thursday in Paris.

Five European toon pics make the nine-title competition cut.

Annecy’s Asian competition entries largely target youth auds. “Green Days,” from Han Hye-jin and An Jae-hoon, is a nostalgic, pencil-drawn/CGI look back at teenage years; “Colorful,” from Japan’s Keiichi Hara (“Summer Days With Coo”), is about a ninth grader’s life and death. Masayuki Kojima’s “Tibetan Dog,” from veteran anime studio Madhouse, weighs in as a Tibet-set coming of age story; fantasy drama “House,” from five directors, is the latest from the Korea Academy of Fine Arts.

Otherwise, Annecy’s competition belongs to Europe with Denmark’s Esben Toft Jacobsen’s “The Great Bear,” the latest production from Copenhagen Bombay, duking it out with Latin jazz scene romancer “Chico and Rita,” which opened Cartoon Movie, and “A Cat in Paris,” from French toon studio Folimage (“Mia and the Migoo”).

Also competing are Gaumont-Alphanim’s B.O. hit “Santa’s Apprentice,” a Weinstein Co. U.S. pickup, and Joann Sfar and Antoine Delesvaux’s “The Rabbi’s Cat.”

China’s “Legend of Butlar,” Spain’s “The Apostle,” Brit toon pic “Goodbye Mister Christie” and Japan’s “Midori-ko” play out of competition. Fest runs June 6-11.

“This is a strong year for Asian cinema at Annecy,” said fest director Serge Bromberg.

Presenting the Annecy line up Thursday evening in Paris, Bromberg noted it was “a possibility but not a certainty” a U.S. title could be added out of competition.

The U.S. panorama will include sneak peeks at titles.

Accreditations at Annecy’s MIFA Intl. Market of Animation Film, which takes place June 8-10, are currently running 20% up on 2010, with Chinese and Japanese numbers looking especially to increase, said MIFA managing director Mickael Marin. Toronto will send an industry delegation for the first time, he added.

Toei Animation’s “Albator – Space Pirate,” EuropaCorp’s “The Boy With the Cuckoo-Clock Heart” and Aardman/Sony Pics.’ “Arthur Christmas” screen in Work in Progress.

A spinoff of the 1980’s hit animated series, “Space Pirate” is a higher-bracket sci-fi/action toon set in the future and turning on a mysterious army officer-turned-pirate who combats dark forces threatening Earth.

Meanwhile, the 19th-century-set “Heart,” based on the 2007 bestseller written by French rock singer Mathias Malzieu, tells the tale of a young man whose frozen heart was replaced at birth with a cuckoo-clock.

Finally, “Arthur Christmas,” a 3D animated pic featuring James McAvoy’s voice, centers on Arthur, the son of Santa, who helps save Christmas. Pic bows Fall.

“With over 70 countries represented by Annecy attendees, through the Mifa Creative Focus and Works in Progress, producers are finding partners in distribution and co-production to take their productions to the next level,” said Annecy fest managing director Tiziana Loschi.

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