Annecy Festival 2023 – Part 2

If you haven’t read my first part of my recap, make sure to check it out here. Now, on with the show!

I never want to leave this place, so beautiful!

Fourth day of the festival – Wednesday

First up this morning I had booked the feature film and short film pitches at Mifa, which I had been very much looking forward to. I got to the Centre Bonlieu then took the shuttle to the Impérial Palace and arrived at the Salle de la Volière about a half an hour before the first event started. It was a pavilion that was erected out the front of the hotel. The line up before me wasn’t too long, and when we were all allowed to enter, I got a pretty good spot near the front.

What was interesting about these events was that photos and video recording were all highly encouraged from the audience, which makes sense, as these are projects that are expecting to find homes. There was definitely a strong indie vibe to all the projects, and the strength and enthusiasm of the presentations from each team was varied. But the work spoke for itself, especially the feature film projects. All of those had included at least a few minutes of example animation along development images of their projects. Clearly a lot of work had gone into them.

I was surprised to hear that photos and video was encouraged!
An example of one of the feature film pitches.
Next up the short film pitches.
An example of one of the short film pitches.

I was very hungry after the pitches. Close to the hotel are a couple of pretty expensive restaurants, but 5 minutes walk from the hotel I found on Google maps there was a bakery. When I got there, there was a very long line, no doubt a favourite place for the budget friendly crowd. The line went fairly quickly though, and the food was good.

The line was much longer than this.
Very good food reasonably priced close by to Mifa

Next there was a no reservation discussion called ‘Adapting a Famous Animated IP’, which was a good insight into what it takes to convert a story that is well known into the medium of animation.

I then took some time walking around the Mifa pavillion. It was a madhouse, so many people, and the whole thing was on two levels which just kept going and going. So many students lined up at each studio booth to talk with recruiters and other staff member representatives. I learned that if you wanted to catch up with someone working at a booth, even if it’s not to look for a job, best to reserve a time if you can, or else you will spend a lot of time waiting in lines. I did have a couple of meetings with some animation executives set up beforehand. So after those, I took the shuttle back to the Centre Bonlieu to line up for a film that had a very troubled and storied past which I had heard so much about: Nimona. And boy it did not disappoint, what a film it was to see it first time at Annecy.

I was not prepared for much much I would enjoy seeing this film!

After the film had ended, there was non-stop applause for the filmmakers for several minutes afterwards. It turned out that I was sitting quite close to the directors and creator of the comic, and was able to record some of the applause. At the time I uploaded this to Twitter.

It was time for dinner, so I found seat at one of the many restaurants nearby. Then it was soon time for ‘”Rick and Morty“: 10 Years of Intergalactic Adventures’, an entertaining discussion and some entertaining stories about the making of the show.

Hearing summer's voice live was weird and funny.

Fifth day of the festival – Thursday

Another start to a perfect day at Annecy, and I take the shuttle over to the Impérial Palace for the last of the three Mifa pitch sessions, this time for TV series and specials. I noticed the line a little shorter today. A quick conversation with other festival goers in line reveals that as the week progresses, attendees start to miss more and more of their reservations, especially the morning ones due to the parties that happen at night.

As soon as the pitch session finished, I had to make it back over to the Centre Bonlieu for my much anticipated ‘The Making of “Nimona“‘ talk, which turned out to be extremely enlightening, and as fortune would have it, I was able to introduce myself to one of the amazing executives at Annapurna Animation who were responsible for keeping Nimona alive when it was abandoned at Bluesky by Disney. It was very made very clear during this talk that the directors held no love for Disney.

The directors were very open about their feelings for this film.

Due to my initial ignorance of how much time I needed in between sessions when I was originally coming up with my schedule, I wasn’t able to make it to a no reservation session at Mifa ‘Is There a Show Runner in the House?’ So I had a meal, then went to see another of my reservations a little later on ‘White Plastic Sky‘, but unfortunately I didn’t read the program properly, and realised as the movie had started that it was the French language version. So, always make sure to check the language of the film you want to attend. Even though I couldn’t understand much of what was said, I more or less got the story, and was still entertained by the visuals. I then wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon seeing all the things that I’d been passing while on my way to the various sessions:

  • The amazing bookshop with a huge selection of books and comics.
  • The small Chicken Run exhibition.
  • The Annecy sign on the grass near the water.
  • And as fortune would have it, I got in a line at the right time to meet the amazing and super talented Jorge R. Gutierrez and have him draw a little illustration for me.
The amazing bookshop inside the Centre Bonlieu
Part of the mini Chicken Run exhibition in the Centre Bonlieu
Waiting in line to get some things signed.
The super nice Jorge R. Gutierrez!

Sixth day of the festival – Friday

The general vibe of the festival and attendees had definitely started to slow down a little. Some people had even started to leave Annecy, attempting to miss the huge exodus from the small town. My first session for the day was near the top of my list when I was planning my schedule: ‘Not Kidding Around. Adult Animation at Warner Bro’s Discovery’. As someone greatly interested in seeing the expansion of adult animation, I was looking forward to picking up some tips. There was a heavy focus on comedies in this session, and I am happy to share my notes that I made during the talk in point form.

  • What Adult Swim are looking for in 1\4 hour comedies:
    • Creator\animator driven and voiced.
    • Situation narrative.
    • Acts as an incubator for new creators.
    • Good example: Smiling Friends: surreal and strange with lot’s of heart, focused on one story per episode, no B + C stories. 
  • What Adult Swim are looking for 1\2 hour comedies:
    • More concerned about character and narrative than setting.
    • Something that reads as only Adult Swim would screen it.
    • Good example: Royal Crackers: a low rent “Succession”. 
  • Dramas that are considered successful (prestige animation):
    • Primal
    • Samurai Jack
  • Main question when pitching: why does it need to be animated?
  • Adult Swim gave some general notes about themselves:
    • There is no “house” style.
    • Looking for super unique ideas.
    • Shows that advance the format.
    • Originality and pushing the envelope.
    • They buy into the creator much more than the concept.
  • What Adult Swim don’t want:
    • Apocalyptic stories (pre or post).
    • Stoner stories.
    • Going for the most taboo elements (God/Devil).
    • Any setting between the 1950’s and 1990’s.
  • What Adult Swim do want:
    • Should be more personally inspired, more specific to the creator.
    • Frame of reference should appeal to a main audience of 18 – 24 first.
  • Things to not do/say in a pitch:
    • “Rick and Morty meets…”.
    • No time travel and dimension hopping, they have got it covered already, and the tank runs out fast.
    • Don’t try to out Seth Seth.
    • Anything that is mainly angry\mean\gross.
  • Things to do in a pitch:
    • Show what’s at the heart of the show.
    • The dynamic of the main characters.
    • Get voices going as soon as possible.
    • Need to see art, there is no buying without an artist/art look any more.

Next up was ‘Walt Disney Animation Studios Presents “Wish“‘. I was curious as to how much they would show, and to be honest, it wasn’t much. We got some teasers of some sequences, and they also talked a little about the short ‘Once Upon a Studio’. From what was shown, it looked like Disney were experimenting with less of a full 3D look.

A lot of anticipation for what was about to be shown.

After, I watched the Japanese anime ‘Komada – A Whiskey Family‘, and even though I had no reservation, it was fairly easy to get into, being near the end of the week.

I knew the closing ceremony was on in the evening, and I had emailed the organisers to find out how I could attend with no success (I never got an email back). But I found out, that much like the rest of the festival, there was a ‘no reservation’ line for the ceremony, so I quickly found it, and it turned out I was sort of near the beginning. I waited for about an hour in the line, then was eventually let in. The atmosphere was electric, and I was happy to be able to have been a part of it.

Mexico was the guest country for this year's festival.
All of the winners of this year's featival.

Seventh day of the festival – Saturday

Saturday was looking to be a much smaller day, a good deal of the attendees had already left, and so I arrived at a session I hadn’t reserved about 10 minutes before it started, Nezumikozô Jirokichi, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough space for unreserved people. Bythis time I had decided my Annecy festival had more or less come to an end, so I spent the rest of the day with my family visiting the local attractions including:

  • Animated Film Museum
  • Palais de l’Ile
  • Château d’Annecy

Later we met a friend of mine who I had worked with a few years prior and who lived close by. We then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening hanging out with my friend’s group of friends, a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I ate my first raclette sandwich.

The pamphlet from the first ever Annecy Animation Festival.
The Animated Film Museum.
The gorgeous view of the town from the Château d'Annecy.

Here are some random food photos for those that are interested.

It is almost mandatory to try fondue at least once if you have never had it before.
Organising my notes at a nearby tapas restraunt. The menu was quite small, and quite expensive.
This locally made sausage in gravy is a specialty of the region, but I can't remember the name of the meal, it was very good.
On my last night I was able to have a simple yet tasty crepe with tomato, ham and cheese. This photo doesn't do the food justice though.

I had decide to leave Annecy a few days after the festival finished, to give me some time to appreciate the rest of the town and to take in the quaint atmosphere, and with perfect weather during the whole time, it was a great change of pace to slow down. If you are able to spare a few more days after, I would highly recommend it.

All in all, my first Annecy Festival was an exhausting and exhilarating experience. The town itself is like a perfect postcard, the food was great, everyone was friendly and I made some great new contacts that I couldn’t have made any other way. I am definitely looking forward to my next festival!

Thanks Annecy!

The end of Annecy, no more insanely long queues.