“Guillermo del Toro’s Passion for Animated Films Shines at the Annecy Festival”

By: MRT Desk

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This year, the Annecy Animated Film Festival

has decided to focus its exceptional and varied programming on Mexican animation. To celebrate, the award-winning director and animator of ‘El libro de la vida’, Jorge R. Gutiérrez, has been commissioned to design the official poster of the contest.

The masterclasses on the subject

have been many and varied throughout the week, and it has been a pleasure to be able to attend several of them. And who better to direct several of these classes than the famous director Guillermo del Toro, responsible for jewelry such as ‘Hellboy’, ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’, ‘The Alley of Lost Souls’ and the Oscar winners ‘The Shape of Water’ and ‘Pinocchio’.

Del Toro has always considered animation his first love.

He thus remembered it these days in Annecy, where he wanted to remember his beginnings in the genre, using his father’s Super 8 camera. And taking into account what he told us during his masterclass, it seems that it will also be his last love. Indeed, after his Oscar for best animated film for ‘Pinocchio’, the director declared that he only has a few “real” feature films left, making it clear that he prefers to focus on animation. “There are a couple more live-action movies I want to do, but not many,” del Toro said. “After that, I just want to do animation. That’s the plan.”

The Mexican told us

how difficult beginnings are in this world, with a shortage of money that translates into cutting expenses, if necessary also with food: “We discovered that the cheapest food was dog food,” Del Toro told us matter-of-factly. “It’s full of calcium, so we had dog food, and all the money we saved we used to buy a new lens or light.”

The Mexican genius

also told us about his undying respect for his special effects tutor and “make-up professor” Dick Smith (‘The Godfather’, ‘The Exorcist’), and how his then-future father-in-law told him that he thought people in the movie world were “very indecent”, to which del Toro responded: “I’m a decent man, I’ll make my clay puppets, there’s very little room for cocaine!”

Despite being a two-time Oscar winner and considered a movie legend

Del Toro does not have his hands tied nor is he “married” to anyone. The Mexican has always been very critical of the film industry, which he accuses of being “oriented to crush shit and destroy your art”, revealing that only in the last two months, five of his projects have been rejected by studios. “Making movies is eating a shitty sandwich,” the artist told the surprised Annecy audience at one point. “There’s always shit, it’s just that sometimes they give you a little more bread.”

The Mexican director did not stop insisting that the animation medium

It’s not just for the little ones. “I think you can make a fantastic adult drama with stop-motion and move people with it,” del Toro said. “I think stop-motion can be intravenous, it can go right into your emotions in a way that no other medium can.” Though he acknowledges that recent string of animated blockbusters have helped the genre and given it “a little more leeway”, Del Toro did not hesitate to remember that “there are still great fights to fight.”

The director did not mince words when talking about Hollywood and the big studios.

At one point, the author of ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ stated that animation is the purest form of art and that it has been “hijacked by a bunch of thugs”, referring to conventional animation studios that, according to him, avoid risks with an endless barrage of easy-to-consume products. “We have to rescue animation. I think we can bring our Trojan horse into the world of animation.”

His Trojan horse analogy is apt

as there is still a long way to go for animation to be considered on the same level as live-action feature films. Just as horror films, considered for decades as the smallest genre in Hollywood, are now experiencing a certain revaluation from the big studios, animation also needs to gain greater recognition. “In the industry we’re still kept at the damn kid’s table,” del Toro protested. “We have to fight to change that: take over the asylum and then…”

Despite his outspokenness about industry gatekeepers and money men, del Toro doesn’t let anything erase his passion for the medium. For him, stop-motion is “the most beautiful form of animation, because it is the most intimate.” “There is always a strong connection between the animator and the physical model,” the director confessed. “Animation is for the untamed spirits. Animation is saying ‘fuck you’ to the world as it was presented to you as a child. Don’t stop telling the world to fuck off. Keep saying it until you crash! That’s what’s important, monsters. I love them because they represent a bodily ‘fuck you’ to the world.”

Del Toro also emphasized animation as a collaborative medium

as well as the importance of passing on the necessary knowledge so that future generations can help keep this art form alive. “If you love animation and not just yourself, show it, share it. If you have it, share it. We’re a bunch of crazy people trying to keep an ancient form of magic alive. So share it and pass it on,” del Toro asked fans of this such a particular and unique world.

Directors like Del Toro can be counted today on the fingers of one hand

so full of love, humor and generosity. Seeing him throughout the festival spending his time talking to members of the public, greeting them and listening to his projects was a priceless experience for any movie lover. “This is the good thing about Annecy,” recalled the Mexican. “You are not alone, you are part of a community of crazy people. It’s fantastic, take advantage of it!”

However, and no matter how moving Del Toro’s words are, if to a double Oscar winner is denied his projects, what hope do others have? This is a rather depressing thought that surely crossed the mind of more than one attendee. Thanks to the gods of animation, there are festivals like Annecy. This is an event that not only celebrates the best of animation, but also offers a considerable platform to those new talents who need exposure to make themselves heard.

“We have to rescue animation”

This is an event that not only celebrates the best of animation, but also offers a considerable platform to those new talents who need exposure to make themselves heard.For all audiences The Mexican director did not stop insisting that the animation medium is not just for the little ones. “I think you can make a fantastic adult drama with stop-motion and move people with it,” del Toro said. “I think stop-motion can be intravenous, it can go right into your emotions in a way that no other medium can.” Though he acknowledges that recent string of animated blockbusters like ‘Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse’ or ‘The Super Mario Bros. Movie’—without forgetting ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’, which premiered in Annecy and hits theaters in August—have helped the genre and given it “a little more leeway”, Del Toro did not hesitate to remember that “there are still great fights to fight.”

The director did not mince words when talking about Hollywood and the big studios. At one point, the author of ‘The Devil’s Backbone’ stated that animation is the purest form of art and that it has been “hijacked by a bunch of thugs”, referring to conventional animation studios that, according to him, avoid risks with an endless barrage of easy-to-consume products. “We have to rescue animation. I think we can bring our Trojan horse into the world of animation.” His Trojan horse analogy is apt, as there is still a long way to go for animation to be considered on the same level as live-action feature films.

Just as horror films, considered for decades as the smallest genre in Hollywood, are now experiencing a certain revaluation from the big studios, animation also needs to gain greater recognition. “In the industry we’re still kept at the damn kid’s table,” del Toro protested. “We have to fight to change that: take over the asylum and then…”

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