I had the privilege of attending Annecy 2013 this year on behalf of Focal Press. My typical conference experience usually revolves around manning a hot booth for a few hours with my insanely smart, sweaty, and patient colleagues. Don’t get me wrong, I love booth duty. I get to meet all sorts of interesting and talented artists who tell me what they love about our books. Some even offer some criticism about specific titles or our overall catalog, but it’s always helpful and constructive. There is always room for improvement, and we always strive to do right by our readers. I’m not an animator—not even close. My severe lack of drawing skills would be enough to make any artist cringe. I am, however, an editor for animation books, and I’m lucky enough to be inspired by animators almost every day.
Focal Press did not have a booth at Annecy (though we did have a presence in the bookstore across from Café Carnot), so my days were filled with meetings, conference sessions, and MIFA activities. My nights, like many other attendees, were dedicated to the screenings. I didn’t really know what to expect, but I knew that I would be entertained at the very least. After seeing what I saw, the word “entertained” sounds inappropriate if not even a little condescending.
The first night I attended a screening of short films in competition 02. Everyone seemed to have first night excitement—hushed whispers in all languages filled the Decavision, along with a variety of animal noises (cat, mainly) and the whooshing of paper airplanes. I quickly figured out that throwing paper airplanes toward the screen was a playful Annecy tradition—another small quirk that only magnified the charm of this festival.
Anyway, before I ramble on too much, my point is that although this was not a traditional conference for me, it was by far the most inspirational. Witnessing such talent only makes me want to be a better editor that develops great books for the animation community. In no particular order, below are my top five favorite animated shorts from Annecy. It was extremely difficult to narrow it down—choosing five felt unfair. But I managed, and here they are! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Please note that many of these are only trailers in accordance with festival rules. Unfortunately I was not able to attend all of the screenings, so if you have a favorite, must-see short, let me know! Animation for all!
Title: Chemin Faisant
Director: George Schwizgebel
Swiss animator Georges Schwizgebel is renowned for his use of paint-on-glass animation. In his latest short film, Chemin Faisant, we are lead through vibrant paintings which operate as Russian dolls, sweeping us through the thoughts of a solitary walker.
Title: Drunker Than A Skunk
Director: Bill Plympton
An adaptation of Walt Curtis’s poem, “The Time The Drunk Came To Town And Got Drunker Than A Skunk, or So He Thought.”, about a Cowboy town that torments the local drunk. What can I say? It’s Bill. Beautifully drawn and wickedly funny, what else could you want?
Director: Daniel Sousa
A wild boy is found in the forest by a hunter and is brought back to civilization. Alienated by his new environment, the boy begins to use the same strategies that kept him alive in the forest.
Title: La Banquet de la concubine
Director: Hefang Wei
It’s the year 746 under the Tang dynasty, the most culturally rich period of China’s history. The emperor, Li, beholds a court of numerous concubines and the most precious is Yang. Despite the gorgeous artwork (the coloring in particular), I couldn’t help but feel a sense of dread as the story progressed. By far one of my favorites!
Title: Subconscious Password
Director: Chris Landreth
Subconcious Password won the Cristal for Best Short, so congratulations to Chris Landreth!
This film is about the misadventures of Charles, a friendly guy who meets up with a friend whose name escapes him. We then are given front row seats to Charles’ subconscious, which takes the form of a game show. It’s a painfully hilarious portrayal of something we’ve all been through!