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Billed as “the world’s largest event dedicated to animation,” the Annecy International Animation Festival kicked off on a soft note this week to record attendance according to a recent report from Variety, with the French city’s mayor declaring broadly that “the best response to this tragedy is to live strong.” Bigger and denser. It is said that art heals, and the unprecedented crowds at Annecy’s opening night were met with animators “delegations” offering their creative salve from both sides of the Atlantic. The evening featured two shorts and a full-length film joining a schedule highlighting Mexican action as the focus this year, as well as a celebration of Disney World animation.

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The editorial, courtesy of French animation company Sacre Blue, is a “surreal tale of brothers” and magic with a title Sirocco and the Kingdom of the AirstreamsIt was preceded by a North American block of shorts representing the Mexican focus of this year’s festival and this year’s strong studio presence. Mexican animator Ram Tamez presented his short film “Kikiriki” (The Monster) in black and white, followed by the long-awaited premiere of Disney’s new animated short “Once upon a time in the studio.

Related: Why Disney Always Dominates Best Animated Feature in the Oscar Race


If these walls could speak

Disney

“A Passion Project… Started Quick” Courtesy of Directors Dan Abraham and Trent Corey, Disney’s new short film marks the 100th anniversary of The Animation House, and provided an animation showcase for festival-goers given the film’s yet-to-be-clear trajectory from the next distribution vetted. According to Variety, the delightful short “brings more than four hundred characters to life” in less than ten minutes, “throwing hand-drawn, CG, and live-action characters into a stunning mix as they scurry en masse around Roy E. Disney in the Disney Studio Square”. The film reportedly brought back over 40 of the original voice actors from Disney’s animated films for its production and features “a gentle comic mayhem… leading to an emotional set close to the studio’s most iconic song.”

Considered significant to the House of Mouse legacy, the film begins with the posthumous presence of legendary animator Bernie Mattinson, who began with Walt’s House of Animation back in the day. Lady and the Tramp And storyboarded in Disney’s catalog of ’90s Renaissance films, he spent nearly seventy years with the studio before dying in February of Disney’s centennial year. “Boy, if these walls could talk,” Mattinson reportedly declared in the film before lining up the anniversary characters brought to life from Disney studio tires. The film’s co-director Dan Abraham said of the celebratory short: “This is a love letter to the medium, to Disney animators, and it really is a thank you to anyone in the audience who has been associated with film over the past 100 years.”

The centenary film is headlined by Andrew Feliciano’s animation department in CG work and by animation legend Eric Goldberg (of Robin Williams’ character “Jenny” fame) on hand-drawn elements. Disney’s “Once Upon A Studio” will compete for the Grand Prix du Court Métrage along with other short films at the festival.

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