French and Japanese animation left little room for anyone else, outside of Vincent Van Gogh, on the roll call of award-winning features at this year’s Annecy Animation Festival. Par for the course, the top honors at the festival highlighted strong films and filmmakers, though at least one of the fest’s most talked-about features left empty-handed.
Taking home Annecy’s top Cristal award for a feature was Japanese 2D movie “Lu Over the Wall.” Masaaki Yuasa’s was something of a surprise given the film’s relative low profile in Annecy compared to some other competition contenders. Animated feature turns on a middle-school student who meets a mermaid. It marks the first animated film based on an original story from Yuasa (“Ping Pong”).
The Jury Award for a feature film went to another Japanese film, “In This Corner of the World,” directed by Sunao Katabuchi. In her review of the film, Variety’s Maggie Lee described the film as “a wistfully nostalgic time capsule of civilian life under the catastrophic tide of war.”
An Audience Award win for “Loving Vincent” comes after the film played to a 10-minute standing ovation at its world premiere in Annecy. Sold by Cinema Management Group, “Loving Vincent” has already been licensed to over 90 countries, and counting.
Not for the first time at Annecy, a number of the most-talked about features of the week weren’t in competition. Folivari and Studiocanal’s production, “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” screened to a capacity crowd filled with delighted children who laughed and cheered through the presentation. Ankama’s “Mutafukaz,” played to a slightly older, but equally entertained, young adult crowd.
Also making waves was Netflix’s “Blame,” which was released on the VOD service last month.
“Animal Crackers,” a singular U.S.-Spain-China production which did screen in competition, sparked a lot of upbeat plaudits from Variety, but went away empty-handed.
While official guest-country China came up empty in terms of awards, look for that to change in the coming years: “For me, the main takeaway from Annecy – and indeed the theme of the year – is that China has arrived,” said David Michel, at Paris-based Cottonwood Media.
Among the awards granted to short films there was a greater degree of geographic diversity which spoke more accurately to the depth and diversity of the short formats on display at the festival.
The Cristal for best animated short went to “The Burden,” which has sparked buzz since its Cannes Directors’ Fortnight bow. An existential musical, set on a lonely planet of humans with animal heads, the Swedish short, from Niki Lindroth von Bahr, came across as Terry Gilliam meets Ingmar Bergman as its surreal hybrid beings sang about the difficulty of relationships, or dehumanizing pressures of office life, as song and dance routine performed by an office of monkeys.
British series “Revolting Rhymes Part One,” took top honors in animation for TV. Based on the beloved children’s stories of Roald Dahl and produced by Magic Light Pictures, the series relies on stunning 3D visuals and top-notch voice acting to deliver the updated fairy tales.
Short film Jury Award winner “Wicked Girl” is an illustrated journey through the memories of a bedridden little girl which starts innocent enough, but slowly turns more sinister. The animation is sketchy with colorful tracings on paper left mostly white.
The Jean-Luc Xiberras award winner for first film in the short category went to “The Blissful Accidental Death,” uses a mix of drawing and paper-folding to create a world that is sometimes 2D and sometimes 3D in which a man listens to the stories of a woman who has lived through fantastic events.
This year’s Annecy was frantic, with an energy that was undeniable to anyone in attendance. This edition was also the biggest yet, surpassing 10,000 accredited participants.
WINNERS OF 2017 ANNECY ANIMATION FESTIVAL, OFFICIAL AWARDS
CRISTAL FOR A FEATURE FILM
“Lu Over the Wall,” (Masaaki Yuasa, Japan)
“Loving Vincent;” (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Pologne, Royaume-Uni, Poland, United Kingdom)
“In This Corner of the World,” (Sunao Katabuchi, Japan)
“Grandpa Walrus,” (Lucrèce Andreae, France)
“The Ogre,” (Laurène Braibant, France)
JEAN-LUC XIBERRAS AWARD FOR A FIRST FILM
“The Blissful Accidental Death,” (Sergiu Negulici, Romania)
“Wicked Girl,” (Ayce Kartal, Turkey)
CRISTAL FOR A SHORT FILM
“The Burden,” (Niki Lindroth Von Bahr, Sweden)
TV AND COMMISSIONED FILMS
“Moby “Are You Lost in the World Like Me?,” (Steve Cutts, United Kingdom)
CRISTAL FOR A COMMISSIONED FILM
“Material World,” (Anna Ginsburg, United Kingdom)
TV SERIES & SPECIALS
JURY AWARD FOR A TV SERIES
“The Man-Woman Case,” Episode: “Wanted,” (Anaïs Caura, France)
SPECIAL DISTINCTION FOR A TV SERIES
“BoJack Horseman,” Episode: “Fish Out Of Water,” (Mike Hollingsworth, United States)
CRISTAL FOR A TV PRODUCTION
“Revolting Rhymes Part One,” (Jakob Schuh, Jan Lachauer, Bin-han To,United Kingdom)
“Pas à pas,” (Charline Arnoux, Mylène Gapp, Léa Rubinstayn, Florian Heilig, Mélissa Roux, France)
“Summer’s Puke is Winter’s Delight,” (Sawako Kabuki, Japan)
CRISTAL FOR A GRADUATION FILM
“Sog,” ( Jonatan Schwenk, Germany)
“Dix puissance moins quarante-trois seconde,” (France)
John Hopewell, Emilio Mayorga and Lorena Jaramillo contributed to this article