Ghibli to give master-class at lakeside Annecy International Animation Festival.

Japanese animator Isao Takahata will make a rare international appearance this week at the 38th Annecy International Animation Festival which opens today [June 9] with The Tale of Princess Kaguya, the first feature overseen by the Studio Ghibli co-founder in more than a decade.

The 78-year animator will give a master-class at the festival on Tuesday in which he will discuss his 50-year career that began at Toei Animation in the 1970s where he met long-time collaborator and Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

The master-class is part of a packed programme of talks and conferences at the lakeside animation festival, running June 9-14, a key date in the calendar for professionals and students from across the animation world.

Other highlights include a sneak preview of by Monsters Inc. director Pete Docter of his upcoming Pixar-produced Inside Out. The film, probing inside the human mind, is set for release in June 2015.

There will be a special screening of DreamWorks Animations’ How to Train Your Dragon 2 in the presence of director Dean Deblois ahead of its July release in France.

DreamWorks director of creation Bill Damaschke will also be at Annecy this year to give a cinema lesson to mark the studios’ 20th anniversary.

Director Carlos Saldanha will participate in a “making of” talk about Rio 2 alongside art director Tom Cardone in which they will discuss how they built-on the style of the original Rio, creating new settings and characters.

In the popular Works in Progress section, director Kelly Asbury will talk about The Smurfs reboot he is currently working on for Sony Pictures Animation, explaining how the work is not a sequel to the two previous live-action/CG movies, but rather a closer reworking of the original artwork and stories of late comic strip artist Peyo.

He will be joined on stage by Bob Osher, president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions.

Other upcoming films featured in the Works in Progress section include Asterix: the Land of the Gods, the highly anticipated Phantom Boy by Oscar-nominated Alain Gagnol & Jean-Loup Felicioli and DOFUS Book 1 – Julith, the first feature film from online games giant Ankama.

Japanese director Keiichi Hara, who won the Jury’s Special Distinction and the Audience Award with Colorful at Annecy in 2011, will unveil details of his upcoming Miss Hokusai, an adaptation of a popular graphic novel by Hinako Sugiura set against the backdrop of a traditional family in early 19th century Japan.

Special Programmes

This year, Annecy has also organised two special programmes devoted to stop-motion animation and the topic of World War One.

The stop-motion line-up features a conference on the UK’s Aardman Animations studio presented by co-founder Peter Lord as well as screenings of stop-motion classics such as The Tale of the Fox by pioneering Russian animator Ladislas Starewitch.

The World War One programme, to mark the commemoration of the centenary of World War One, is a joint venture with Anima Brussels and Trickfilm Festival Stuttgart.

It pulls together several films which have been made for the centenary include Jeremie Malavoy’s live action/animation hybrid Unknown Soldier (Le Soldat Meconnu) about Augustin Trebuchon, the last French soldier to officially die in the war.

MIFA: International Animation Film Market

The festival’s three-day MIFA animation film market will open its doors on to some 2,500 professionals and graduates on Wednesday. There will be territory focuses devoted to South Africa, Canada and Russia this year.

Key related events include the pitching sessions at which 26 projects, including shorts, feature-length films and transmedia works, will be presented to studios from across the world.

In the feature-length selection, South Africa director Porteus Xandau will present Hillbrow about the three Johannesburg characters linked by the abuse of HIV antiretroviral medication as a recreational drug.

Brazilian Rogerio Nunes, who will seek support for his adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, transposing the tale from the Congo to the slums of Rio de Janeiro.

For graduates, MIFA will run its annual “talents of tomorrow” networking sessions giving budding animators an opportunity to present their portfolios to major animation studios such as Ubisoft, Rovio, Sony Pictures Animation and Disney Channel.

Back in the festival, nine feature-length films will compete for the prestigious Cristal award including Bill Plympton’s Cheatin’, Thomas Szabo & Helene Giraud’s Miniscule: Valley of the Lost Ants, and Brazilian Ale Abreu’s The Boy and the World, about a small boy trying to understand the modern world.