Annecy Unveils Anime-Heavy Competition Lineup and Special Presentations for ‘Inside Out,’ ‘Moana,’ ‘Despicable Me’ Sequels

Organizers of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the world’s oldest and most important animation festival, revealed Thursday that all the big U.S. studio animation players will be in attendance this year to preview some of their most exciting upcoming titles.

Annecy has long been a launch point for global and indie animation, but over the past several years, it has become an increasingly important platform for big studios as well. This year, that trend continues and, indeed, ramps up.

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Disney will host sneak peeks of its 2024 animated feature releases: Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” and Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Moana 2.” Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Animation Studio will offer a preview of “Transformers One,” a new animated feature coming to theaters on Sept. 20 this year.

Illumination will host a sneak preview of “Despicable Me 4,” which is a bit of a surprise as many expected the film to screen in its entirety at the French fest. The three previous “Despicable” films and the “Minions: The Rise of Gru” spinoff all screened at Annecy, several of them making their world premieres there.

For anyone who may have missed Annecy’s previous announcements, the festival has already revealed that “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Isle of Dogs” director Wes Anderson will be at this year’s event to host a masterclass, that iconic Disney director Chris Sanders will be there to tease his upcoming DreamWorks film “The Good Robot,” and that Annecy 2024 will feature an all-new non-competitive section, Annecy Presents, that will be ideal for big-budget commercial films that don’t have a place in its competition sidebars.

Netflix also previously announced it will be in Annecy to host early looks at Zack Snyder’s “Twilight of the Gods” and an untitled “Wallace & Gromit” project, as well as the world premiere of “Ultraman: Rising.”

At today’s conference, it was also revealed that iconic filmmaker and Monty Python alumn Terry Gilliam will receive the 2024 Honorary Cristal and host a masterclass on Sunday, June 9. Gilliam, the filmmaker, is best known for his decades-long live-action catalog that features some of the most unique and oft-imitated films such as “12 Monkeys,” “Brazil” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” That said, he also worked on some unforgettable animated sequences during his time with Monty Python, and his 1968 animated short “Storytime” is a classic that came out the same year as George Dunning’s “Yellow Submarine” and had a similarly profound impact on the British animation scene at that time.

Annecy Builds

During the Thursday press conference, Annecy organizers explained how the festival has grown over recent editions, and how they plan to accommodate more guests.

Last year, Annecy expanded its festivities from six to seven days. The growth was necessary, as the event hosted a record 15,820 accredited badge holders, a 19% increase from 2022. This year’s festival will also feature a full week of programming over June 9-15.

To further accommodate the incredible number of attendees, Annecy will occupy four more theaters at the Pathé Annecy multiplex this year and start screening films at 8:30 a.m. in the Bonlieu, the festival’s central hub.

Below, we summarize the key announcements from today’s press conference, including the festival’s full Feature Competition, Contrechamp competition, and non-competitive Special Screenings lineups.

Competition Lineups

Michael Hazanavicius’ “The Most Precious of Cargoes” will open this year’s Annecy Festival before screening in this year’s main competition section. The film takes place during World War II and tells the story of a French Jewish family that is deported to Auschwitz. On the train to the camp, the father desperately throws one of his twins out into the snow, where a childless Polish couple discovers him.

At first glance, this year’s Annecy feature and Contrechamp competition lineups look as strong as any in recent memory. The selected films all come in with a great deal of buzz, and picking out a potential favorite in either category feels like a fool’s errand. The jury will surely have its work cut out for it this year.

France, always a key contributor to Annecy’s main competition lineup, has five features in this year’s field. Home-country titles looking to make an impact include “Flow” from Gints Zilbalodis, which hosted a Work-in-Progress panel at last year’s festival; “A Boat in the Garden” from 2019 Annecy Honorary Cristal recipient Jean-François Laguionie; “Into the Wonderlands” from Alexis Ducord, whose “Zombillénium” opened Annecy in 2017; “Ghost Cat Anzu” from Yoko Kuno, which was a hit during a WIP session at last year’s festival; and the aforementioned “The Most Precious of Cargoes.”

Japan has four films of its own in the main competition – “Ghost Cat” is a France-Japan co-production – and matches the host country by scoring a fifth competition spot in this year’s Contrechamp section.

The country’s main competition contingent includes the Japanese Academy-nominated “Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window” from Shinnosuke Yakuwe, a filmmaker who has found incredible commercial success directing films in the “Doraemon” series.

According to Jean, “It will remind you of ‘Grave of the Fireflies.’ When the selection committee finished our viewing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. It will be the real tear-jerker of the festival.”

Naoko Yamada, an experienced film and TV anime director at Kyoto Animation, will compete with her film “The Colors Within,” about a girl who can see colors in people’s hearts and joins a band. Former Studio Ghibli artist Yoshiyuki Momose’s “The Imaginary,” acquired by Netflix in a larger overall deal with Studio Ponoc earlier this year, will world premiere in competition at Annecy before debuting on the platform on July 5.

Gō Koga’s “The Birth of Kitaro: The Mystery of Gegege,” which opened at number two in Japan when it was released last November, will compete in the Contrechamp section.

Australian filmmaker Adam Elliot returns to Annecy this year with his latest stop-motion feature, “Memoir of a Snail.” In 2003, his eventual Oscar-winning short film “Harvie Krumpet” won a trio of prizes at Annecy, and in 2009, the filmmaker won the best feature Cristal with his modern classic “Mary and Max.”

Claude Barras provides the lineup’s second stop-motion feature with the hugely-anticipated “Sauvages!” Barras’ previous film, “My Life as a Zucchini, won the Annecy Cristal for best feature in 2016 and received an Oscar, BAFTA, César, European Film Awards, and Annie nominations in the following months.

Spaniard María Trénor’s “Rock Bottom” may be one of the coolest films in this year’s main competition, loaded with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Zhigang Yang, more commonly referred to as Busifan (“The Guardian”), will compete in this year’s main lineup with his second feature, “The Storm,” a breathtaking epic animated in a Chinese ink painting style that got a very limited theatrical run earlier this year.

Main Competition

“Ghost Cat Anzu,” Yoko Kuno (Japan, France)

“Into the Wonderwoods,” Alexis Ducord (France, Luxembourg)

“Flow,” Gints Zilbalodis (Latvia, Belgium, France)

“The Colors Within,” Naoko Yamada (Japan)

“Totto-Chan: The Little Girl at the Window,” Shinnosuke Yakuwe (Japan)

“Memoir of a Snail,” Adam Elliot (Australia)

“Rock Bottom,” María Trénor (Spain, Poland)

“Sauvages!” Claude Barras (Switzerland)

“A Boat in the Garden,” Jean-François Laguionie (France)

“The Imaginary,” Yoshiyuki Momose (Japan)

“The Storm,” Zhigang “Busifan” Yang (China)

“The Most Precious of Cargoes,” Michael Hazanavicius (Belgium, France)

Contrechamp standouts include “Pelikan Blue,” Hungary’s first-ever animated documentary feature; “The Glassworker,” Pakistan’s first traditionally animated 2D feature, and Carl Joseph Papa’s “The Missing,” which was the Philippines submission to last year’s International Feature Oscar category.

Isabel Huergera’s “Sultana’s Dream” debuted in the main competition at last year’s San Sebastián International Film Festival, a rare feat for an animated film; Yves Netzhammer’s stripped-down CG feature “Journey of Shadows” looks unlike anything else screening in competition; and Nick Johnson’s “Sunburnt Unicorn” offers up brightly-colored fantasy epic that many will be seeing for the first time.

David Baute’s “Black Butterflies” chronicles the stories of three women fleeing terrain made uninhabitable by a change in climate, and “Gill” is the latest from Jae-huun Ahn, who won Annecy’s Contrechamp competition in 2020 with his film “The Shaman Sorceress.”

Contrechamp Competition

“Sultana’s Dream,” Isabel Huergera (Spain)

“Gill,” Jae-huun Ahn (South Korea)

“The Missing,” Carl Joseph Papa (Philippines)

“Living Large,” Kristina Dufkova (Czech Republic)

“Black Butterflies,” David Baute (Spain, Panama)

“Our Crazy Love,” Nelson Botter Jr. (Brazil)

“Pelikan Blue,” László Csáki (Hungary)

“Journey of Shadows,” Yves Netzhammer (Switzerland)

“Sunburnt Unicorn,” Nick Johnson (Canada)

“The Birth of Kitaro: The Mystery of Gegege,” Gō Koga (Japan)

“The Glassworker,” Usman Riaz (Pakistan)

New Screening Program

This year, Annecy is launching a completely new non-competitive screening program for films that don’t quite fit into either of its competition sections but that it would like to showcase. This section is where big U.S. studio films and commercially successful features from around the world will be made available to Annecy attendees.

Many of the films in the Annecy Presents section will be making their French debuts, including Sony Pictures Animation’s “The Garfield Movie” and TMS’s Japanese mega-hit “Detective Conan: The Million-Dollar Pentagram” — the 27th film in the prolific anime franchise — which just had Japan’s second-best theatrical opening of all time earlier this month.

Other exciting titles from the new section include Mascha Halberstad’s “Fox and Hare Save the Forest,” a standout at Cartoon Movie 2023; Denver Jackson’s “The Worlds Divide,” an independent feature the filmmaker animated entirely by himself; and “Sand Land,” adapted from “Dragon Ball” creator Akira Toriyama’s manga of the same name.

Annecy Presents

“Buffalo Kids,” Juan “Galo” Galocha, Pedro Solís (Spain)

“Detective Conan: The Million-Dollar Pentagram,” Nagaoka Chika (Japan)

“Diplodocus,” Wojtek Wawszczyk (Poland)

“Extinction,” Behnoud Nekooei (Malaysia)

“Fox and Hare Save the Forest,” Mascha Halberstad (Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium)

“Give it All,” Yuhei Sakuragi (Japan)

“The Garfield Movie,” Mark Dindal (U.S.A.)

“Christmas Tales of Christmas Magic,” Camille Alméras, Caroline Attia Larivière, Ceylan Beyoglu, Haruna Kishi, Natalia Chernysheva, Olesya Shchukina (France, Germany)1

“Out of the Nest,” Arturo Hernandez (Thailand, China)

“Sand Land,” Toshihisa Yokoshima (Japan)

“The Sloth Lane,” Tania Vincent, Ricard Cussó (Australia)

“The Worlds Divide,” Denver Jackson (Canada)

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