Jean replaces Bromberg at helm

ANNECY Two socially-conscious mixed-media features – Anca Damian’s “Crulic – The Path to Beyond” and Laurent Boileau and Jung Henin’s “Approved For Adoption” – shared top honors Saturday at the 2012 Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival.

Loic Magneron’s Wide Management reps international sales on both “Approved” and “Crulic.”

A Locarno competition player and fest favorite, “Crulic,” an animated documentary, won Annecy’s best feature Crystal.

Meshing watercolors, drawings, cutouts, photos and final news footage, “Crulic” narrates the true story of Claudio Crulic, who died after a hunger strike in a Polish jail.

“Approved” scooped Annecy’s Audience Award and Unicef Award. The autobiographical story of Korean-Belgian comic book artist Jung’s adoption aged five by a Belgian family in 1971, melds animation – used for memories – and live action for Jung’s first visit to Seoul, plus news and even home-movie footage.

Directed by Spain’s Ignacio Ferreras, 2D senior citizen buddy movie “Wrinkles,” a GKids U.S. pick-up, won a special mention.

Underscoring one rich source of creative inspiration in cutting-edge animation worldwide, multiple other Annecy highlights – new Disney short “Paperman,” warmly applauded at Annecy’s opening gala; competition player “Asura,” a rare social-issue child’s redemption tale from Toei Animation: “Deep,” the next movie from “9′s” Shane Acker – featured films that married artistic or technical options.

In further key plaudits, an Annecy Crystal best short award and Fipresci prize went to Michaela Pavlatova’s fantasy comedy “Tram,” from top French toon shingle Sacrebleu Productions.

Franck Dion’s “Edmond Was A Donkey,” about a ridiculed office worker, nabbed Annecy’s short film Special Jury Award. Fest’s first short kudo went to Florian Piento’s moving crowd gag, “The People Who Never Stop.”

Further fest U.S. highlights included director Chris Miller and scribe Tom Wheeler talking through the creation of “Puss in Boots” at a family animation screenwriting seminar, and a Work in Progress presentation by Genndy Tartakovsky and Bob Osher of Sony Pictures Animation’s monster castle hotel comedy “Hotel Transylvania” which has retained much of Tartakovsky’s hallmark energetic graphic style.

The world’s biggest animation meet, Annecy also confirmed that animation is no longer the preserve of the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Participants at Annecy’s three-day Mifa film-TV mart came from 63 countries, 18 territories up on just last year, reported Mifa managing director Mickael Marin.

Total Mifa attendance, 4% above 2011 at 2,485 participants, was the best ever, he added.

Annecy’s out-of-competition strand featured South Africa’s first international festival-standard movie “Zambezia” and Uruguay’s first-ever toon feature, “Selkirk, el verdadero Robinson Crusoe.” Two more Uruguayan toon pics are now in the works, said “Selkirk” producer Esteban Schroeder.

Having built up the Annecy Fest, artistic director Serge Bromberg confirmed Saturday that he is stepping down after a 14-year run to focus on production at his Paris shingle, Lorber Films. Bromberg, whose company restored Georges Melies’ “Trip to the Moon,” told Variety he’s currently developing two projects and is undertaking a large-scale restoration. Canadian toon producer-director Marcel Jean will replace him.

Fest ran June 4-9.

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this report

Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival 2012 winners:

FEATURE FILMS

ANNECY CRYSTAL AWARD

“Crulic – The Path to Beyond,” (Anca Damian, Romania)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Wrinkles,” (Ignacio Ferreras, Spain)

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Approved For Adoption,” (Laurent Boileau, Jung Henin, France, Belgium, South Korea, Switzerland)

TV PRODUCTION

ANNECY CRYSTAL

“Secret Mountain Fort Awesome – ‘Nightmare Sauce’,” (Pete Browngardt, U.S.)

SPECIAL AWARD, TV SERIES

“Stella and Sam” – “Trip To the Moon” (Dave Merritt, Ray Jafelice, Canada)

TV SPECIAL

“The Gruffalo’s Child,” (Johannes Weiland, Uwe Heidschotter, U.K., Germany)

SHORT FILMS

ANNECY CRYSTAL

“Tram,” (Michaela Pavlatova, France)

SPECIAL JURY AWARD

“Edmond Was a Donkey,” (Franck Dion, France, Canada)

FIRST FILM

“The People Who Never Stop,” (Florian Piento, France, Japan)

SPECIAL MENTION

“Seven Minutes in the Warsaw Ghetto,” (Johan Oettinger, Denmark)

AUDIENCE AWARD

“Second Hand,” (Isaac King, Canada)

JUNIOR AWARD

“Story of Him,” (Pascual Perez, Spain)

GRADUATION FILMS

BEST GRADUATION FILM

“The Making of Longbird,” (Will Anderson, U.K.)

OTHER PRIZES

UNICEF AWARD

“Approved For Adoption”

FIPRESCI AWARD

“Tram”

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