You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Annecy Animation Film Festival Spotlights Rising Asian Toon Powers

Films from China, South Korea, and Philippines showcase region's new diversity

Over the years, Japan has been considered the powerhouse of Asian animation. The island nation continues to hold that lead, but it was shut out of the competition the Annecy Intl. Animated Film Festival. Instead, the lineup showcases the new players that have risen to prominence throughout East Asia and the new diversity of Asian animation.

In competition, South Korean helmer Yeon Sang-ho’s “Seoul Station” is a zombie apocalyptic thriller and a prequel to his live-action debut “Train to Busan,” which recently screened in Cannes. Like his previous features, “Seoul” deals with human nature and absurdities in modern society.

Yeon also produced the festival’s out-of-competition Korean entry, “Kai.” Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the Lee Sung-gang indie film is the antithesis of “Seoul Station,” a mass-appeal adventure with warm, bright colors.
While South Korea is Japan’s strongest competition for regional dominance, China’s “Monkey King: Hero is Back” and the Philippines’ “Manang Biring” also represent rising players in Asian animation. Both films are showing out of competition.

While China’s film industry has been booming, its animation industry was a late bloomer. At first, only a few franchises like “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” saw box office success. That is, until “Monkey King: Hero Is Back,” which embodies the gradual sophistication of Chinese animation.

Inspired by the Chinese classic “Journey to the West,” the 3D animated adventure was a sensation in China last year and encouraged the country’s animation industry. Southeast Asian countries have long served as subcontractors for products of China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Produced with rotoscoping, “Manang Biring” is a rare animated film produced in the Philippines and the first animated feature from the country to screen at Annecy. The adult-oriented comedy, about a terminally ill old woman looking to reunite with her estranged daughter, won best picture at the Philippines’ Cinema One Originals Film Festival.

Japan is making its presence felt with two non-competition titles. Produced by major Japanese animation house Shirogumi, “Gamba” is a 3D adaptation of a popular children’s book about a town mouse who bands his friends together to liberate an island ruled by an evil clan of weasels. More down-to-earth is “Anthem of the Heart,” a schoolyard romance with light magical elements from the creators of the hugely popular “Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day” series.

Pictured: Korean zombie apocalypse thriller “Seoul Station” is among the films at Annecy showcasing Asian animation beyond Japan. 

More Film

  • Black Panther

    'Black Panther,' 'Crazy Rich Asians,' 'Westworld' Among Costume Designers Guild Winners

    “Crazy Rich Asians,” “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” walked away with top honors at the 21st annual Costume Designers Guild Awards Tuesday night, the final industry guild show before the Oscars on Feb. 24. “The Favourite” and “Black Panther” are up for the Oscar this year, along with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” “Mary Poppins [...]

  • WGA Writers Contract Talks

    Talent Agents, WGA Achieve Progress in Second Round of Talks

    Hollywood talent agents and the Writers Guild of America have achieved some progress at their second negotiating session over agency regulations, according to sources close to the talks. The two sides met Tuesday, two weeks after their first meeting resulted in both sides criticizing each other, followed by the WGA holding a trio of spirited [...]

  • Aaron Paul

    Film News Roundup: Aaron Paul Honored by Sun Valley Film Festival

    In today’s film news roundup, Aaron Paul is honored, Bruce Berman is re-upped at Village Roadshow, and Paola Mendoza and Abby Sher get a book deal. FESTIVAL HONORS The Sun Valley Film Festival has selected Idaho native and three-time Emmy winner Aaron Paul as the winner of its Pioneer Award, presented by Variety for his [...]

  • Olivia Munn]EMILY'S List Pre-Oscars Brunch, Inside,

    Olivia Munn Says Brett Ratner Called Her Before His 'Howard Stern' Apology

    Olivia Munn is setting the record straight about standing up to “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, whom she alleges sexually harassed her over a decade ago. During a panel discussion at the Emily’s List pre-Oscars brunch at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills Tuesday morning, Munn revealed that Ratner called her in 2011 after he denied [...]

  • Flesh Out review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Flesh Out'

    Ignore the awful English-language title: “Flesh Out” is an emotionally rich, sensitively made film about a young woman in Mauritania forced to gain weight in order to conform to traditional concepts of well-rounded beauty before her impending marriage. Strikingly registering the sensations of a protagonist living between the dutiful traditions of her class and the [...]

  • Marighella review

    Berlin Film Review: 'Marighella'

    Does Brazil need a film that openly advocates armed confrontation against its far-right government? That’s the first question that needs to be asked when discussing “Marighella,” actor Wagner Moura’s directorial debut focused on the final year in the life of left-wing insurrectionist Carlos Marighella during Brazil’s ruthless military dictatorship. For whatever one might think of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content