By Beth Deitchman
Walt Disney Animation Studios is bringing incredible experiences to the 2021 Annecy International Animation Film Festival next month—including the world premiere of an all-new theatrical short film. The premiere screening of Far From the Tree will cap off the Festival’s 60th anniversary celebration program on Tuesday, June 15.
The following day, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ (WDAS) Chief Creative Officer Jennifer Lee will join three talented filmmakers from the Pan-African company Kugali—Ziki Nelson, Hamid Ibrahim, and Tolu Olowofoyeku—as well as WDAS VFX Supervisor Marlon West and Head of Story Natalie Nourigat for a sneak peek at the upcoming animated series Iwájú, which is coming to Disney+ in 2022. This conversation will mark the first time, anywhere, that the creative leadership of Kugali and Disney Animation will appear together.
And on Saturday, June 19, a special screening of the Disney Animation theatrical short Us Again will close out the Annecy Festival. Us Again, which premiered in theaters alongside Raya and the Last Dragon, is set in a vibrant city pulsating with rhythm and movement. Directed by Zach Parrish (Puddles), the short follows an elderly man and his young-at-heart wife as they rekindle their youthful passion for life and each other on one magical night. Choreography from award-winning choreographers/dancers Keone and Mari Madrid (World of Dance) and a score by acclaimed composer Pinar Toprak (Captain Marvel) help bring this poignant story to life.
The Annecy Festival premiere of Far From the Tree marks a decades-long partnership between Disney Animation and the Festival, where the Oscar®-winning short Paperman and the Oscar®-nominated short Get A Horse! also premiered.
Far From the Tree tells the story of a young raccoon whose frustrated parent attempts to keep them both safe when curiosity gets the better of the little critter. Natalie Nourigat has directed the short, which will make its theatrical debut later this year with Disney Animation’s upcoming feature film Encanto. Nourigat previously presented her short Exchange Student before the Annecy Festival audience in 2019. The film would go on to be released in January 2020 with Disney Animation’s Short Circuit Experimental Films (and you can watch it now on Disney+).
“Annecy is such a special place for me,” Nourigat says, “and I am thrilled to bring my second animated short film to the Annecy International Animation Film Festival. While I wish I could be there to present Far From the Tree in person, I am honored to join the Festival on the virtual stage.”