written by Johannes Wolters
Partytime at Annecy! Do you know which party is going on today? Are you invited? How do you sneak into a party? And why should you do that?
When I first went to Annecy, I was totally concentrating on watching as many films as possible. I thought that´s the proper way of behaving while being away on a big event like Annecy. Then I discovered the possibility to talk to the people, who actually were responsible for some of the magic I experienced while watching their movies. You could meet them after the screenings, standing patiently in the foyer of the Festival Center called Bonlieu. If you were lucky they would answer some of your questions and draw you some very nice sketches. Then it went back to the next program.
But the festival offered a wonderful possibility to start a new festival day. On every morning, except the very first day, you can meet some of the filmmakers during the Shorts and Breakfast Events hosted by Serge Bromberg. There he talked to the filmmakers, whose short films had screened the evening before. You are invited to ask questions and most of all you can do that while drinking a wonderful cup of coffee for free. And of course you instantly begin to meet people. People sitting next to you, people who like you are interested in animation and visual effects coming from every place of the planet to talk about animation.
So I began to ask my neighbours what they were doing and so on. I remember sitting next to a tall, friendly looking guy, who humbly replied that he was the director of Disney´s “The Lion King”, Roger Allers. I ended up with a nice drawing of Puumba. That´s one of the things I love most here at Annecy. You can approach almost everyone, even if it is Henry Selick or Bob Osher, who runs Sony Imageworks. I spoke to Conrad Vernon today, the co-director of “Monsters vs. Aliens”, who did a signing hour at the foyer at Bonlieu, I met Academy Award winner Michael Dudok deWitt, ran into character designer Harald Sieperman, with whom I went into a café for a short Café au Lait. Minutes later we were joined by German animator Felix Herzog, then entering the scene was Fabian Erlinghäuser, supervising animator of “Brendan – Secret of Kells.” Together with him six guys from Cartoon Saloon sat down at our growing table, one of them Cartoon Saloon founder Tom Moore, who is the author and director of “Brendan.” I took the opportunity to interview both of them, we exchanged cards, - never go to a festival without business cards!!! While interviewing them, Victor Antonov arrived at the scene, the artistic director of “The Prodigies," we met at fmx at Stuttgart, he sat down for a drink and joined our conversation. Welcome to Animator´s Land.
To meet interesting people, someone probably thousands of years ago had the magnificent idea to throw a party. This was my last step into the secrets of the festival. Annecy has wonderful parties, hidden ones, open ones, and forbidden ones. Even in times of credit crunches, the amount of parties did not alter very much. So today you could join the Zagreb-Party, run by the organizers of the Zagreb Film festival, you could join the Swiss Party, the Danish party or go to the MIFA-party, traditionally held on the opening night of the big International Animation Film Market at the Hotel Imperial. There is the DreamWorks Picnic or the famous Dutch Party and those are just the ones I am aware of. The trick of course is to get invited. Or to boldly go where you never have gone before and to sneak in somehow. The reward: sometimes wine and food, sometimes music and dance but always interesting, creative people, which you love to talk to.
So, if you go to Annecy, keep in mind you should not spend the time entirely in the cinema. Not entirely! So, that it is for the third day of Annecy.
Sorry, I almost forgot to mention, that I sat through a Renderman Session hosted by Pixar and listened there to "Up" co-director Bob Peterson, who talked about his and Pete Docter´s trip to South America, especially to famous Angel Falls, researching the scenery for Pixar´s latest sensational feature film. Did you know that Peterson was rejected three times before he made it into Pixar? His advise to all the young students: Never give up! I met Henry Selick again by the “Talk to the Filmmakers”, where he patiently answered all the questions of his many fans. And Bob Osher and Hannah Minghella from Sony Animation and Sony Imageworks did a beautiful presentation of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, which look very, very promising. They actually showed 13 minutes of the film, which left you wishing to see the whole film right then and there. You simply cannot avoid meeting interesting people at Annecy. It is absolutely impossible! And that is the beauty of it!