Inaugurated in 2021, the Annecy Residency program takes three selected projects on a six-month journey, beginning with a three-month script workshop before moving to Annecy’s Papeteries Image Factory for a similar bout of tailored mentorships and visual experimentation. At the end, the filmmakers launch their development titles at the MIFA market.
When directors Pierre Le Couviour and Amine El Ouarti brought their residency-honed title “Le Cœur à danser” to last year’s MIFA, they very quickly found an eager partner in French studio Vivement Lundi, teaming with the Rennes-based production house to develop the project even further. That extra work paid off, and when the World War I-set folktale returned to pitch at this year’s MIFA, the project broke out as a serious buzz title, inspiring immediate and ardent distributor attention before claiming two of the three top prizes for best feature pitch.
That’s just a single 2021 residency project. Below are the projects that benefited from the 2022 program. Expect to hear a lot more about these three titles.
Pitched between a character study and a freak-out thriller, “Deep Fake” follows a young streamer whose broadcasts toe the line between roll-play and ASMR. As her reputation (and revenue) grows, she finds herself faced with an imposter looking to usurp her image.
“It’s a game of masks and a real head-trip,” says French director Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis. “She’ll have to prove her innocence in a digital world soaked in Philip K Dick paranoia. She’ll have to prove that she owns her proper identity.”
The project will mix a hyperrealist style lifted from the paintings of David Hockney and Hiroshi Nagai with the kind of low-fi motion capture technology available to anyone with an iPhone and an inexpensive body suit. “The film will present itself as animation, because the character will appear as a digital avatar in her streams,” Chandoutis explains. “I’m basing it off today’s day-to-day users who don’t have Hollywood means, using the same set of tools.”
Working with mentor Guangli Liu, Chandoutis also used massively multiplayer online role-playing games to create and refine the project’s previz animatics. “I want to use those tools in a counter-intuitive way, to hack the software in order to transcend its limitations,” the director explains.
“Dino Doom On Desert Planet”
A 2D feature inspired by French sci-fi films from the 1970s and 80s like “Gandahar,” “Fantastic Planet,” and “Time Masters,” Hungarian directors Zsuzsanna Kreif and Balázs Turai’s “Dino Doom On Desert Planet” spins a cosmic and quite literally star-crossed love story.
“I was half asleep on a train, and thought of this idea of a meteor girl falling in love with a human boy, and then imagined what kind of trouble that would cause,” says co-director Kreif. “It starts a whole journey, because that innocent love triggers the end of the world.”
Over time – and with the help of script mentor (and “Mars Express” co-writer) Laurent Sarfati – the plot assumed more political resonances as the filmmakers traced the various social conflicts bedeviling the project’s apocalyptic setting.
“We’re trying to evoke the current mood of eco-catastrophe,” says co-director Turai. “We all share this feeling of looming collapse, where we talk about the crisis but don’t really live it, and we tried to put this into the film. But it’s also comedic and satiric. It’s a love story, a disaster movie, and a social commentary.”
The filmmakers describe the colorful look as “pop sci-fi with a psychedelic edge,” explaining that the three narrative strands will follow different visual approaches. “Space will be colder in color and texture,” Kreif explains. “While the planet is yellow and warm and bright, and the dream world that the human and meteor share will have the style of an old comic book.”
“Hanta” joins historical fact with literary fiction, both adapting Bohumil Hrabal’s novel “Too Loud a Solitude” and telling the very story of the Czech author himself.
The way director Emilio Ramos sees it, those threads cannot be disentangled, because author Bohumil Hrabal wrote the slim text — about a paper presser tasked with destroying banned books — as a creative response to the government imposed repression that he also faced.
“At the heart of the story, both characters realize that ideas cannot be censored,” the Mexican filmmaker explains. “No matter how many book and people get destroyed, thoughts and ideas prevail. And so I tried to create a visual approach for this central concept, to make literal the thoughts and ideas swirling in the air around us.”
Ramos will animate “Hanta” in a 3D subsequently transformed to look like 2D rotoscope, and will soon finish the full animatic. Working with script and design mentors Anita Doron and Sepideh Farsi, Ramos honed the project’s dialogue and antagonists, while testing out concrete solutions to make the concept of swirling thoughts a distinct visual element.