Event Preview: Annecy Festival/Mifa

The Annecy Festival, which returns June 9 to 15, has long been a must-attend for those in the animated film business, serving as a key launch platform for Hollywood studios, boutique indies, up-and-comers and everyone in between. That diversity is reflected in the festival’s competition lineup, with 23 titles chosen from 100 films submitted. Alongside a strong slate of European entries in the Official Competition, among them Into the Wonderwoods and Rock Bottom, there are several features from Asia, including Japan’s Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window and China’s The Storm. The films competing in the Contrechamp category include Spain’s Sultana’s Dream, South Korea’s Gill, the Philippines’ The Missing and Pakistan’s The Glassworker, marking the first time that the South Asian nation has been represented at Annecy, Marcel Jean, artistic director, tells TV Kids Weekly.

The Most Precious of Cargoes by Michel Hazanavicius kicks off the screenings on June 9. There will also be sneak previews of Paramount’s Transformers One, DreamWorks Animation’s The Wild Robot and Alain Chabat’s Asterix and the Big Fight. The week also includes a presentation on the making of Netflix’s Ultraman: Rising, master classes with Wes Anderson and Terry Gilliam (who is also receiving an Honorary Cristal this year), first looks at Disney’s Inside Out 2 and Moana 2 and a screening of Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me 4.

Mickaël Marin, CEO of the Annecy Festival, tells TV Kids Weekly that the event is so much more than just a platform for completed works. Indeed, the Annecy International Animation Film Market (Mifa) has become an essential event for those in the business of financing new animated projects across television and film.

Marin has been with the organization since 2002 and has witnessed firsthand Mifa’s expansion as a flagship B2B event for the animation industry. “Year after year, we try to have more buyers,” Marin says. “We listen to what the needs of the professionals are. We improve the quality of our platform. At the same time, the growth of the animation industry has been spectacular. Africa and South America now have a strong presence, as well as some countries in Asia. We work with emerging countries to allow artists, producers and studios to be present at Annecy.”

At a time when the industry is in transition, the Annecy Festival is keen to help educate the animators of tomorrow, with some 4,000 students attending this year, and provide a platform for executives to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the sector. “It’s a place to have debates, conferences and masterclasses,” Marin says. “We want to help the industry. We talk about the present and the future.”

All segments of the industry are represented, Jean says, allowing Annecy to be present in the life cycle of an entire production. “It’s not only spotlighting a movie when it’s finished,” Jean says. “It’s a long journey. Sometimes [being at the festival] helps a production to find an international sales agent. We have an active role in the life of a film.”

Key components of Mifa include pitching events, market screenings, networking opportunities, showcases and panels on topics such as direct-to-consumer, the metaverse, AI and funding schemes. New for this year is a section devoted to XR and gaming content.