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‘Despicable Me 3,’ Pixar’s ‘Coco,’ ‘The Big Bad Fox’ to Bow at France’s 2017 Annecy Animation Festival

Embraced by Hollywood, the world’s most important animation festival announces its 2017 lineup

Illumination’s “Despicable Me 3,” China, Disney-Pixar’s “Coco” and “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales” look set to figure among highlights at June’s 2017 edition of France’s thriving Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival, a Mecca for animation companies and creatives from Hollywood and the world over.

In one sign of still-continued growth at Annecy, its International Animation Film Market (MIFA) will add an extra day, moving from three to four. Attendance at MIFA has grown year-on-year for the past decade, rating the film and TV market, which rolls off the dynamism of the international animation scene, as one of the fastest growing industry events in Europe.

Announced by the Annecy Festival as a world premiere, “Despicable Me 3” continues Chris Meledandri’s close relationship with the French festival which has hosted the bows of the first two parts of the franchise and “Minions” – to increasingly gargantuan worldwide box office.

Director Lee Unkrich and producer Darla K. Anderson, who previously teamed on “Toy Story 3,” will present, along with co-director Adrian Molina, footage from “Coco,” while director Dave Mullins and producer Dana Murray unveil Pixar short “Lou.” The French premiere of “Cars 3” also takes place at Annecy.

Guillermo del Toro will host Annecy’s inaugural Mifa Campus. Keynotes take in Kristine Belson, president of Sony Pictures Animation, Eric Coleman, VP at Disney Television Animation, and vet Disney director-animator Glen Keane. Japan’s Go Nagai will present “Mazinger Z,” a new animated feature from the Manga series.

Among other Hollywood studio titles, Event Screenings take in DreamWorks Animation’s “Captain Underpants,” with director David Soren in tow. Nickelodeon’s Chris Savino and Joe Murray will led a y¡talk entitled From “Rocko’s Modern Life” To “The Loud House.” Cartoon Network will for the first time take a stand at the MIFA market.

In a recognition of the large impact of OTT platforms on the kids and family animation business, producer Kelli Bixler and creator Drew Hodges will talk up the pre-school “Tumble Leaf.” At Annecy’s Work in Progress. Jorge R. Gutierrez, director of “The Book of Life,” which grossed $100 million worldwide. will introduce extracts from his latest toon feature, which now has a title – “Kung Fu Space Punch” – and is again produced by Reel FX Animation Studios, as part of a longterm deal between Gutierrez and Reel FX.

Annecy opens this year with the much-anticipated French-Belgian title “Zombillenium,” a comedic horror movie set in a Halloween theme park adapted by Arthur Pins and Alexis Ducord from Pins’ own raved-about comic book series. That forms just part, however, of one of the most substantial presences of French animation in recent years, with Studiocanal, Folivari, ON Animation Studios. Les Armateurs and Ankama all at Annecy with new titles.

One of Europe animation drivers, Studiocanal is distributing and selling two titles to screen at Annecy: the awaited three-part farmyard-set “The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales,” produced by Didier Brunner’s Folivari, co-directed by Benjamin Renner, one of the directors on the Academy Award nominated “Ernest & Celestine”; and “Petit Vampire,” from Joann Sfar (“Gainsbourg”), produced by Autochenille, which Sfar will present as a work in progress.

Also creating expectation is “Tall Tales: The Magical Garden of Antoon Krings,” the latest animated feature from French animation leader ON Animation Studios (“The Little Prince,” “Playmobil) headed by Aton Soumache and Dimitri Rassam.

A classic French animation company, Les Armateurs will present in WIP TV “Un Homme est mort,” set to air on TV Network Arte France. Co-produced with Japan’s Studio 4ºC (“The Animatrix,” Mind Game”), “Mutafukaz,” another French bow, marks a flagship title from Ankama, the Gallic gaming-comic-book company best known its “Wakfu” and “Dofus” series. French comicbook artist Guillaume Renard, (aka Run), helms with Japan’s Shoujirou Nishimi, both planning to attend Annecy.

This year’s Annecy Fest belongs to China, however, the subject of  a major multi-part retrospective and exhibition as Sarft leads the biggest-ever Chinese delegation to Annecy’s Mifa market and Chinese companies, once peripheral players on the animation scene, are now boarding animated features as a major co-producer or paying good-to-top dollar for rights to China.

There will be large curiosity to see the progress made by Chris Appelhans on “Wish Dragon,” which is fully-funded by Chris Bremble’s Beijing-based VFX house Base FX. China Film Group co-produces one Annecy competition title, “Animal Crackers.” Another Chinese animated feature and competition contender, Jain Liu’s stylish hitman movie, hits Annecy after a buoyant reception in Berlinale competition this year.

Annecy’s Works in Progress section, an Annecy industry centerpiece, features “The Breadwinner,” from Nora Twomey, a co-director on the Oscar nominated “The Secret of Kells,” produced by Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, and exec produced by Angelina Jolie, as well as TV series “Ella, Oscar & Hoo,” created by Oscar-winning Michael Dudok de Wit.

One U.S. title, Blue Dream Studios’ “Animal Crackers,” directed by Scott Christian Sava and Tony Bancroft, plays in Annecy Competition. Further competition titles include “Loving Vincent,” a fully-painted animated bio from Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman; and British animated feature “Ethel & Ernest,” from Roger Mainwood, based on the latest Raymond Briggs story, here about his parents, voiced by Jim Broadbent and Brenda Blethyn. “Ethel & Ernest” is produced by Lupus Films and Cloth Cat Animation in the U.K. and Luxembourg’s Melusine Productions.

Another Annecy competition title, Naoko Yamada’s “My Silent Voice,” turns about a man who sets out to atone for bullying other students when a child. It has been appreciated on foreign release for its full-blown sentiment. Also from Japan are “Lu Over the Wall,” turning on a middle-school student who meets a mermaid, that marks the first animated film based on an original story from Masaaki Yuasa (“Ping Pong”); and “In This Corner of the World,” from Japan’’s Sunao Katabuchi (“Mai Mai Miracle”), released last November in Japan,

Just selected for Cannes Critics’ week, Ali Soozandeh’s “Tehran Taboo” delivers a politically trenchant look at contemporary Tehran life. Also making the Annecy competition cut, “Big Fish & Begoña” is a Chinese fantasy film directed by Liang Xuan and Zhang Chun.

The Annecy Intl. Animation Film Festival runs June 12-17.

OFFICIAL COMPETITION

“Animal crackers,” (Tony Bancroft, Scott Christian Sava, Jaime Maestro, U.S.)

“A Silent Voice,” (Naoko Yamada, Japan)

“Big Fish & Begonia,” (Xuan Liang, Chun Zhang, China)

“Ethel and Ernest,” (Roger Mainwood, U.K., Luxembourg)

“In This Corner of the World,” (Sunao Katabuchi, Japan)

“Loving Vincent,” (Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman, Poland, U.K.)

“Lu Over the Wall,” (Masaaki Yuasa, Japan)

“Tehran Taboo,” (Ali Soozandeh, Germany)

“Zombillenium,” (Arthur de Pins, Alexis Ducord, Belgium, France)

OUT OF COMPETITION

“1917 – The Real October,” (Katrin Rothe, Germany)

“Ana y Bruno,” (Carlos Carrera, Mexico)

“Ancien and the Magic Tablet,” (Kenji Kamiyama, Japan)

“Deep,” (Julio Soto, Spain)

“I’ll Just Live in Bando,” (Yong Sun Lee, South Korea)

“In the Forest of Huckybucky,” (Rasmus A. Sivertsen, Norway)

“Little Heroes,” (Juan Pablo Buscarini, Venezuela)

“Lost in the Moonlight,” (Hyun-joo Kim, South Korea)

“Richard the Stork,” (Reza Memari, Toby Genkel, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway)

“Rudolph the Black Cat,” (Kunihiko Yuyama, Motonori Sakakibara, Japan

“Tad, the Lost Explorer, and the Secret of King Midas,” (Enrique Gato Borregán, David Alonso, Spain)

“Tea Pets,” (Gary Wang, China)

“The Man Who Knew 75 Languages,” (Anne Magnussen, Pawel Debski, Norway)

Emilio Mayorga contributed to this article

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