France’s 2020 Annecy festival and accompanying Mifa market won’t be the first such events to go completely online this year, but certainly stand out as one of Europe’s largest to do so. The prestigious animation gathering, which normally draws toon heavyhitters from all over the world, will stream June 15-30.
While platforms and broadcasters fight over available content, with kids and family one of the tentpoles of subscriber retention, the market for animation has never been more demanding — both in quality and audience expectation.
One big challenge in making the transition to online is the inability to stream many of the key titles from Annecy’s Official and Contrechamp competitions in their entirety due to licensing rights and other contractual conditions.
However, several studios and key sales agents have confirmed to Variety that they are planning alternative means of promoting their upcoming content while still entertaining eager Annecy badge-holders.
The festival says it has reached out to producers, asking that they provide a minimum 10-minute excerpt or produce a short documentary presentation.
Netflix has already confirmed a works-in-progress presentation for its upcoming “The Cuphead Show!” and a look back at cult movie “Animal Crackers,” a 2017 Annecy competition player picked up by the platform.
This year’s section with the largest U.S. footprint is the TV shorts competition, where already broadcast episodes compete against one-offs from around the world. Cartoon Network has episodes from four U.S.-produced series in competition as well as Turner Broadcasting Systems Europe’s series “Taffy,” which the network previewed at last year’s Cartoon Network special presentation. Netflix has two of its own productions in competition with “Love, Death & Robots” and “The Midnight Gospel,” while Amazon Prime Video’s “Undone” rounds out U.S. offerings.
One benefit to an entirely online event is accessibility of panels and masterclasses, as well as more screening opportunities. Annecy’s short film competition is one of the festival’s main draws. In recent years, average length of submissions has increased, meaning fewer films could be screened. Such restrictions don’t apply to audiences watching from home, so the selection committee was able to include more films in its slate.
General festival admission at runs €15 ($16.40) and includes access to the official selection, work in progress, masterclasses, making of and preview sections as well as a few surprises.
Mifa accreditation, exclusively reserved for industry professionals, includes all the festival admission benefits as well as granting access to adapted versions of popular industry sections: Mifa Pitches, Industry, Mifa Campus and Mifa Special Events, as well as the popular Meet The and Share With networking sessions. Both the Industry and Pitching sections will host specific territory focuses — this year they are Latin America, Southeast Asia, Japan, Canada, Russia and Africa.
Key titles for sale at Annecy’s market:
Directors: Ben Stassen, Jérémie Degruson
Sequel to 2018’s “Son of Bigfoot,” which grossed $50 million-plus worldwide.
Director: Rémi Chayé
From the “Long Way North” director, an imagined origin story of Calamity Jane.
Sales: Indie Sales
“Jungle Beat: The Movie”
Director: Brent Dawes
Mauritius-born 3D feature from Sandcastle Studios and Sunrise Prods. will also unspool as an Annecy offical selection.
Sales: Timeless Films
“Kill It and Leave This Town”
Director: Mariusz Willczynski
B&W look at director’s own dystopian nightmare, a critical hit at its Berlinale premiere.
“Len and the Song of the Whales”
Directors: Manuel Alejandro Victoria, Joan Manuel Millán Torres
A standout at Ventana Sur’s 2016 Animation! forum
Director: Joann Sfar
The high-profile French auteur (“Gainsbourg”) directs this 2D feature following a young vampire who sneaks out for the night.
“Lupin III: The First”
Director: Takashi Yamazaki
International thief Arsène Lupin III gets a 3D big screen reboot in this main competition title.
Sales: All Rights Entertainment
“Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds”
Director: Benoît Chieu
Written by Oscar-nominated Alain Gagnol (“A Cat in Paris”), earned buzz at Cartoon Movie.
“Summit of the Gods”
Director: Patrick Imbert
Everest-scaling adventure co-produced by France’s legendary Didier Brunner.
Sales: Wild Bunch