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The Annecy Intl. Animation Festival is returning to a full-fledged in-person event in 2022, expecting more than 10,000 attendees, from more than 90 countries June 13-18.

“The world’s animation community will be back in Annecy — the key meeting place for the industry and artists,” says fest director Mickaël Marin, beaming.

The Annecy team has striven to maintain connections and momentum within the animation community during the pandemic, through the 2020 online edition and 2021 hybrid fest, complemented by yearround masterclasses, professional meetings, seminars and dedicated trips, including recent trips to Nigeria, Israel and Brazil.

The fest also collaborates with events such as Ventana Sur in Argentina and the Animation Day in Cannes.

Annecy’s 2022 lineup includes feature films and series produced in France, such as the opening film, “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” made at Illumination MacGuff for Illumination/ Universal; “Arcane,” made by Fortiche for Netflix/Riot Games; and “Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai,” made by Blue Spirit for Warners.

“Annecy has become the key meeting place for the international industry,” says Blue Spirit’s Eleanor Coleman. “There are so many different levels to experience it on. As a festival or a market.

You can go as a student or emerging producer. It’s the place to be!” This year’s highlights include Netflix’s sea monster adventure “The Sea Beast,” and first glimpses from “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” from DreamWorks Animation, “Ernest and Celestine, a Trip to Gibberitia,” and Walt Disney’s “Strange World.” The Netflix Animation Showcase focuses on the streamer’s upcoming slate, from pre-school to anime, adult and tentpoles, offering previews from Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio” and Kid Cudi’s “Entergalactic.” “A few years ago we entered a golden age of animation,” Marin says. “Video games, comic and manga are now at the heart of young people’s experiences and allow different art forms to interact.” Annecy’s Intl. Animation Film Market (MIFA) expects around 4,000 attendees. Its various events include a work-in-progress sidebar and a gap financing market.

“All countries want to be back in Annecy physically,” says Véronique Encrenaz, head of MIFA. “The animation sector adapted well to the pandemic. Everyone kept working and there’s exciting content to show. But it’s particularly hard for emerging countries to break through in an online format.” Annecy will include its first dedicated Africa pavilion and forecasts an important presence from countries with a burgeoning animation sector, such as India, Italy, Colombia, Mexico, Chile and Brazil.

MIFA is organizing 10 extra pitching sessions and expects a particularly strong turnout from streamers and studios looking for talent.

Some countries will only be attending online, including China and Taiwan.

MIFA’s Women in the Animation Industry spotlight will present content from various professional associations worldwide and will run panel discussions, pitching sessions and a discussion about women’s roles in Japanese animation.

Another focus at Annecy will be a showcase of projects using realtime animation and the growing links among animation, videogames and VR.

“This trend is opening up new opportunities for content,” says Marin. “To create new stories and change the way that projects are made. It’s a gamechanger for talent. A completely different pipeline. There will be more room to experiment.” Annecy will have its largest ever XR area, including work-in-progress sessions for XR and VR projects, pitching sessions and dedicated stands for players such as Unity and Epic Games.

“I think animation is the most interesting cinematic experience of our time,” concludes Marin.

“You are seeing live-action directors moving into animation and vice versa. Talent is pushing forward the frontiers, in terms of techniques and subjects. It’s a very exciting moment.”