You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Toon talent flourishes at Annecy

Talent forum, film school screenings among big draws

ANNECY, France — Scouts in the toon biz have known for years that the shores of the turquoise-hued Lake Annecy are one of the best places to unearth new animation talent.

And last week, during the French city’s 30th Intl Animation Festival attended by special guest Tim Burton, studio suits were again eagerly checking out the latest crop of dreadlocked art students hoping to break in to the biz.

On the main festival front, Annecy’s selection of five competition features held no great surprises — with Europics “Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit,” “Asterix and the Vikings,” and “Renaissance” competing with the Asian offerings, “xxxHOLIC: A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “Origin — Spirits of the Past.”

Artistic director Serge Bromberg scored kudos for his out-of-competition lineup. Program included the world preem of “Monster House,” Sony’s first foray into 3D animation, and “Cars,” which Annecy attendees were able to see several hours ahead of U.S. audiences.

For the Hollywood contingent, the new talent forum, and a packed program of film school screenings were clearly the big draw.

“Annecy is the one festival in the world where you can identify animation talents. It’s No. 1,” says Dreamworks’ European rep Shelly Page, an Annecy habitue attending this year with colleagues John Tarnoff, in charge of show development; Kristoff Serrand, animation senior on “Over the Hedge”; and Cassidy Curtis, senior animator on “Madagascar.”

Some 50% of DreamWorks Los Angeles based animators are non-Americans, and another handful of foreign newcomers joined the team after meetings at last year’s fest, Page says.

The many companies hiring for specific projects this year included France’s Attitude Studios, which begins work this week on Focus Features’ first 3D animation pic “9,” and Folimages, another Gallic company, a quarter of its way through “Mia and the Migou,” helmer/producer Jacques Remy Girerd’s follow-up to “Raining Cats and Frogs.”

“I’ve met more people here in one day than I do in Paris in six months,” said screenwriter/director Pascal Stervinou.

Under the same roof — of Annecy’s lakeside Imperial Hotel — films and TV shows changed hands and production deals were mulled within the framework of the main MIFA animation mart.

This being animation, the crowd sipping cocktails on the terrace all looked to be 25 at the oldest — and dressed distinctly scruffier than the folk usually encountered at industry marts.

Organizers estimated participants at around 5,000-6,000 attendees for the fest and mart combined, with a 40% increase in exhibiting companies to some 150.

“We’ve made efforts to make the market more attractive to participants,” asserts managing director Michael Marin. “And the animation sector is also in better shape than it was two or three years ago.”

New MIFA initiatives included a buyer-friendly digital videotheque along the lines of rival mart MIPCOM Jr.’s.

More Film

  • Richard E. Grant, Bo Burnham Clean

    Richard E. Grant, 'Roma' Among Early Winners at 2019 Indie Spirit Awards

    Richard E. Grant, Bo Burnham and “Roma” were among the early winners at the 2019 Film Independent Spirit Awards, held Saturday on the beach in Santa Monica, Ca. Grant took the best supporting male prize for his role in “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”, about celebrity forger Lee Israel, edging out stiff competition in Adam [...]

  • 2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners List

    2019 Indie Spirit Awards Winners: Complete List (Updating Live)

    The 2019 InAdd Polldependent Spirit Awards are taking place on a beach in Santa Monica, Calif., with “We the Animals” topping nominations with five. “Eighth Grade,” “First Reformed,” and “You Were Never Really Here” are up for four each. The Spirit Awards are chosen by the Film Independent’s 6200 members after an anonymous committee votes on [...]

  • Oscars Oscar Academy Awards Placeholder

    Hated It! How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Gripe About the Oscars

    Watching the Academy Awards telecast, then grousing about it the next day, has become a hipster parlor game — it’s what the Complete Oscar Experience now is. The complaints are legion, and we all know what they are, because we’ve all made them. The show was too long. The host bombed. His or her opening [...]

  • Boots Riley arrives at the 34th

    Boots Riley: Spike Lee Yelled at Me After 'BlacKkKlansman' Criticism, But We're Good Now

    “Sorry to Bother You” director and musician Boots Riley, who wrote a scathing criticism of Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman” for its positive representation of law enforcement, said that he and the “Do the Right Thing” auteur are good now. But it took some time (and drama) to get there. Last year, Riley called Lee’s Oscar-nominated “BlacKkKlansman” [...]

  • Dr. Donald Shirley (Mahershala Ali, right)

    Read Variety's 1957 Review of 'Green Book' Pianist Don Shirley

    “Green Book” viewers who are not totally versed in the ways of ’50s and ’60s jazz may come away from the heavily Oscar-nominated movie wondering just how well known and respected the film’s central musical figure, Don Shirley (played by Mahershala Ali), really was in his heyday. The answer: revered enough to have picked up [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Steven Spielberg Remembers 'Friend and Early Mentor' Stanley Donen

    As news of the death of prolific director Stanley Donen spread Saturday, the industry was quick to remember the helmer of so many classic musicals. Donen directed such hits as “Singin’ in the Rain,” co-directed with and starring Gene Kelly; “Funny Face” with Audrey Hepburn; and “Charade,” with Hepburn and Cary Grant. “Stanley Donen was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content