The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is the world’s largest annual animation festival. Held in Annecy, France, it features competitions and film screenings and also hosts the International Animation Film Market (Mifa). The 42nd festival was held six days from Monday, June 10, to Saturday, June 15, 2019. This column reports the outline of a program presenting the latest trends in Japanese animation through a collaboration between industry, academia and government at the Annecy festival.

Main venue of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019

Japan honored at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019

The Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019 attracted participants from 92 countries, with 205 animated films nominated, 432 works screened in 11 theaters in the city, and 120,000 individual tickets sold during the festival period. It is truly the world’s largest-scale animation festival.

The Annecy festival pays tribute to a different nation each year and holds film screenings and other events featuring the country’s animated films and creators. This year, for the first time in 20 years, Japan was chosen. Japanese classic animation produced from 1917 to 1946 and the latest theater animation films were screened, while legendary animator Yoichi Kotabe was invited as the guest of honor. Koji Yamamura (Animated Short Films) and Yoshiaki Nishimura (Featured Films) were selected as judges.

The Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural Affairs participated in this film festival via its Media Arts Festival’s Overseas Promotion program and held large-scale exhibitions and events to transmit Japanese animation culture. As the director, I had been involved in its planning and operation, along with staff members of the Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO), a program trustee.

Project Theme: NEW MOTION -the Next of Japanese Animation-

Japanese animation is now facing a turning point in the midst of digitalization and globalization. The media environment has also changed significantly, creating new expressions and ways of enjoyment. In setting the featured concept this time, the theme “NEW MOTION: The Next of Japanese Animation” was decided, to convey the animation world’s new motion.

Along with “motion,” which is the theme of animation expressions, we have planned exhibitions, screenings and workshops based on three aspects comprehensively: new creators and initiatives that open up the future of Japanese animation; new technology; and new ways of enjoyment.

For the key visual, Akino Kondoh’s fascinated illustrations depicting a somewhat defiant-eyed girl with the motif of cherry blossoms was adopted. She won the Animation Division’s Excellence Award of the 6th Japan Media Arts Festival and was dispatched to New York in the United States under the program of Overseas Study for Upcoming Artists of the Agency for Cultural Affairs, government of Japan.

The key visual was featured on printed materials including pamphlets, banners, car wrapping and exhibition booths, becoming ubiquitous throughout the city of Annecy during the film festival. Those works were all designed by GK Graphic Incorporated.

Festival banners
The festival’s key visual

‘NEW MOTION Creator’s File 2019’ selected animation creators

The major purpose of NEW MOTION was to introduce the world to great Japanese animation creators, as well as to build a global network. To do this, we made a list of the “NEW MOTION Creator’s File 2019.”

Not only directors, but animators, art directors and producers who will lead the next era of Japanese animation were selected by seven members of the selection committee who have an overview of the world of animation through various viewpoints (*1). A total of 26 were selected. They are part of an up-and-coming new generation of creators whom we are proud of.

We introduced the “NEW MOTION Creator’s File 2019” through various printed materials, including pamphlets. At the MIFA Campus, each work was available to view via iPads, along with each creator’s profile. In addition, selected pieces were screened under two programs, “NEW MOTION: Short Films” and “NEW MOTION: Directors.” Both programs marked great success, with all tickets selling out.

Among the selected 26 creators, 13 attended Annecy and gave greetings from the stage and held talks and workshops at the MIFA Campus (*2). It seems those creators gained something through communication with audiences for their next creations.

Some time ago, Osamu Tezuka visited Annecy and held discussions on animation with passionate audiences and visitors throughout the night. Then, he proclaimed that Annecy was the heaven of this world.

I hope the next generation of Japanese animators learn their lessons of the “world” that Tezuka felt in Annecy the hard way, expand their networks through acquaintances, and produce chemical changes. From this perspective, I hope such participation and the dispatch of people under this program will continue, not just this year.

Four creators took part in a talk session. From left, Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Keita Onishi, Ryo Orikasa, and Sarina Nihei.
List of NEW MOTION Creatorʼs File 2019
name of creators title of works category
Akino Kondoh Ladybirds’ Requiem Animated Short Film
Atsushi Makino Sasanomaly Music Video
Baku Hashimoto imai / Fly feat. 79 (Kaho NAKAMURA) Animated Short Film
Daihei Shibata Unendurable Line/Threshold (The Design Ah! Program on NHK Educational TV) Animated Short Film for TV program
EUPHRATES (Masaya Ishikawa) +Shun Abe Layers Act Animated Short Film
Hiroko Utsumi BANANA FISH TV Animation
Hiroshi Kobayashi DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan TV Animation
Keita Onishi ROCK’N ROLL MARCH / Eiichi Otaki Music Video
Kenichi Yoshida GUNDAM RECONGUISTA IN G TV Animation
Kiyotaka Oshiyama SPACE DANDY: EP18 “THE BIG FISH IS HUGE, BABY” Animated Short Film
Kodai Sato ENGIMON Animated Short Film
Masanobu Hiraoka L’CEil du Cyclone Animated Short Film
Nobuhiro Arai BUNGO STRAY DOGS DEAD APPLE Animated Feature Film
Ryo Hirano PARADISE Animated Short Film
Ryo Orikasa Echo Chamber Animated Short Film
Ryoya Usuha Unfamiliar Ones Animated Short Film
Saku Sakamoto ARAGNE: Sign of Vermillion Animated Feature Film
Sarina NIHEI Rabbit’s Blood Animated Short Film
Sawako Kabuki WAAAH Animated Short Film
Tao TAJIMA Rayons ft. Predawn – Waxing Moon Music Video
Tetsuya Nakatake Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2 TV Animation
Toshiyuki Yahagi PERSONA5 In-Game Animation
Yoko Kuno Airy Me Animated Short Film
Yoriko Mizushiri Veil Animated Short Film
Yoshimi Itazu Pigtails Animated Short Film
Yuji Kaneko* Kill La Kill TV Animation
Creators attended at the festival
*Served as art director for “Kill La Kill”

Four special programs were officially screened at the festival

Under the program “NEW MOTION,” we have showcased four special programs as the festival’s official screenings.

●NEW MOTION: Short Films
Contemporary Japanese animated short films were featured. From narrative to motion graphics, this program called attention to the freedom of Japanese animation’s short films, which are filled with diversity and the potential for experimental ideas.

●NEW MOTION: Directors
Showcased works by the next generation of creators on animated feature films and animated TV films. Works introduced were challenging in their ambitious approaches, even in a series of television programs such as DRAGON PILOT: Hisone & Masotan (2018), which won the Excellence Award of the Animation Division at the 22nd Japan Media Arts Festival, SPACE DANDY Season 2: Episode18 THE BIG FISH IS HUGE, BABY (2014) by Kiyotaka Oshiyama, who singlehandedly did the script writing, directing animation, drawing key frame, visual art setting, character designing and storyboard producing.

●Atsushi Wada Program
Featuring works by Atsushi Wada, an animation artist with a unique perspective. His distinctive outlooks and motions have pulled audiences into his works. After the screening, Wada’s fans from all over the world asked him an endless stream of questions.

●Anime Tamago
“Anime Tamago” is a unique program created by the Young Animator Training Project organized by the Japanese government’s Agency for Cultural affairs. Three works were screened there. Kodai Sato, director of ENGIMON (2018), used papier-mache pieces for his presentation, attracting attention. Tickets for all programs were quickly sold out in advance, as audience members showed a high level of interest in Japanese animation.

The main venue
Q&A session after screening “NEW MOTION: Short Films.” From left, Keita Onishi, Ryoya Usuha, Shun Abe, and Ryo Orikasa.

Animation Boot Camp in Annecy 2019: Creation workshop by Japanese animators

Animation Boot Camp is a workshop in which Japan’s leading animators active in animated feature films and animated TV films teach drawing techniques. Held every year in Japan, this year is the ninth. The workshop has produced a great number of professional animators.

Its Annecy edition was held at Les Papeteries, in the suburbs of the city of Annecy.

Les Papeteries is a facility that the city of Annecy, CITIA and the Gobelins school of animation run jointly. It’s a base comprising an academy where students learn advanced 3DCG techniques during a one-year curriculum, with an incubation facility where graduate students can stay and do their business.

We held a workshop there for 25 young creators and students of Les Papeteries and local art schools.

Lecturers were Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Ryo-timo and Yoshimi Itazu. All three are leading animators representing Japan.

Taking an entire day, students are challenged to draw their own basic movements such as sitting on a chair or lifting up objects. The lectures at the boot camp, where students move their own bodies to observe the movement and express it to others in their own way, had a great impression on the French students. In questionnaires collected after the camp, all attendees indicated that the program was very interesting. Ninety-five percent responded that the workshop would help in their future “very much” and “would help.”

This program was reported on NHK news and other international news multiple times.

Exterior of Les Papeteries
A scene from the Animation Boot Camp

Screening at Château d’Annecy

A live animation concert comprising classical music with state-of-the-art technology and an outdoor screening were held at Château d’Annecy, where people can experience a medieval atmosphere.

●Vivaldi’s Four Seasons Live animation concert
As a new approach to enjoy animation, a collaboration between an orchestra playing live music with an animation screening was held. Produced by the Tokyo University of the Arts, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was created as animated works by four international film artists. This was the concert’s French premiere. The four were: Spring by Anna Budanova (Russia), Summer by Priit and Olga Pärn (Estonia), Autumn by Atsushi Wada (Japan), and Winter by Theodore Ushev (Canada). The concert was performed at the Château d’Annecy Hall. A long line had formed several hours before the opening. As soon as it opened, the hall was fully packed. Members from Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de l’agglomération d’Annecy formed a string quartet unit and cembalo played live music and AI-based animation was screened along with the music. Visitors were delighted with the great harmony of music and animation.

The Four Seasons live animation concert

Lupin the 3rd -The Castle of Cagliostro outdoor screening
Lupin the 3rd -The Castle of Cagliostro (1979) was shown on an outdoor screen set in the front courtyard of the Château d’Annecy. It drew much attention, as the film was screened in France for the first time in public theaters this year. Despite the drizzling rain and chilly temperatures, the audience genuinely enjoyed the screening of the film directed by Hayao Miyazaki as his inaugural directing piece.

The outdoor screening of Lupin the 3rd -The Castle of Cagliostro

MIFA CAMPUS: Lectures by Japan’s foremost animators

At MIFA, “MIFA CAMPUS” is held every year, when leading animation creators hold lectures and workshops for attending students. This year, Kiyotaka Oshiyama, Japan’s leading animator and director, held a workshop on drawing.

Oshiyama has been organizing the Studio Durian Editing Service, a website platform that collects drawings by members of the general public and helps edit each work. He gave a lecture providing a number of actual examples from the platform and explained common problems among beginners. Students listened with enthusiasm. At the end of the lecture, Oshiyama underlined a creator’s attitude that it is important to challenge oneself on what he or she wants to express. He gave the participants great encouragement. Afterward, the students surrounded him to ask an endless stream of questions.

There are a great number of young people overseas who want to learn Japanese animation. From those participants, I expect to see brilliant young members who will become involved in Japanese animation production as staff if we continue to hold these kinds of events and respond to them continuously.

A lecture by Oshiyama at MIFA CAMPUS

‘MIFA Japan Pavilion’ presented films and projects related to video games

At MIFA’s “Japan Pavilion” booth exhibition, each corner featured the concept of NEW MOTION.

At the “NEW MOTION Creator’s File 2019” corner, all featured creators’ profiles and works could be viewed on iPads on the wall. During the event, creators held talks at the pavilion.

At the Atushi Wada corner, the My Marsh (2017) video installation was displayed via a set of four screen monitors. Masaaki Yuasa’s latest work, Ride Your Wave (2019), exhibited its original drawings and storyboards. AR3Bros. exhibited “Digital samples taken from the world of Makoto Shinkai, and reproduction system,” (2018) displayed over spherical surfaces.

As for introducing a new technology, “Project A to G-Creating Animation-Inspired Games” was showcased. Komitsu, Yosuke Tani and Ryoya Usuha were among the artists who exhibited. Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. exhibited a new animated AR and VR production.

Moreover, the Japan Media Arts Festival corner and business space were installed in the pavilion, and many buyers and business persons were gathered there.

We are glad that the new movement of Japanese animation reached people through the MIFA Japan Pavilion.

“NEW MOTION” is a project paying tribute to Japanese animation for the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. This time, the focus was on people, especially the younger generation and held exhibitions, screenings and events under the concept of making the future Japanese animation world more valuable. I look forward to seeing how this will bear fruit in the near future. In order to develop Japanese animation more globally, continuous efforts, rather than a one-year program, is required. Above all, it is necessary to have a human-resource development program that enables younger creators to gain international experience. Mid- and long-term strategic planning and development in international culture and industry are critically required now.

A booth of “MIFA Japan Pavilion”
An artist talk at the Japan Pavilion. Yuji Kaneko, one of “NEW MOTION Creator’s File 2019” presenters, is third from the left.

(notes)
*1
The selection committee for New Motion comprised the following seven members.
Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (Producer), Shinji Kawamura (Creative Director), Shinji Seya (Animator), Nobuaki Doi (Festival Director), Masahiko Minami (Producer), Koji Yamamura (Animation Artist), Mitsuko Okamoto (NEW MOTION Director)

*2
13 creators who attended the Annecy festival were marked in the listing.


(information)
The Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019
Period: Monday, June 10, through Saturday, June 15, 2019
Venue: Theaters and other locations in the city of Annecy, France
Annecy Festival official site: http://www.annecy.org/home
Annecy International Animation Film Festival 2019: https://jmaf-promote.jp/1.html

*URL links were confirmed on May 8, 2020.