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While the idea of attending an in-person industry event will still feel like a distant prospect for many reading this, some in the kids’ television business are getting ready to finally swap webinars and Zoom meetings for the bar of the Impérial Palace in Annecy this month.

The organisers of annual animation event MIFA claim theirs will be the first international film festival to be held in person since the pandemic began and are preparing to welcome “several thousand” delegates from France and around Europe, marking a major milestone since the pandemic began.

Medieval towns in south-east France were not built with social distancing in mind, but the event organisers have insisted it will be imposed, with dedicated staff, redesigned queuing systems and spaced-out screenings to reduce health risks. You can also imagine the amount of hand sanitiser on offer could fill the town’s picturesque lake twice over.

After so much time spent behind home office desks, it’s abundantly clear the industry is desperate to get back to face-to-face interaction, and the excitement from those due to attend Annecy in-person is palpable.

But as European execs blow the dust off their business cards, they arrive in Annecy at a pivotal time for the business – though when is that ever not the case in our industry?

Last month saw the industry go merger-mad, with major tie-ups announced between Cartoon Network owner WarnerMedia and factual behemoth Discovery, as well as French commercial broadcasters TF1 and M6. Both deals will be major talking points in Annecy this year.

Local children’s and youth channel France 5, meanwhile, was finally handed its reprieve by president Emmanuel Macron, who when confirming plans for its controversial closure were on the guillotine recognised the positive impact the channel has had on families, especially during the pandemic.

The world has become a very different place since the last major kids’ industry meet-up took place at the Kidscreen Summit in Miami back in February 2020. But the way the industry has reacted to those changes highlights its resilience, fortitude and ability to provide stressed-out parents with much-needed respite when they’re at their wits’ end.

That certainly deserves a few raised glasses and elbow bumps at the Impérial Palace bar!