Illumination founder and CEO Chris Meledandri was presented with the Annecy International Film Festival’s lifetime accreditation Golden Ticket on Wednesday.
In a surprise appearance, two-time Oscar nominee and Grammy-winning global superstar Pharrell Williams presented Meledandri with the festival’s honor.
Meledandri is the creative producer behind “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” the Despicable Me, Minions, Sing and The Secret Life of Pets franchises, and the upcoming action comedy, “Migration.”
Williams, a longtime creative partner with Illumination, earned his first Academy Award nomination for his blockbuster song “Happy” from the studio’s “Despicable Me 2.”
Meledandri is attending Annecy with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Benjamin Renner to reveal exclusive footage of Illumination’s new feature film “Migration,” which releases Dec. 22, stars Kumail Nanjani and Elizabeth Banks, and is written by Emmy winner Mike White.
Several Illumination films have premiered at Annecy over the years.
Marcel Jean, the Annecy festival’s artistic director, said: “The collaboration between Illumination and Annecy has been a determining factor in the festival’s recent development. The trust that Chris Meledandri has placed in us, in particular during the various film launches for the ‘Despicable Me’ franchise, has been a tremendous boost to our development. Awarding the Golden Ticket to Chris Meledandri symbolises how significant this bond is for Annecy.”
Festival CEO Mickaël Marin added: “Chris Meledandri has been instrumental in changing the way feature films are produced. By choosing to produce in Europe, and in particular in France, he has unified the best of two continents. It is this visionary ethos that we want to celebrate.”
In 2016, the Annecy Festival awarded its first Golden Ticket to Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-founder of DreamWorks Animation.