Annecy Animation Festival – the historical background

Another new idea this year was a display of film making equipment. Britain was well represented amongst the manufacturers who included Neilson-Hordell with a video rostrum. Peter Neilson, a former animator and special effects man himself, invited a couple of animators to try out his rostrum for themselves and in the space of half an hour, an international mini epic was completed. It described the efforts of a cut out paper bird to land on a red tree which persisted in growing bigger and bigger. The great value of the video was that the results could be viewed immediately and had there been more time, no doubt the theme could have been expanded.

THEM by Bill Mather of Great Britain was originally produced for the BBC’s INNES BOOK OF RECORDS show.

Other manufacturers showed almost anything one could want in order to make an animated film from paper and pencils to cameras. A young Dutch animator, Hans Perk had brought samples of a moderately priced animation disc of novel design which he was manufacturing and which he hoped to export. A number of distributors offered advice and expressed an interest and it will probably be available in Britain soon. For anyone wishing to set up an animation studio from scratch or to invest in the very latest equipment, the festival provided a most useful introduction to the main manufacturers.

In addition to viewing the films, any festival is an excellent place to meet animators and film people from all over the world. Indeed as one person said to me, “Who needs politicians? Leave it to the animators to cement international relations”. With only language as a barrier, East could be seen talking to West, Atlantic to Pacific, totalitarian to democrat and black to white with none of the inhibitions with which politicians like to burden us. A common interest and the unique communication qualities of animation was all that was needed. News of films in production, availability of lobs and international animation gossip of all kinds was exchanged in the cafes and bars so thoughtfully provided in the Bonlieu. New friendships could be made, old friendships renewed, exchange visits arranged and parties organised.

CHRONOPOLIS by Piotr Kalmer. This puppet film defies meaningful summarisation of the plot because of the complexity of the images and ideas within it.

The last event of the festival was a superb reception given jointly by the town of Annecy and JICA for all participants in the festival. It was the towns and organisers way of thanking everyone for coming and bidding everyone au revoir. The reception was held in the courtyard of the castle which was illuminated for the occasion by flaming torches. It began at 11.30 p.m. and was still going on after 3.30. Food as only the French can prepare it together with ample wine added to the wonderful atmosphere of the moon and torch lit castle. The mayor of Annecy and the board members of JICA circulated freely with a word for everyone. The reception made a fitting end to a marvellous festival.

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Originally printed in Animator’s newsletter Issue 6 (Autumn 1983)