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Annecy 2019: Guest Country Japan in the Spotlight

Toei Animation’s Yôichi Kotabe to serve as Guest of Honor; Studio Ponoc’s short film anthology ‘Modest Heroes’ to receive French premiere.

Studio Ponoc’s short film anthology ‘Modest Heroes’ will have its French premiere at Annecy 2019.

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival has announced that this year’s edition, which runs June 10-15, will spotlight Japanese animation with guest country Japan and guest of honor Yôichi Kotabe.

“In 1999 the Annecy Festival honored Japanese animation, making this cinematography the first to receive such a distinction. At that time the great authors of Japanese animation were just emerging to the European audience and the craze for Anime was gaining popularity with young moviegoers,” comments festival artistic director Marcel Jean.  

“Twenty years later Annecy is placing Japanese animation in the spotlight once again. This is because there is still so much to say about this cinematography where vitality has never waned, and despite the enormous audience it sustains there are still many hidden treasures: there are several works that have rarely been shown, entirely or in part, in the West, and we long to share these discoveries to a much wider audience,” Jean continues.

“With our gathered expertise and close affiliations with several prominent players in the Japanese animation industry, Annecy 2019 will provide an unprecedented view of this complex cinematography. One that has marked international contemporary cinema in more ways than one. So, we invite you to this remarkable rendezvous to discover a whole new side to Japanese animation!” Jean concludes.

Here’s a glimpse at what attendees can look forward to at Annecy 2019:

Yôichi Kotabe

Guest of Honor Yôichi Kotabe

Born in Taiwan in 1936, Yôichi Kotabe is one of his country’s most brilliant animators and a privileged witness to the golden age of cartoons, and his long career embodies the elegance of classic animation in all his finest Japanese productions. Kotabe joined Toei Animation in 1959, working in close collaboration with Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki on creative duo’s earliest film, The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun (1968). He also directed Panda! Go Panda! (1972, 1973) Chie, the Brat (1981), Tarô, The Dragon Boy (1979), the Heidi series (1974) and Marco (1976), for which he also designed the characters.

Jury Members Yoshiaki Nishimura & Koji Yamamura

Yoshiaki Nishimura

Yoshiaki Nishimura is the founder, CEO and executive producer of Studio Ponoc, the studio behind director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s acclaimed feature Mary and the Witch’s Flower (2017) and last year’s short film anthology, Modest Heroes, which features three shorts by directors Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Yoshiyuki Momose and Akihiko Yamashita.

Koji Yamamura

From 2002 to 2014, Nishimura worked at Studio Ghibli, where he spearheaded advertising for several of the studio’s animated features, including Howl’s Moving Castle (2004), Tales from Earthsea (2006) and Ponyo (2008), and also served as producer for The Tale of the Princess Kaguya (2013) and When Marnie Was There (2014), both of which earned Academy Award nominations for best animated feature.

Yamamura Animation director Koji Yamamura has dedicated a large part of his career to making films for children. The Oscar-nominated Mt. Head (2002), The Old Crocodile (2005), Franz Kafka’s A Country Doctor (2007), and Muybridge’s Strings (2011) were awarded a combined total of more than 90 prizes, including the grand prizes of four major animation festivals: Annecy, Zagreb, Ottawa, Hiroshima. A member of many international juries, Yamamura has had many retrospective screenings worldwide. He is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and is also a professor at the Tokyo University of the Arts.

Modest Heroes Screening Event

Annecy 2019 will mark the French premiere of Modest Heroes, the collection of three short films from Studio Ponoc: Kanini & Kanino (written and directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi), Life Ain’t Gonna Lose (written and directed by Yoshiyuki Momose) and Invisible (written and directed by Akihiko Yamashita).

Annecy 2019 will also include a tribute to Venus War (1989) by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko with an anniversary screening of a remastered version of the film with subtitles in English to celebrate 30 years of a legendary film that is an integral part of Japanese history.

Also planned is a multimedia exhibition at the Haras from imagespassages: Japonohara featuring works employing several different artistic approaches. These include virtual reality with Planet°° by Momoko Seto; Nova in My Hand, a cosmic and poetic work by Yuki Kawamura; City of Transformers, a burlesque and critical production by Ikuru Kuwajima; and the comic-like cartoon Kiya, Kiya and adolescence by Akino Kondoh (courtesy of the Mizuma Art Gallery/Tokyo). These female and male artists, born in Japan in the 1980s, form a unique selection as much by their exquisite creations as by their diverse origins. There will also be several programs that include historical short films and numerous classics, a Japanese delegation at Mifa, and many other surprises.

“Japan will be participating in Annecy 2019, the world’s largest international animation film festival, and we are honored to see Japanese animation will be in tribute,” the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs commented in a statement. “Japanese animation has a long history with many masterpieces created by world-famous Japanese artists. For Annecy 2019, we would like to bring you some of our talented young creators building the next generation of animation, and hope that Japan can also contribute to furthering its global development. We will prepare special projects leading to the future of animation both in Japan and the world.”

Source: Annecy International Animation Film Festival

Jennifer Wolfe's picture

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network, Jennifer Wolfe has worked in the Media & Entertainment industry as a writer and PR professional since 2003.