Nine features set for expanding Annecy ani fest

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Feature films will be in the spotlight when the 2007 Annecy International Animation Festival kicks off its 31st edition in June, organizers said Tuesday.

Initiatives to promote the full-length cartoon medium this year include a greater number of feature films in competition, new special distinction and audience awards, a series of daily meetings for film executives and the addition of 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 countries — 182 of which are part of the official competition, which includes nine features and 51 shorts.

Competition titles vying for the festival's Cristal Award for best feature 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 festival will fete Benelux with events planned to stress the achievements of animation in the territory, which encompasses Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Other screenings lined up include DreamWorks' "Shrek the Third," Sony Pictures' "Surf's Up" and Festival de Cannes selection "Persepolis."

"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," Annecy artistic director Serge Bromberg said.

The festival runs June 13-18 in resort town in the French Alps.
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