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Annecy Residency Matures – Variety

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For the third year running, Annecy’s artistic residency program accompanied three selected projects on a six-month adventure, beginning with a three-month script workshop before moving to Annecy’s Papeteries Image Factory for a similar bout of tailored mentorships and visual experimentation. At the end, the filmmakers launch their development titles at the MIFA market.

“Often when filmmakers start a project, they are expected to advance too quickly, without the necessary time for reflection and experimentation,” said coordinator Géraldine Baché.  “They have to rush into production because time is money, so we wanted to give them that time, to offer three months to come and explore, to test things and find a kind of visual identity for their project.”

These are the three projects from this year’s selection.

‘The Bird Kingdom’
Lupa Films

“The Bird Kingdom”

Set in a fantasy version of the Brazilian Sertão where men can transform into birds, this 2D young-adult targeting project follows a boy raised by outlaws, left for dead, and then welcomed into a roving theatre-troupe. Director Wesley Rodrigues likens the project to “Princess Mononoke” moved to the arid northeastern Brazil landscape during the early 20th century, and inspired by both Cangaço myths and local ornithology.

Graphically, Rodrigues will build on methods he already explored in his acclaimed shorts, using a handcrafted 2D style with rich colors and vivid brushstrokes. At the Annecy residency, Rodrigues worked with screenwriter Fabienne Gambrelle and Cartoon Saloon co-founder Tomm Moore to explore new ways of animating directly on live elements, honing a new language of shot backgrounds, digitally laid out and animated in 2D.

‘The Bird Kingdom’
Lupa Films

‘Shadow Work’
Raqi Syed and Areito Echevarria

“Shadow Work”

A psychological horror film set in the suburbs of Wellington about a young woman rejected by her family in favor of her own doppelganger, “Shadow Work” is all about confronting, and ultimately embracing, the dark underbelly. Indeed, directors Areito Echevarria and Raqi Syed designed the project to charge straight into the uncanny valley, breaking all the rules they were taught to uphold during their illustrious careers in the VFX industry.

“How can we use the medium of animation and visual effects to do something that’s kind of a bad word in visual effects,” said Syed. “How can we go to uncanny, uncomfortable, and unfamiliar places and use that spectacle in the service of emotional relationships and personal stories?”

The project will use motion capture and real-time rendering, creating 3D images meant to discomfort rather than wow. At the Annecy residency, Echevarria and Syed partnered with screenwriter Patrick Somerville (“Station Eleven,” “Maniac”) and “The City of Lost Children” director Marc Caro to hone the narrative and focus the project’s Jungian scope.  

‘Shadow Work’
Raqi Syed and Areito Echevarria

‘Le Dernier des Cailloux’
Caroline Cherrier

“Le Dernier des Cailloux”

Inspired by the rugged coastline of Brittany, director Caroline Cherrier’s “Le Dernier des Cailloux” (“The Last of the Pebbles”) will invite young audiences to explore a maritime landscape not often romanticized onscreen. “The film is a journey to a nature world that’s a little more hostile, a little more grimy, a little less flowery, a bit more earthy,” says Cherrier.

Using painted 2D, the film will track the friendship between a lonely boy and a sea creature who are both orphans of a sort. Cherrier describes the project as a “children’s monster movie” about learning to let go of certain things and build hope around others, all while luxuriating in a landscape that’s “a little scary, filled with mist, monstrosity, mud, and anything that’s a little slimy and that we don’t often see.”

Anne-Claire Lehembre mentored on story while Benjamin Renner encouraged Cherrier to open the floodgates and let her imagination flow. “I wasn’t looking for a final look, which is really very collaborative,” Cherrier explains. “Instead I used the residency to immerse myself in the project, compiling all the images and interactions and concepts I had into a half graphic novel, half art book. Time for freedom, in fact.”

‘Le Dernier des Cailloux’
Caroline Cherrier



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