Annecy to focus on feature-length toons

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PARIS -- Feature films will be in the spotlight at the 2007 Annecy International Animation Festival, set to kick off its 31st edition from June 11 - 16, organizers announced Tuesday.

Initiatives to promote the lengthy cartoon medium this year include more feature films in competition, a special features jury, a special distinction and an audience award in addition to the Cristal for best feature, a series of daily meetings for film execs and an out of competition category within the "official selection."

After sorting through a record 1,882 entries, the Fest's selection committee has chosen 233 films from 35 different countries, 182 of which are part of the official competition including nine feature films, 51 shorts, 43 TV movies, 28 publicity clips and 51 graduation films.

Features in official competition include: Michel Ocelot's "Azur et Asmar" (France), Koichi Chigira's "Brave Story" (Japan), D. Jud Jones' "Film Noir" (U.S.), Sam Fell's "Flushed Away" (U.K.), Kompin Kemgumnird's "Khan Kluay" (Thailand), Samuel Guillaume's "Max & Co" (Switzerland), Satoshi Kon's "Paprika" (Japan), Christopher Nielsen's "Slipp Jimmy Fri" (Norway) and Mamoru Hosoda's "Toki wo kakeru shoujo" (Japan).

The Fest will fete Benelux with a series of events planned to stress the achievements of animation in the territory.

The parallel MIFA market is also back in animation action this year with over 200 buyers expected to attend the specialized toon trade fair from June 13 - 15. Comics companies will be treated to an exhibition area for the main industry players, a "chill out" area with a restaurant and bar, and a digital video library offering digital screening services for all films in official competition.

Animation administrators can also participate in conferences on various topics related to the toon market such as "Newtools, new organizations: How to improve studio productivity" and "Emerging technical solutions for Animation."

Dreamworks' "Shrek 3," Sony Pictures' "Surf's Up" and Gallic Festival de Cannes selection "Persepolis" will also be screened for the market.

"Our goals remain the same: to demand the best of animation, but not forgetting different audiences, to discover new productions, but without neglecting the classics, and to offer dozens of surprises," the toon fest's artistic director Serge Bromberg said at a news conference in Paris.
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