Serge Bromberg Says Goodbye to Annecy
And there is a moment when well, you feel, it’s now, it’s now. But here again, I may regret it [stepping down]. No doubt, I will regret it when I see what my successor will do. No doubt, I will think, “Oh I would not have done this,” or “What a great idea. I wish I had that idea before.” I’m very optimistic. I’m acting here for the best of the festival. And if there is any problem of course, I’ll always be there.
The festival started for me in 1998. I was hosting the Award Ceremony. No one knew me, I was just here as the host. But I was adopted like a son of Annecy. This is my family.
DS: Do you think that you have helped the festival evolve and grow in ways that will last after you leave? Can you point to anything you’ve accomplished that makes you feel especially proud?
SB: Yes, I’m awfully proud. And I must tell you this. Dominique Puthod, the President, made a very bold choice when he hired me in 1999, right after the 1998 ceremony. He said, well, at that time I was hosting a two-hour daily TV show on public television in France with animation for kids. I was the French Mr. Rogers, but much, much, much funnier. I think I was funny. I mean, the kids loved me and it lasted for eight years, so probably it was funny.
And so they brought me here. And the first thing I realized is that the DNA of Annecy, the notion that we regard the festival as anti-studio, didn't make any sense. From the beginning, the organizers did not speak very good English, probably they were a bit scared of negotiating with big studios. Probably. I don’t know for sure. But in an event, keeping the industry away simply did not make any sense. How can you tell the story of animation without Snow White, Chuck Jones, to name a few? It was just impossible.
DS: You can't.
SB: You just can’t, it’s just ridiculous. So, I said to Dominique and Tiziana [Tiziana Loschi, the festival’s managing director], that, I would join on the condition that Roy Disney would be the next honorary president, John Lasseter would be in the jury and that would be the start of a total global change of the festival. I think it literally changed. It was the thing to do. There was no other way. Otherwise, we would be one of the many animation film festivals where you see very interesting stuff…”
DS: That festival by the lake…
SB: Yes. I’m proud of the size the festival has reached now. I think the MIFA, the mix between the MIFA and the festival is much, much nicer today. It’s not MIFA anti festival. These days are over. We all know how tough it is to find money. So, we need distributors, we need television programs, we need schools, we need technology. It’s a global world! For my real first edition as a decision maker, I made that choice and I’m very proud I could do it. I mean, the Annecy people thought it was high-risk.
DS: That’s interesting that they thought it was high-risk.
SB: Of course, of course, I speak fluent English. I go to the United States all the time. I used to host shows, buy programs, sell programs, produce programs with my own company, Lobster Films. So, basically I was one from the MIFA and one from the festival at the same time. And that gives a difference of perspective. I hope my successor will share the same feeling.
DS: Any highlights, any things that you look back on and say, “I’m glad I got a chance to meet this person or be involved with this?”
SB: So many that naming one would be an offense to all the others. So, I will not name the big names and forget about the small names. I will say the members of the festival crews have been really amazing. I must say that the best moments, maybe not the best but the richest moments are not during the craze of the festival, that week where things are moving so fast, that you cannot stop, even if you met the woman of your dreams, you would kiss her and leave because you have another appointment.
But during the pre-selection process, we would spend two weeks, three weeks with people from all around the world, watching films, discussing films, sharing good and bad moments. Those are the richest moments. Besides that, I mean, I’ve had so much, I’m so spoiled by this festival. Everything one would wish to have, I’ve had. Except that my wife, on my second festival in 2000, told me, “Listen, when you’re here, I’m with you, but you’re so crazy running everywhere, I don’t even see you. So, I’d rather stay home.” So since 2001, she just does not show up in Annecy during the festival because she feels it’s not her place. Besides that, only good moments. And lots of animation. I loved animation before. I grew into loving it even more, if that is even possible.
Dan Sarto is editor-in-chief and publisher of Animation World Network.