From Porco Rosso through The Mutants of Space and My Courgette Life.
Last year, the Annecy Festival was unable to celebrate its 60th birthday as it should because of the health crisis. Never mind, the “most beautiful of festivals” is back in 2021, and it is not too late to celebrate the history of this event which has helped to give the animation its letters of nobility. The proof with these ten masterpieces which have, each in their own way, revolutionized the genre.
Porco Rosso by Hayao Miyazaki (1993 Feature Film Crystal)
Japanese animation was still underestimated in the mid-90s. It makes a crazy entrance with this fable which tells of the fights of an anti-fascist pig skimming the sky aboard a red seaplane. Beauty of plans, epic breath, metaphysical surrealism. One of the master’s most beautiful films. So people.
Watch on Netflix
The man who planted trees by Frédéric Back (Cristal from the short film 1987)
After his Oscar for Crac in 1982, the Quebec illustrator Frédéric Back decided to adapt a short story by Jean Giono for the screen which tells the story of a shepherd deciding, just before the First World War, to plant trees in a deserted region. This ecological manifesto, hailed for the beauty of its animation and the quality of the voices – Philippe Noiret in VF – earned Back his second statuette and a triumph in Annecy who discovered there the lyricism and pantheism of an essential work.
The old Man and the Sea by Alexandre Petrov (Short Film Crystal 2000)
Almost abandoning the brushes, the designer Alexandre Petrov, assisted by his young son Dimitri, painted with his fingertips, in shades of colors and shades of blue, these paintings which make up the twenty minutes of a film skillfully mixing creative force and technical prowess. From 24 images per second, the animation passes at the rate of 24 paintings per second.
The Old Lady and the Pigeons by Sylvain Chomet (Cristal short film 1997)
Before The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, Sylvain Chomet got his hands on a short film as fascinating as it is absurd, in which a policeman disguises himself as a pigeon to be fed by an old lady. Everything Chomet is already there, including his obsession with “faces” and bizarre characters. With, here, a little touch of cruelty that brings The Old Lady and the Pigeons from a Grimm’s tale.
Mutants of space by Bill Plympton (2001 Feature Film Crystal)
The consecration of counter-culture and dissent. With this feature film, the infernal Bill Plympton, animation punk, signs a parody of the parody Mars Attacks! or originals War of the Worlds and Independence Day. Sketchy and angular style, reduced animation, anti-establishment fury … in his film, Plymton quickly abandons satire for a surrealism shoot whose goal is clear: to make fun of the conquest of space and more generally Yankee liberalism .
Watch it on VOD on Orange and Univers Ciné
Renaissance by Christian Volckman (Cristal du feature film 2006)
A crazy project at the time which impresses with the breadth of its 3D visions. This anticipatory thriller that summons so many Metropolis than Blade runner intends to pull the animation upwards without going back in front of any difficulty; Volckman dares technological innovation (3D, stammering motion capture), and combines technical bet and big show cinema. A manifesto of the tricolor animation remained strangely without heir.
Watch it on VOD on Orange
Coraline by Henry Selick (Cristal du feature film 2009, tied with Mary and max)
A dose of Lewis Carroll, a hint of GK Chesterton and above all, a raw and terrifying style: this declaration of love to Gothic culture – and to animated films from Eastern countries – captivates with its sense of detail and his creativity. Henry Selick also proved that American animated cinema, far from the Disney mood of the time, could still reconcile artistic radicalism and adult visions.
My life as a Zucchini by Claude Barras (Cristal du feature film 2016)
Based on a screenplay by Céline Sciamma, who adapts the novel here Autobiography of a courgette by Gilles Paris, Claude Barras looks at the world from the height of a child. A very tender film about abandonment, poetic and social at the same time, capable of making people forget the complexity of its device and of distilling raw emotion through its puppets filmed in stop motion. After that, European animation will never be the same.
Watch it on VOD on Orange, FilmoTV, MyTF1 VOD, Bbox VOD, Rakuten TV, Canal VOD and iTunes
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Wes Anderson (2010 Feature Film Crystal)
In 2009, Wes Anderson moved to animation with this adaptation of a short story by Roald Dahl. Like Burton’s volume productions, Mr. Fox synthesizes all the work and all the themes of the author of La Vie Aquatique. Far removed from Hollywood canons, its aesthetic seems more marked by the great Russian masters and also owes a lot to Tati. A lo-fi marvel, dotted with pop musical and cinephilic references, reminding us that animation can also be an alternative playground for the greatest live filmmakers.
Watch on Amazon Prime Video and on VOD
Kirikou and the Witch by Michel Ocelot (Cristal du feature film 1999)
A first animated film, inspired by an African tale with half-naked characters? At the time nobody believed it, and Michel Ocelot had to fight to impose his vision and carry out this wonder of inspiration and design touched by grace. Having become cult over the years, this film which triumphed in Annecy marked above all the birth of a third way between the wave of American cartoons and Japanese works. The made in France had just found its master.
Watch on Netflix, OCS and VOD