Annecy toon fest reveals its serious side

Competition selects more adult animation

PARIS — The 52nd Annecy Animated Film Festival unveiled a competition lineup heavy in toon dramedies, reflecting the trend towards adult-skewed animation, on Tuesday evening.

Keiichi Sato’s “Asura,” Ignacio Ferreras’ “Wrinkles” and “Couleur de peau: Miel,” helmed by Laurent Boileau and Jung, all address serious issues including illness, abandonment, natural catastrophe and adoption.

Set in the 15th century, “Asura,” which mixes 2D and 3D, turns on a child who was born in Kyoto’s wasteland and abandoned by his parents. It’s produced by Toei Animation. Meanwhile, 2D feature “Wrinkes,” produced by Spain’s Perro Verde Films, is a dramedy turning on two older men who bond at a care home.

“Miel” is a hybrid live-action/animation pic about a young Korean man, adopted by a French family, who visits his homeland as an adult. It’s produced by Belgium’s Artemis Prods. and Gaul’s Mosaique Films.

The competition also includes “Hoshi o ou kodomo” from Japan’s Makoto Shinkai; “The Painting,” from Gaul’s Jean-Francois Laguionie (recently picked up by GKids for U.S. distrib); French B.O. sleeper hit “Zarafa” from Remi Bezancon and Jean-Christophe Lie; and “Crulic — The Path to Beyond” from Romania’s Anca Damian.

There are two stereo 3D toons on the slate: “Tad, the Lost Explorer,” from Spain’s Enrique Gato, and “Ronal the Barbarian,” from Denmark’s Thorbjorn Christoffersen, Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen and Philip Einstein Lipski.

Annecy artistic director Serge Bromberg said 2,455 films were submitted — 500 more than in 2011.

“The overall quality of the films was significantly higher than in previous years but we’re seeing a pervading gloominess in the themes that reflects current times,” he added.

Illustrating that fact, fest will open June 4 with Patrice Leconte’s “The Suicide Shop.”

Annecy will also feature Eric Darnell’s “Madagascar 3,” which will world preem at Cannes, Chris Renaud’s “The Lorax” and Director’s Fortnight-preeming “Ernest and Celestine,” from Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner.

The most anticipated work-in-progress titles are Genndy Tartakovsky’s “Hotel Transylvania,” Raul Garcia’s “Extraordinary Tales” and “Foosball,” from Juan Jose Campanella.

The out-of-competition lineup will feature Argentina’s “Anima Buenos Aires,” India’s “Delhi Safari,” German-French co-production “Moon Man,” Japan’s “A Letter to Momo” and South Africa’s “Zambezia,” among others.

Other highlights will include a “making-of” session on Chris Meledandri’s “The Lorax,” created by Illumination Mac Guff’s Paris-based animation studio.

Annecy will draw a spotlight on Ireland with a screening of “Brendan and the Secret of Kells” and “When the Wind Blows,” among other events.

MIFA, the film market that runs alongside the fest, has attracted 2,300 professionals and 450 exhibitors with more participants coming from beyond Europe, per Annecy fest managing director Tiziana Loschi.

This year the market will bow the Networking Lounge and a Meeting Corner where professionals without booths will be able to reserve tables and meet potential production or distribution partners and financiers.

Fest takes place June 4-9, MIFA runs June 6-8.

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