The 60th-anniversary edition of Annecy won’t throw the spotlight one country, instead, it will honour an entire continent: Africa! African Animation will be in the limelight at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the biggest and most prestigious animation festival in the world!
The selection marks the latest step forward in Annecy’s growing collaboration with African animators. 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
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. This has grown since to include several pitching competitions at events across the continent including ICON Comics & Games Convention, DISCOP Abidjan, Accra Animation Film Festival, Nairobi Comic Convention, Lagos Comic Convention and DISCOP Johannesburg.
Africa as the official spotlight territory is big news with enormous implications and opportunities. We reached out to a number of players in the African Animation industry, including animators, festival directors and producers for their thoughts on how this honour will impact African Animation in the long term.
The world is hungry for different types of content and Africa is well-positioned to deliver on that!Dianne Makings
The quote from Dianne Makings sums up the general thoughts of these industry players. Their thoughts are presented below.
Comfort Arthur – (director FUPiTOONS Festival, animator & comic book artist, The Comfy Studio, Ghana)
I think this is the beginning of something special for the Animation Industry in Africa.
For some time now it has been tricky for many African animators to showcase their works on international platforms.
But now that we are having a spotlight for 2020 it will not only provide exposure but potential collaborations with studios outside the borders of Africa.
Eugene Ramirez Mampondera (animator and comic book publisher, Eugemedia, Zimbabwe)
The decision to have African animation as a focus of Annecy 2020 is an incredible opportunity for the African animation industry. I think it’s not only a chance to prove we can produce animated films for the festival circuit but its a chance to become more visible to western producers and investors.
There are a number of unique technical and creative approaches that have led to outstanding animation coming out of Africa and I believe that highlighting this will convince the international audience that African animation is not just another collection of foreign language films or inferior productions. I also think this opens the door for African student films and shorts to be considered for larger international festivals and awards.
Vanessa Ann Sinden (award-winning animation producer, Triggerfish Animation, South Africa)
The focus of Annecy 2020 being on the African Animation Industry just confirms what we already know, Africa has talent! Now we need more international opportunities!
Over the last 10 years, I have seen such a shift in thinking from broadcasters and investors and I am so happy that there has been a lot of disruption in the way in which audiences can access and consume content. This bursts open the doors allowing creators, who typically would never have fit into a mainstream model, the opportunity to share their stories.
With Annecy spotlighting African creators next year I can only see this fueling our current momentum. I am extremely positive about the talent, the guts, the passion and the determination of African artists and producers. I am just concerned that all players in this space i.e. Government agencies, funding bodies, etc are not all aligned in growing our industry in a balanced and healthy way.
Without investor confidence that Africa can deliver high-quality content in well-managed studios, diverse content will not be produced. Without this business confidence, opportunities will move on to other emerging countries with just as interesting and diverse stories to tell.
Opportunities for creators will not go further than an idea without development and investor confidence! Creating animation is a collaborative exercise and can be so inclusive if you have had the opportunity to study it. Our industry will also not grow if talents are not given opportunities to study and then work on projects.
Here’s hoping that the spotlight on Africa will allow our industry to grow holistically in a way to sustain steady growth for more than just short term bursts!
Viva Annecy! Viva Animation
Bertil Toby Svanekiaer (animator, 3D generalist, Indigene BROS, Ghana)
It doesn’t get bigger than Annecy. For Africa to be the focus for their 60th anniversary, that’s a big deal.
I was privileged to be there with the rest of the Indigene BROS team when the announcement was made at Annecy. We have very talented animators from different countries all over Africa. This is an opportunity for us to share our culture and to tell our stories from our perspective. Time to change the narrative.
Kabelo Maaka (animator, illustrator at Cabblow Studios, South Africa)
I think it is an exciting time for African Animation as a whole. As much as our continent has its own socio-economic trials, we are a persevering and resourceful continent! The fact that Africa is a focus territory for Annecy 2020 is a sign that our stories matter and need to be told.
There are some new & innovative projects that I’ve seen coming from Africa that could really change how the world sees the medium of animation. The pressure is on!
As a studio owner, I suspect that the opportunities for international collaboration will increase and as an animation lecturer this gives me hope for the future career prospects of my students.
Hopefully, this could lead to more co-productions, distribution deals and just overall greater exposure for our continent and perhaps more internal collaboration between our countries as well. We watch cartoons too!
Dianne Makings (director, Cape Town International Animation Festival, South Africa)
The announcement that Africa was going to be the focus territory at the Annecy Animated International Film Festival in 2020 certainly created a huge buzz in all the studios in South Africa. It’s exciting that Africa is starting to be recognised globally as a quality content provider, with unique stories, fresh art styles and studios that are nimble and efficient.
One lesson I’ve learnt from all our international guests that attend CTIAF is that they’re quite unaware of the cultural differences between the countries in Africa. We’re perceived as one homogenous area.
I see this as an incredible strength and advantage when pitching stories. The more specific you can make your story, the more likely you’ll be able to deliver something new and fresh. We have stories and myths that they have literally never heard before – and this is exciting to them – and a great chance for us to differentiate ourselves in the market.
If ever there was a time to attend the festival it’s in 2020, so I hope that everyone is working on their pitches and gearing up for submission because it’s a perfect time to participate in the festival. There are several ways to be shortlisted for the Animation du Monde pitching competition through various festivals throughout Africa. The world is hungry for different types of content and Africa is well-positioned to deliver on that!
Debo “Sen” Adeaga (founder, Animation West Africa Network, Nigeria & UK)
This sounds like some good development although, it’s not entirely a new initiative, it’s only getting more attention and focus for 2020.
What is certain is that it would bring more people to the knowledge that animations can be done and is in fact done very well in Africa. My shared sentiment with Nkoro Anselem, another AWA member is that, this could be another way forward as it has potentials for bridging the gap between “industry artist” and “freelance/newbies” because once the outside world sees and decides that they want to embrace what they have seen, it would not matter if the content was produced by the known, established setups or the individual freelance or newbies, it will be all about the content and this has in other ways created the exposure for such artists/animators.
I must add however that this on the flip side could usher in a new form of ‘exploitation’, however notwithstanding the history of France dealings with Africa in the geopolitical realm, if this new Africa animation focus is done for the right reasons and in sincerity, the exploitative opportunity that it creates wouldn’t be a concern as the focus on Africa will help create a marketable space for content creators and artists (2D or 3D).
I only hope the organizers work with Animation managers of platforms like AWA Foundation or Animation West Africa Network Community as then it will truly be Africa focused touching the lives of those artists who ordinarily can’t be reached or attracted.
Diana Maria Rossu (director, Accra Animation Film Festival, Ghana & Romania)
I’m delighted to see that Africa and African creatives are getting the spotlight they deserve! There are so many interesting stories here ready to be shared with the world! The fact that Annecy declared a spotlight on Africa in 2020 will definitely promote global visibility to everyone in the African animation industry and I believe will drive more international investors and stakeholders to consider promoting and investing in African content.
Cover illustration courtesy Kariba – The Graphic Novel by Blue Forest Collective.
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)
KaDi Yao Tay
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