Annecy 2020 Online’s second wave of special programming for its world-class French animation festival (June 15-30) will include a preview from the highly anticipated “Connected” (October 23, Sony Pictures Animation), the latest feature from “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, and a Masterclass from stop-motion director Henry Selick and composer Bruno Coulais, who collaborated on Netflix’s upcoming demon comedy, “Wendell & Wild” (2021, produced by Jordan Peele and animated in Portland, Oregon), and Laika’s “Coraline.”
Also in the mix will be discussions with director Dean DeBlois (DreamWorks Animation’s “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy), Disney’s legendary directing duo Ron Clements and John Musker (“Moana,” “The Little Mermaid”), Disney’s chief creative officer/director Jennifer Lee and director Chris Buck on their upcoming Disney+ doc, “Into the Unknown: Making ‘Frozen 2′” (streaming June 26), the art of storyboarding at Cartoon Network Studios (“Summer Camp Island”), a 20th anniversary remembrance of “Chicken Run” with Aardman’s Nick Park and Peter Lord, and a conversation with the Blies Brothers directors about the power of animation for addressing sexual violence in their film trilogy: “Zero Impunity,” “Ghostdance,” “Aimer moins.”
Lord and Miller’s “Connected” continues their mission to push storytelling and stylistic boundaries. Directed by Mike Rianda (creative director of “Gravity Falls”), it’s a comedy about a family combating a tech uprising of all electronic devices, including a new line of personal robots, and centers on the conflict between a nature-loving dad, Rick (Danny McBride of “The Righteous Gemstones”) and his social media-savvy daughter, Katie (voiced by Abbi Jacobson).
The Annecy presentation with Lord and Miller, Rianda, head of story Guillermo Martinez, and production designer/lead character designer Lindsey Olivares will focus on how they’ve been rushing to finish the feature remotely during the pandemic, and how they’ve leveraged the new tools from “Spider-Verse” to juxtapose painterly/watercolor elements in the “human world” with the clean, calculated perfection of the “robot world.” Additionally, it uses 2D pop-up animation for Katie’s POV (internally called “Katie Vision”).
In addition, there will be a work-in-progress presentation of the immersive, VR experience of “Baba Yaga” (from Baobab Studios), a contemporary portrayal of the Eastern European legend inspired by illustrative 2D pop-up animation, and hand-drawn and stop-motion styles. The presentation will be hosted by “Baba Yaga” director and studio co-founder Eric Darnell (“Penguins of Madagascar”) and co-founders Maureen fan, and Larry Cutler. They will additionally participate in a live Q&A on June 23 (9:00 am PST/6:00 pm CET) along with several key creatives.
Two other previews will be devoted to “Yakari,” a children’s adventure about a young Sioux boy and a wild mustang, directed by Xavier Giacometti and Toby Genkel and produced by Dargaud Media, Wunderwerk GMBH, and et Belvision, and distributed by BAC Films; and “La Calesita,” a drama about Argentinian merry-go-round operators, directed by Augusto Schillaci, and produced by Reel FX, the animation studio that worked on “Scoob!.”
The biggest news from the first wave of programming was the announcement that indie feature “Animal Crackers,” which premiered at Annecy in 2017, returns as a making-of program, having been acquired by Netflix (streaming this summer). The CG children’s fantasy, directed by Tony Bancroft (“Mulan”) and Scott Christian Sava, concerns a magical box of cookies coming to the rescue of a rundown circus. It contains voice work by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt, and boasts the work of character designer Carter Goodrich (“Monsters Inc.”).