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Annecy 2005 in Final Stretch

All the short and feature films on competition have now been screened at Annecy 2005 and the judges are off to make their final deliberations for the awards ceremony tomorrow night, June 11 in Annecy, France. The week started off a bit cold and dreary, in both the weather and the film selection. But there have certainly been better selections than the previous year, offering a remarkably varied amount of styles, techniques and storytelling.

That and the weather is gradually warming up, but the remarkably cool evenings have put a damper on late-night partying that has marked so many previous gatherings of the animation faithful. However, many would like the students to cool it down a bit during the screenings. In addition to the traditional paper airplane throwing between films, they have been tossing balloons about the main theater, doing the wave and talking or clapping to music during the actual screenings, which has been annoying to many of the professionals.

There is much more 3D than in previous years, amongst the stop-motion, 2D, cutouts, mixed with live action, more obscure techniques and lots of photo montage. Hopefully there are scouts attending from MTV because many of the artists look like they are ready to promo work with the right sensibility and timing for the music video channel.

Just watching audience reaction, some of the shorts favorites appear to be:

PIÑATA, by Mike Hollands, AustraliaTHE LAST KNIT, by Laura Neuvonen, FinlandLEARN SELF DEFENSE, by Chris Harding, U.S.IN THE ROUGH, Paul Taylor, U.S.THE MOON AND THE SON: AN IMAGINED CONVERSATION, by John Canemaker, U.S.PULENG, by Ali Taylor, U.K.BOW TIE DUTY FOR SQUAREHEADS, Stephan-Flint Miller, GermanyGODMOTHERS PRESENT, by Katerina Mikhaylova, RussiaCITY PARADIS, by Gaelle Denis, U.K.MAESTRO, by Geza M. Toth, HungaryMORIR DE AMOR, by Gil Alkabetz, GermanyAGRICULTURAL REPORT, by Melinda Sydney Padua, IrelandTHEY MYSTERIOUS GEOGRAPHIC EXPLORATIONS OF JASPER MORELLO, by Anthony Lucas, Australia

As was the case last year, many of the student films are superior to the professional films, displaying lots of finesse and promising careers.

Definitely delighting the predominantly student audience in the feature film contest is TERKEL IN TROUBLE, by Stefan Fjeldmark, Thorbjorn Christoffersen and Kresten Vestbjerg Andersen from A. Film in Denmark. This 3D film done for less than two million euros in less than two years is so full of bad boy, outrageous humor, foul language and violence it makes the SOUTH PARK boys look like wussies with loads of Kill Kenny type acts and gags. Definitely too extreme for theatrical distribution in its current state for the U.S., a good part of the audience found it hilarious. The movie was based upon a famous radio play. And it will astound people about the Danish culture which considered it a big hit in Denmark.

These young filmmakers (27) just three years out of The Animation Workshop (Christoffersen and Anderson) are fresh and should definitely give Matt Stone and Trey Parker a run at their social satire animated, thorny crown. The told AWN they were given complete freedom to make whatever amused them and could incorporate animators suggestions for gags along the way, without having to go through a committee of approvals, as is the case with most feature films. AWN will be carrying more of their conversation and views shortly

How this will sit with the older jury, faced with vastly different offerings, remains to be seen when the winners are reeled out Saturday night.