Magazine article Variety

Gallic Gathering Runs Global Gamut

Magazine article Variety

Gallic Gathering Runs Global Gamut

Article excerpt

Anyone wanting to take the measure of animation trends need only look at the range of films screening at Annecy.

The yearly festival in the French countryside is attracting a broad swath of animation, from big studio releases like Universal/Illumination's "The Secret Life of Pets" and Disney/Pixar's "Finding Dory" to personal, indie efforts of every length and style.

This year's festival is placing special focus on French animators, for whom Annecy is a traditional mecca."The French were early adopters of computer animation," says Illumination Entertainment chief Chris Meledandri, who'll unveil "The Secret Life of Pets" at the festival. When that film's credits roll, the role of French artists will be apparent, and their contributions have continued to rise since Universal/ Illumination purchased the Paris-based studio Mac Guff in 2011. "Mac Guff started at 100 people and today it's at 850," says Meledandri.

Meledandri points to significant demographic trends that show audiences for animated films are expanding beyond the parents-with-kids demo. "The appetite for animated films is growing in a manner that can support a growing talent pool. When you see the films that are being made internationally, you realize there isn't one type of storytelling anymore."

That's especially evident in the types of independent animated features that have been chosen to screen in competition at Annecy. Notable among them is "Nuts!" a Sundance award-winning documentary that mixes live action and animation to relate the bizarre tale of crackpot surgeon John Romulus Brinkley. Back in 1917, Brinkley claimed he could cure impotence by grafting goat testicles onto men. Filmmaker Penny Lane, who'd previously directed the documentary "Our Nixon," engaged various animators to visualize many crazy aspects of Brinkley's contentious ideas. …

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