After three years without an in-person event, MIFA kicked off in Annecy with its traditional festival and market. While the premiere of "Minions: Rise of Gru" was the first highlight of the show, all the attendants agree that the best feeling the event brings back is the chance to have personal meetings and the revamp of the networking and creative exercise for the whole animation industry.
MIFA will take place until next Friday, entirely in person, and expectations are high. All signs are leaning towards high attendance, including top US studios like Disney, Pixar, and DreamWorks already revealing an action-packed schedule of events and even Netflix joining the party for the first time ever. "I would like to remind you of our state of mind while working these past several months. I believe that we wanted to get back together fully and completely, to reconnect with the soul of this festival, which is really built on the encounters and exchanges that happen here, and to make movie theaters pulsate with the passion of animation once again. We wanted this edition to be a firework display of creativity and diversity, to affirm the explosion of the animated film industry that we are proud to serve,” Mickaël Marin, Director of Citia, the institution that organizes the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and MIFA, stated.
During the first day of MIFA, there were some significant launches. First, Mediawan announced a new Kids & Family business division. The new arm will recruit French and international talent and bring Mediawan’s labels together under one banner specializing in youth content. Moreover, Meredith Roberts has been promoted to Executive Vice President, TV Animation at Disney Branded Television, recognizing her outstanding creative and operational oversight of the Disney Television Animation studio during a period of significant growth. The studio has 1200 half-hours of animated content currently in production for Disney's streaming and linear platforms.
At the same time, Millimages has confirmed during the start of MIFA that the first three seasons of "Molang" and "Piu Piu" are now available for all passengers of Air France, Korean Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, and OuiGo trains in Spain and France. Moreover, Molotov's platform “Mango” purchased a large selection of Millimages' content, including "Corneil & Bernie," "Homiez," "Louie, Mouk," and more. With over 13 million users, Molotov launched 2020 a new AVOD platform, Mango, that had a 65% growth in 2021 and over 3 million subscribers.
At the same time, MIFA's first day included presentations from the acquisitions departments from The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount Global Kids, BBC, and Globouiting teams. Attendees also had the chance to assist to "Meet the Publishers," "Meet the Composers," "Discover Korean Animation," and "Head Back to the future of VR" sessions during the day.
Another highlight of the day was the Annecy Festival Residency press conference, where Mickaël Marin, Director of CITIA, Sophie Rotkopf, Vice-President Culture and Heritage for the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Myriam Lhuillier, Vice-President Culture and Heritage for the Haute-Savoie Department, and Karen Toliver, Vice-President Animated Film at Netflix, presented the report regarding this second residency as well as the long-term prospects provided by their partnerships.
Helmed by Mickaël Marin, the Annecy Festival Residency is one element in the continuity of the activities conducted by CITIA through the Annecy International Animation Film Festival, the Mifa (International Animation Film Market), and the development of creative industries on the territory and worldwide. On an international scale, it is designed to assist directors of animation feature films in their graphic development phase.
Netflix has confirmed its 3-year commitment as a partner of the Annecy Festival Residency. As for the Région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes and the Haute-Savoie Department, they have confirmed their involvement in assisting and supporting the creation and their aspiration to encourage the emergence of projects linked with local animation players. Furthermore, Géraldine Baché, coordinator of the Annecy Festival Residency, thanked all the other partners, whether institutions such as the DRAC and the CNC or technical such as MSI, Wacom, ToonBoom, and TVPaint who provided the project leaders with their technological tools and expertise.
The current residency, running from 4th April to 30th June 2022, has allowed the winners to report on their project's progress, seek new partners through the Mifa network, and inspire new applicants. The directors of the selected projects, "Dino Doom on the Desert Planet" (Zsuzsanna Kreif & Balázs Turai, Hungary), "Hanta" (Emilio Ramos, Mexico,) and "Deep Fake" (Ismaël Joffroy Chandoutis France) closed this conference by sharing their experience and revealing the result of their residency work.
MIFA 2022 honors Switzerland as the event's country of honor with a dense and comprehensive thematic schedule for the whole week. "First of all, it should be known that most filmmakers and directors in Switzerland double as technicians and producers. The industry is also mainly driven by short films. Moreover, short formats are favored by those who finance and invest in animated projects. However, new laws coming into force in 2024 will require streamers to invest in our animated creations, which will hopefully generate a renewed interest in these types of productions. These formats are essential for the continued development of our country's animation sector," Elie Chapuis, Co-president of the Swiss Animation Film Group, stated.
Another big news discussed around MIFA was Disney's decision to send its upcoming animated title "Strange World" straight to its Disney+ platform and cancel its planned November 23rd release date in France. The move is a significant blow to the country’s recently revamped media windowing and has brought some disappointment to local distributors and movie theater owners.
By Diego Alfagemez, from Annecy