New artistic topper Marcel Jean adds elements

PARIS — Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival is about to get a makeover under the helm of new artistic topper Canadian toon producer/author Marcel Jean.

Taking over from Serge Bromberg, who stepped down after a 14-year run, Jean said future editions of the fest will be more event-driven.

“We’re going to engage participants in diverse events and meetings throughout the festival,” said Jean. “Nowadays, a festival can’t limit its role to showing films — with the multiplication of platforms and festivals around the world, people see films everywhere.”

Jean is set to introduce a sidebar called Animation Off-Limit, which will spotlight “four short films that transgress the boundaries of classic animation,” said Jean. Shorts will mix unusual techniques and stem from a wide range of sources, including scientists, explained Jean, pointing to a video he’s seen featuring an off-the-hook science experiment on a squid listening to hip hop.

Fest will also roll out a contest of the funniest animated short film ever to be voted on by Annecy’s participants. The fest’s selection committee has pre-selected 40 shorts and Annecy auds will pick the 10 finalists and the winning title.

Jean said he’s already started developing new initiatives for the 2014 and 2015 editions. “We’ll screen short films that have been made for and by the festival, and even some made during the festival — the idea is to have a workshop or residence where artists can create collective works.”

Another novelty: A Crystal nod for career achievement will be awarded every year to a heavyweight toon bizzer.

After honoring Ireland this year, fest will pay tribute to Poland next, which is “along with Estonia, a major animation hub in Eastern Europe,” said Jean.

So far this year, the festival has received about 1,200 feature-length toons and 100 shorts. Jean is overseeing the selection process, which is being carried out by three animation vets and long-time Annecy fest employees.

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