Annecy 2013: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Commercialism and Love the Festival
With over 500 submissions to Annecy + there were so many excellent films that the selection committee had a very difficult job selecting 4 programs for the evening. The Annecy + band (Nik Phelps on woodwinds, Anne Beal on violin, Rolf Bächler, percussion, Veljko Popvic on Darbuka, Alexi Alexof, guitarlale, and Daniel Sujlic on percussion) were playing and Jonas Raeber, our intrepid projectionist was ready to roll. When the screen didn’t arrive it was time to improvise. Jonas saved the day by running to his hotel for 2 double bed sheets and a young Indian student climbed precariously up the side of the building to hang the sheets and save the night. The audience watched his climb in amazement fearful that he was going to fall at any minute.
Everything was going beautifully as the packed crowd in the Café des Artes courtyard watched the films. At 22h00 (10PM) the French gendarmes showed up and demanded that we turn off all sound and music. Bill and I understood that the bar owner had gotten the necessary noise permit but we had not been told that the permit had been revoked because 2 days before there had been a late night rave at the café. The neighbors were so angry that they got the police to revoke our permit.
There was no reasoning with the gendarmes, they meant business, and as much as Bill and I love hosting Annecy + we weren’t willing to land in a French jail for it.
I felt terrible about having to screen films without their sound tracks but the film makers who were present and the audience were very understanding and watched the last 3 silent segments enthusiastically. Super by Johan Klungel of the Netherlands was the audience’s choice for best film. Johan received a box set of Show of Shows DVD’s generously donated by Ron Diamond of AWN. German animator Gottfried Mentor was voted 2nd prize, a Bill Plympton DVD, for Oh Sheep!
I apologize to all filmmakers whose film had to be screened without sound but I will note that the top prize winner Super was shown without sound. It’s also sad that the excellent Annecy + band couldn’t entertain the audience longer. It was amusing to note that when the films were screening the audience was perfectly quiet but when the screening was over the talking at the café was much louder than the films would have been. We are already at work trying to find a place in Annecy where we won’t have this problem next year.
Over the years the Saturday picnic that Nik and I host has grown and grown. Unlike many parties at Annecy everyone is welcome at our picnic and it is lovely to see renowned professionals sitting on the grass next to students, everyone chatting, eating, and drinking away. Part of the fun is that everyone contributes their talents so of course there is always lots of music. For several years Swedish comic artist Stefan Eriksson has entertained the picnic with his amazing feats of magic. This year I learned that Stefan holds the Swedish National Magician title and he will be vying for the European Championship crown later this year.
Several years ago Joanna Quinn began hosting the rounders game at our picnic and even though she wasn’t at Annecy this year the tradition continues. In her place she not only sent the trophy for the winning team as well as her friend Katie Steed, animator and member of the British Olympic Badminton Team and rounders enthusiast. Katie and British animator Jamie Badminton of Karrot Studio organized the 2 teams and kept the game rolling along. All of the extremely athletic animators who played seemed to have a great time.
The most anticipated event at the picnic is always the very combative paddle boat race. After an afternoon of sun, food, and plenty of drink we took to the water to race out and around the island in the lake and back to the start as fast as we could.
The only rule is that your boat has to go around the island. People have been known to jump from boat to boat, use water pistols, and splash lots of water to slow competitors down. The race is always very funny. This year’s winning team was Marita Mayer of the Fredrikstad Animation Festival in Norway and German animator Oliver Throm. Hopefully they will be back next year to defend their title.