Other than my concerns over the promotion of "CHEATIN'" ("Les Amants Electriques"), there were lots of other activities going on in Annecy. The opening night film was "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" from the great Isao Takahatao (one of the founders of Studio Ghibli). The word was, this film was a masterpiece and could win the animation Oscar. Well, just like Miyazaki, I think Takahatao is past his prime. The film was lovely to look at, but the story was much too slow and long (I fell asleep a few times). Also, I believe they ran out of money near the end, because the artwork at the end of the film was so bad, it was high-school level.
We attended the Disney/Pixar BBQ on the lawn of the Imperial Palace - this was a delightful affair where I got to chat with some Disney folks and my good friends Celia Bullwinkel and Amid Amidi, publisher of Cartoon Brew.
And then there was the delightful Dreamworks picnic, organized for many years by Shelly Page, where I got to reconnect with the great animator Jan Pinkava ("Geri's Game" and "Ratatouille").
But the real main focus this year (other than "CHEATIN'") was the 9th year of the Annecy Plus Festival. This was started by Pat Smith and me back when we were frustrated that our films weren't getting selected by the judges. The first year we held it at a bar - we put together a program of other rejected films, and the response was terrific. So, we continued doing it as a tradition. Eventually Pat moved to Singapore to teach, so the wonderful Nancy Phelps stepped in to help out, and of course Nik Phelps always puts together the musical part of the program.
The last few years, we've been having some trouble finding suitable venues - either the place would be too small, or the neighbors complain about the noise, it's always something. But this year, we think we found a solution. We teamed up with the "Annecy OFF" people, who kindly supplied us with a large docked boat named "Le Cygne" that served as a gathering and drinking place.
The projector was aimed at a large screen on the boat in front of us. The fans set up chairs and blankets on the dock and were able to enjoy the show and feel the cool lakeside breezes as they watched four programs of shorts and listened to the wonderful Nik Phelps Band.
The place was packed - people drank and enjoyed the films - I think we had over a thousand people. It seems that we've found a new home for Annecy Plus. So, next year, if your film is rejected by the judges at Annecy, please send it along to Nancy or me and perhaps you'll be the next star of Annecy Plus.
Here is the program of films we showed this year: