Annecy Director Marcel Jean Defends AI Film Selections Amid Booing Controversy

Short Summary:

Annecy film festival's artistic director Marcel Jean defended the inclusion of AI-made films after audience members booed the screening of an AI-generated music video. Jean emphasized the importance of discussing AI in filmmaking, highlighting the selection process and the festival's inclusive values. The festival, which opened on June 9, 2024, faced controversy but maintained its stance on showcasing diverse and innovative works.

Marcel Jean, the artistic director of the Annecy Film Festival, has defended the inclusion of films made with artificial intelligence (AI) in this year’s edition following audience backlash. During the screening of Chien Mechant’s music video Etoile Filante on June 9, which utilized generative AI software, some audience members expressed their disapproval through booing.

French audiovisual website 3DVF reported that other films in the Commissioned Films screening received applause, while Etoile Filante faced a mixture of silence and boos. Jean responded to the criticism, stating, “It’s important to have the conversation, the debate about all this – to look at the works and to comment after. My job is to show what is made.”

Another AI-generated film in the festival, Ryo Nakajima’s Who Said Death Is Beautiful?, was developed using Stable Diffusion AI software. Selected for the Midnight Specials strand, this film also faced criticism from the animation community. However, its evening screening on June 10 proceeded without incident.

Jean emphasized the necessity of evolving with the times and considering the artistic merit of AI-created works. He noted that the AI films selected were among many submissions, chosen based on the filmmakers’ previous works and talents. “When we receive something made by generative AI, by a nobody with no talent, it doesn’t have any interest,” Jean clarified.

He did not dismiss the possibility of more AI films being featured in future festivals, acknowledging the need to adapt to industry changes. Jean underscored that the festival aims to support professionals and students, emphasizing their work and creativity.

The controversy surrounding AI films is not the sole focus of Annecy this year. The festival boasts a record attendance of over 17,000 badgeholders, surpassing last year’s numbers. Plans are also underway for a new animation center at Haras, set to open by spring 2026, which will include welcome facilities, a 300-seat screening room, and space for animation exhibitions.

Jean also addressed broader social issues, expressing concern over the recent political climate in France. The festival, he stated, is committed to values of inclusion and internationalism, contrasting with the rising right-wing nationalism in the country.

In his discussions with French creative unions like AnimFrance and the Association Francaise du Cinema d’Animation, Jean highlighted the importance of allowing artists to express their views on AI, rather than solely relying on legal and union perspectives.

The Annecy Film Festival continues to navigate the complexities of modern filmmaking, striving to balance innovation, artistic integrity, and inclusivity amidst evolving industry dynamics.