The inaugural Falmouth Annecy trip (first of many, we hope).

On the 9th June a group of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year pioneers from the Falmouth Animation and VFX course set out on the first official Falmouth Annecy trip, accompanied by two members of staff who had also never been before.  

The old town of Annecy is wonderfully picturesque, like a fairy tale or an animated feature film environment.  
The trip had been carefully planned, we were all ready and excited, and yet… already before we had even set out the Festival website had crashed and booking screenings was almost impossible.  In addition we were to be camping 7kms of the town, at the mercy of a free Annecy Festival bus shuttle, followed by a 2km walk up a mountain. There was a slight aprehension as to how things would pan out on this first Falmouth Annecy trip.

On getting off the plane in Geneva we were immediately met with a rush of hot air, we had found ourselves in a heatwave that dominated our first day.  It was not until we had later found the beautifully clear lake that we were able to enjoy it.  Shedding garments as a matter of urgency, we were whisked off to the campsite in a speedy minibus convoy and arrived at what would be our beautiful, tranquil home for the week.

On the first day it was necessary to take drastic action to combat the heat. Many were later to jump in, clothed or not.
The campsite chalets sat on a tree covered mountainside down sandy little lanes, shaded by pollarded lime trees.  The people were friendly and the swimming pool was a godsend in the sizzling temperatures.  Over the week we even came to love the walk up the mountain from the main road, (especially at 1.30 am), trooping as a chattering group past the moonlit fields and winding our way up through the little village of wooden houses to the sound of hooting owls and snuffling donkeys.

Camping Le Panoramic at Annecy
The shuttle buses went at specific times so there was no choice, we had to be up and out in the mornings.  So there we were, at the start of each day, standing a little bleary eyed at the bus-stop, ready to make the most of our day in Annecy.  This was a good thing for those of us who may have missed out on some of the morning screenings if we had had more choice in the matter.

The mountains around the lake rise, snowcapped and beautiful to shelter the town of Annecy
What a week! There were huge outdoor screenings by the lakeside, several parties and a picnic which featured a pedalo race and game of rounders.  The main events were the various screenings and talks that took place in a range of different cinemas.  There was also MIFA, the International Animation Film Market, which included pitch and recruitment opportunities - some of our third year students were particularly keen to take advantage of this.

The magical atmosphere of an Annecy outdoor screening
Annecy in festival week is a bustling, lively place full of animators from all over the world, all wearing their accreditation badges, cycling from one screening to another.  Once we had got our badges, maps, programmes and had mastered the website bookings (which worked very well by that time), we were all raring to go.  We spent our days hopping from venue to venue, being inspired by animation from all over the world.

Life was tough for Ben and Nick on the streets of Annecy
In the evenings, sitting out in the pavement restaurants and chatting to fellow animators, we were in food and drink heaven (and in fact it is possible that some of us may have dined a bit too much on the divine patisserie that week).  Sometimes we preferred to stay at 'home' in the restaurant by the pool to watch the sun going down over the snowy mountain top.

In a shopping mall we came across an old friend, Max from 'Mary and Max'.
The animation festival screenings both in and out of competition were comprised of 9 animated feature films, 6 short film programmes, graduation films, TV films and commissioned films.  Highlights for many of us included Bill Plympton's new feature film 'Cheatin', the Japanese feature, 'Giovanni's Island' directed by Nishikubu and and the final evening screening of Miyazaki's 'The Wind Rises'.  We all saw most of the short film programmes which featured an unexpected amount of artistic, experimental animation.

Inspired, Rachel and Katie are busy in their sketchbooks.
We were all exhausted by the end of the week but there was a general agreement that it had been a great success, a chance to absorb what is current in animation.  For our first year students in particular, this had been an opportunity to begin to gain an understanding of the what animation industry is.

It was particularly great to meet up with and spend a little time with some of our Falmouth Animation graduates, Insa, Gaz, Omari, Elliot and Orla and to hear all about their work in various animation studios.

Cooling off - a synchronised drink for Rob and Mads
Another enjoyable thing for staff was seeing how well our Falmouth student group got along together, how they looked out for each other and enjoyed each others company.  They were all fantastic and we couldn't have asked for a better lot to take.

And thanks to the incredible weather and lovely campsite it felt like a proper holiday.
Au revior, Annecy and here's to next year's trip!



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