Friday, June 21, 2019

Annecy 2019

I've just returned from one of my favorite film festivals, the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, located high in the French Alps.  This is the granddaddy of animation festivals.  I've been going every year - since I first attended in 1985 with my first film "Boomtown".  (By my accounting I've probably attended Annecy more than any other filmmaker...)

The week started out as a rainy mess, so I was able to catch a few films - as you probably already know, I'm a huge fan of Masaaki Yuasa (his films "Mind Game" and "Kickheart" are brilliant).  He had his new film, "Ride Your Wave" at Annecy in competition, and it's a great departure from his other films...only in the wrong direction.  I don't know why he abandoned his radical gonzo style of animation, but this film looks just like a million other animé films I've seen.

Perhaps he's married and needs the money.  Or perhaps his producers forced him to copy the other Japanese animators.  But it was all there: the big eyes, wispy hair, no nose, all the clichéd telltale signs of animé!  And the story also was a sugary sweet romance between two young surfers. Please, Masaaki, get back to your brilliant kick-ass animation!

I was also really looking forward to the new Lorenzo Mattotti film "The Bears' Famous Invasion of Sicily".  I had to stand outside in the rain in a very long line to get in.  All the seats were sold out, but I managed to sneak in, just barely.  This film is the most beautiful film I've ever witnessed!  Every shot was a masterpiece and I wanted to linger on each beautiful background.  I was gobsmacked!!! I can't think of a film that was so similarly gorgeous - "Bambi"...No, "Fantasia"...No, "The Red Turtle"...No!  Plus, the story was excellent, with great characters, great designs, only the young female lead was badly designed and drawn, as if Mattotti had nothing to do with her.  As you all now, Mr. Mattotti is famous for his wonderful illustrations, posters and books, so it seems natural that his film would be a masterpiece.

Once the rain stopped, I was able to hit all the parties and play in Lake Annecy.  Even though the film I submitted this year was rejected, I was still able to show four of my films in various non-competitive programs.  The festival showed my classic 2001 short "Eat" in a special program about gastronomy, for example.

Plus, the Spike and Mike documentary "Animation Outlaws", directed by Kat Alioshin, screened to very large crowds, and even though my animation is featured prominently in the film, somehow they forgot to interview me.  But it's a great look at the crazy roadshow called "Sick & Twisted" that toured across the USA for many years.  The doc features such animated greats as John Lasseter, Brad Bird, Pete Docter, Mike Judge, Don Hertzfeldt, Nick Park, Will Vinton and so on.  Unfortunately Mike passed away in the 1990's and the festival doesn't have the energy and weirdness factor that it once had, and it plays in much fewer cities, sad to say.

One of the highlights of the festival, for me, was the Academy party.  A very posh affair, where Bonnie Arnold introduced me to director Dean DeBlois of "How to Train Your Dragon" fame - now he's one of my great heroes.  I was awestruck to meet him, and he was a very friendly guy.  I hope to got back to Annecy next year, and every year after that - if I can get one of my damn films in!

with Dean DeBlois
Back in the USA, last night I attended the East Coast premiere of a music video I directed and designed, called "Wicked World" by the young genius, Matt Jaffe (no relation to Al Jaffee) at the National Sawdust Theater in Brooklyn.  First Matt played a bunch of his other songs - I did some caricatures, showed a clip from my new work-in-progress film, "Slide", then we showed the new music video.  Judging by the reaction from the audience, it was a big hit.  The theater managers seemed to like my work, so I may return to Williamsburg and do my whole show there. I'll certainly let you know when that happens.

The next event I've got coming up is a special screening of all SIX of my infamous "Trump Bites" episodes, at the IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue, NYC next Monday, June 24 at 6:30 pm.  I'll introduce those shorts, plus some of my classics like "Guard Dog" and "Your Face", and we'll do some live demos about how to draw Donald Trump, and then a Q&A with me and "Trump Bites" co-creator Billy Shebar.  Join us to have a good animated time as we make fun of the President!  For tickets and more info:

Here are some more pictures from beautiful Annecy - talk to you next week -


with animator Michael Dudok de Wit (2nd from right)

with Sandrine, Pat Smith and Peter Lord 

with Pat Smith and Sandrine
my son Lucas was selling his own drawings at my table!

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