Annecy Animation Festival – the historical background

Annecy has held fourteen festivals of animated films from small beginnings in the l960s to the important occasion it has now become. The festival is organised by the Journees International du Cinema d’Animation(JICA) jointly with the International Animated Film Association (ASIFA). This year, for the first time, the festival was held in the town’s new cultural centre, the Bonlieu. Built to replace the old cinema and casino complex which formerly housed the festival, the new centre has much better viewing facilities and more of them. Two exhibitions of work directly related to the films shown during the festival together with numerous other displays were spread around the building. Three viewing rooms were in use at various times during the day. There were facilities for watching super 8 films and videos as well as the commercial gauges.

The main business of the festival fell into two distinct parts: retro¬spectives of past work and films which had been entered for the competitions. The retrospectives covered a wide range of films ranging from Hugh Harman and Len Lye to the work of Piotr Kamler. In addition to being able to wallow in the nostalgia of the old films like Len Lye’s RAINBOW DANCE or Hugh Harrnan’s MCM classics, the retrospectives provide an opportunity for animation enthusiasts to renew their acquaintance with these directors or to discover them for the first time. Often the retrospectives show the work of directors whose work has only recently been rediscovered and this year was no exception

Jean Delaurier who worked mostly between the wars has been largely forgotten even in his native France, yet he produced some fine work and he himself still had much of the artwork from his films which were mostly made by cutting out paper shapes and sticking them to cel. It is claimed that he was the pioneer of this technique which is widely used today. For example in the Dulux ‘White’ commercials). An exhibition of his work was held in the foyer of the Bonlieu which enabled animators to see just how those films had been produced and to appreciate the artistry of the drawings. By complete contrast one of the other retro¬spectives included the film CHRONOPOLIS made by Piotr Kamler. This puppet film defies meaningful summarisation of the plot because the complexity of the images and ideas within it. To call it science fiction would be to do it an injustice, but that is probably the closest popular medium which it resembles. A film which will probably never be shown commercially in Britain, it certainly deserves to be studied by animators and artists alike.

THE DAY I STOPPED SMOKING from Zagrab Film. The title of the film says the programme note. ‘is rely an excuse to speak of the loneliness, alienation and tension of contemporary man.

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