A Tribute to Jean-Luc Xiberras

compiled by Annick Teninge and Georges Lacroix

The architect of the highly regarded Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Jean-Luc Xiberras passed away on December 26, 1998. We wanted to pay tribute to him for his immense contribution to animation. Here an international selection of friends, colleagues and animators give their final thoughts on a man whose presence in animation will long linger.

Annick Teninge, Ron Diamond, Dan Sarto and Heather Kenyon.
Animation World Network




We know you as a professional in animation, passionate, generous, always thirsty to discover something a little bit farther than the frontiers, a font of knowledge, know-how, compassion. It was this manner of living that permitted you to weave an international network of friendships. For you, the world was only an island.

You have also been someone who battled against a sick body, a fight for life, conducted with the same determination that always characterized you. Your courage, your persistence and I would say your scientific rigor, led you to know better and better the limitations of your body, and to go beyond them.

Your friends still remember how you led with a masterly hand the 1997 Annecy Festival. They knew that behind the scenes another scenario played out, with repeated transfusions and recuperation thanks to relaxation.

Don't tell me it wasn't a challenge to go some 6000 miles to attend the Crossroads of the Image conference on the Island of Réunion that same year (1997). Pierre Ayma and I were nervous about it, but it gave us such pleasure to have you with us on Réunion. Pierre, far from thinking that he would cross through the door to the other dimension before you, insisted on making the round-trip voyage beside you, with the idea that he would be able to help you if necessary. As if to reassure us, you would talk with detachment about how you managed your health from day to day: the number of white cels you had to overcome the symptoms, the little moments of recuperation.

Then came that terrible year 1998 when everything went so quickly. Pierre, who had done and given so much to the world of animation, found himself at a crucial hour. He questioned himself due to some people's reactions to his work; he interpreted this as betrayal and interrupted the project that he had undertaken. While being very professional, he functioned in fact on emotion. Without waiting for recognition, he had, like all of us, the need for respect from others. Nevertheless, he dedicated himself to a new large project for networking European colleges in a program of long-distance electronic education. Then we all had to support you because you were getting ready to face the "double or nothing" of a transplant. We saw each other between examinations at the hospital, speaking little of the illness but a great deal about this new project that would take all our energies. Do you remember? It was just a week before Pierre made his "final exit." You had a meeting with Françoise Maupin, always for the project in question.

At that time, on Réunion, I had a little health problem which forced me to go to the hospital. You both telephoned me to say, "Get out of there, be more reasonable about managing your health -- we don't want you in our club!"

For your part, you had already planned the next step in your battle. The generous compatible donor would be your older sister. So you were more and more convinced that you would get the upper hand on that sick body which you otherwise dominated.

Jean-Luc Xiberras and Pierre Ayma on Réunion Island. Courtesy of Alain Séraphine.

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