The second-annual Animation Is Film Festival (October 19 – 21) will once again offer a diverse range of indie features from Asia, Europe, South America, and North America. Just as last year’s festival drew many animation fans to the TCL Chinese in Hollywood, this iteration will impact the Oscar race because of the prestigious exposure.
Produced by GKids in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety and Fathom Events, the festival will offer more than 30 titles, including 11 films in competition. AIF kicks off with the premiere of GKids’ Oscar contender, “Mirai,” a time-traveling story about a brother and sister from acclaimed Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda. There will also be a four-film retrospective of Hosodo’s work.
AIF will additionally spotlight footage from Disney’s Oscar contender, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” (November 21), and Sony’s highly-anticipated “Spider-Man Into the Spider-Verse” (December 14). There will also be a 20th anniversary screening of DreamWorks’ “Prince of Egypt” (which won the Oscar for Best Original Song, “When You Believe”).
“For film lovers and creators who can’t travel to Annecy or the other major animation events, AIF brings the best animated filmmaking from around the world under one roof,” stated GKids CEO Eric Beckman, “for a long weekend of big-screen binge-watching, filmmaker Q&As, red carpet premieres, studio events, workshops and parties.”
The selection of juried films in competition will include “Mirai (opening November 30) along with such Oscar hopefuls as Sony Pictures Classics’ recently acquired “Ruben Brandt, Collector,” a psychological mystery about the theft of famous paintings from Hungarian director Milorad Krstic (a November release); and Shout! Studios’ “Tito and the Birds,” about an epidemic of fear from Brazilian directors Gabriel Bitar, Andre Catoto, Gustavo Steinberg (a fall release).
Other juried film include “Another Day of Life,” a drama from Poland/Spain about the Angola Civil War (directed by Raul de la Fuente and Damian Nenow); “Bunuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles,” a stranger than fiction story from Spain featuring the surrealist filmmaker (directed by Salvador Simo); “Funan,” a drama from Belgium/France/Cambodia about a mother trying to keep her family together during the horror of the Khmer Rouge regime (directed by Denis Do); “I Want to Eat Your Pancreas,” about the unraveling of a secret diary from Japanese director Shin’ichiro Ushijima); “Okko’s Inn,” about a young girl befriended by a ghost after the death of her parents from Japanese director Kitaro Kosaka); “Pachamama,” an adventure from Argentina/France about reclaiming a town’s stolen treasure (directed by Juan Antin); “Penguin Highway,” about a boy confronted by stranger things from Japanese director Hiroyasu Ishida); and “Seder-Masochism,” about a matriarchal interpretation of the traditional Passover Seder from acclaimed indie director Nina Paley (“Sita Sings the Blues”).
Chairing the jury once again will be Variety chief critic Peter Debruge. Other members include IndieWire Editor at Large Anne Thompson; directors Henry Selick (“Coraline,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas”), Dean DeBlois (DreamWorks’ “How to Train Your Dragon” trilogy), Jennifer Yuh Nelson (DreamWorks’ “Kung Fu Panda” sequels), and Jorge Gutierrez (“The Book of Life”); Oscar winner and former Lakers legend Kobe Bryant (“Dear Basketball”); Allison Abbate (Executive Vice President, Warner Animation Group); and Melissa Cobb (VP, Kids and Family, Netflix).