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Flanders in the spotlight at the annecy festival

19 juni 2007
Filmmakers, animation studios and production companies from Flanders received a lot of attention at the International Animated Film Festival in Annecy this year. With a focus on the Benelux, Flanders was one of the hosts of the opening night party of MIFA, the International Animated Film Market. Mr. Jos Aelvoet, the official representative of the Flanders Government in France, welcomed the guests together with his colleagues from The Netherlands, Luxembourg and the French-speaking Belgian Community. The party was attended by all the key players in the animated film industry in Flanders.
The day following the opening of MIFA, the four Benelux partners jointly presented the BeNeLux Coproduction Day. After a working lunch, some 80 people attended a workshop which was aimed at giving information about the know-how and the attractive environment of the BeNeLux animation sector. The Flanders Audiovisual Fund (VAF) presented a showreel highlighting a wide array of recent and upcoming animation productions, followed by a brief introduction to its operation. Finally, the new website was officially launched. At the festival itself, audiences were able to discover the variety of animated films made in Flanders on several occasions. At the Bonlieu festival centre for instance, a selection of recent animated shorts and trailers was presented to a S.P.O. auditorium. The audience could admire the poetry of films like Bruised from Sandy Claes and laughed out loud when little comical masterpieces such as Flatlife came along. Also, seven titles from Flanders were selected for the Official Selection at Annecy. For the participants from Flanders, this year's festival proved a valuable experience. 'It is interesting in a number of ways', said Frederic Dirickx from production company Walking the Dog. 'You can look out for young talent, you watch some films and stay in touch with what's going on in animation, and finally you are able to pick up some practical tips at a conference. Very down to earth matters, such as the maximum number of people you should allocate to one supervisor in order to keep the work going smoothly. You know such things more or less from your personal experience, but nevertheless it is very interesting for me'. For Geert Van Asbroeck of DeFamilieJanssen Motionworks, Annecy helps a great deal to renew 'old' contacts: 'We used to work a lot as a subcontractor for French companies. When companies disappear, you sometimes loose contact with the people you were working with. At a place like this, you bump into them again and find out all about their new working environment.' Ben Tesseur from Beast Animation, working on the feature length version of the immensely popular series A Town Called Panic, also made good use of his time at Annecy to renew old contacts and meet new people. Will A Town Called Panic be the prize winner at next year's festival? 'I really don't know', says Ben. 'This year's official festival trailer, a 'Panic' short, was very well received and I think the feature length film will stand a chance for the audience award next year. The pilot of the TV series already won an award in Annecy. But for the jury prize, it is hard to know which criteria they will use. A lot depends on the moment and on the spirit of the festival.'