On Wednesday, June 12, the Annecy Festival announced that 2020’s country of honour won’t be a country at all, but rather an entire continent: Africa. At next year’s Annecy International Animation Film Festival, African animation will be thrown into the spotlight. An emerging territory in the animation game, Africa impressed MIFA head Véronique Encrenaz.
The presence of African studios and artists is ever higher at Mifa. We would like to showcase it further by creating a special pavilion, as well as a series of meetings and project presentations.Véronique Encrenaz
Nick Wilson, head of projects and content at the African Animation Network (AAN), an open-network platform for African animators and industry associations, said the announcement is further proof that African animators are ready for their close-up.
The African Animation Network is seeing exponential growth in the African animation industry. Bringing the whole continent into sharp focus as part of the Africa 2020 Season at Annecy next year was something that was unfathomable just six months ago, let alone three years ago when we launched AAN. I know that the announcement is going to reverberate across the continent.Nick Wilson
The selection marks the latest step forward in Annecy’s growing collaboration with African animators. In 2017, Annecy’s International Animation Film Market (MIFA) partnered with the African Animation Network (AAN) and the DISCOP content market to launch the first pan-African pitching competition for animators, with two winners selected each year to compete with eight other projects at Animation du Monde.
Through its DISCOMICS footprint– an initiative run by DISCOP Markets and AAN – and which includes partnerships with three of Africa’s longest-running comic conventions, AAN has hosted two out of the four regional prelims in Johannesburg (at ICON CGC) and Abidjan (DISCOP Abidjan). Lagos (at Lagos Comic Con) and Nairobi (Nairobi Comic-Con) will happen later in the year.
Because the partners are always looking to create new opportunities for creators across Africa, AAN has also partnered with the Accra Animation Film Festival (AAFFia) to add a fifth regional prelim. In July, the maiden Accra Animation Film Festival will host the MIFA pitches for the first time in Ghana, increasing the visibility of the pitching competition on the continent, and offering African animators more options to pitch their projects.
Another positive development was the announcement of the first international service job for Nigeria’s growing animation industry. Episodes of the Chinese animated TV series “Wool Wool Town” will be produced in Lagos by a collective of eight studios comprising more than 50 animators, a project – secured in partnership with Animation Nigeria and India’s Toonz Media Group – that will keep the studios busy for the next 10 months or more.
Also, Kenya’s Seventy Two Media, in partnership with the AAN, announced the inaugural African Animation Awards, which will celebrate achievement in the pan-African animation industry. The first edition will be held this October in Nairobi.
It was also announced at the festival that Netflix is teaming up with Paris-based Gobelins School of Images on an initiative to offer as many as ten African students per year full scholarships to the prestigious academy.
“We tried to think of where we were not hearing the voices of the world in animation as much as in other places, so we started with the idea of the African continent,” explained Melissa Cobb, Netflix VP of Kids & Family, adding, “we want to see how we can grow the talent, because the talent from that area hasn’t had access to this kind of education.”
In April the platform announced its first African animated series, the superhero series “Mama K’s Team 4,” stills of which were shown by director Malenga Mulendema at Netflix’s Studio Without Frontiers presentation. In its theme – four teen girls are with to save the world and painterly shots of the Zambian capital Lusaka, it has little to envy of production in Europe.
Annecy Int. Animated Film Festival & Market
Festival International du Film d’Animation d’Annecy was created in 1960 and takes place at the beginning of June in the town of Annecy, France. Initially occurring every two years, the festival became an annual event in 1998. It is one of the four international animated film festivals sponsored by the Association Internationale du Film d’Animation/ASIFA and is arguably the most prestigious animation festival globally. (Read more HERE)
Each year, the MIFA Pitches showcase the best in original animation projects in their first phase of development in four categories: feature films, short films, TV series and specials and Interactive Creations & Transmedia. Open on an international level, the selection reflects young creation on the world scene.