Monday, March 17, 2014

MINUSCULE: VALLEY OF THE LOST ANTS (2013), and wondering why aren't more critics in the trenches at NYICFF

The second  of  two NYICFF films this weekend screened at SVA. It was Minuscule: Valley of the Lost Ants which is an animated French film about a lady bug who befriends some black ants  who are transporting a tin of sugar to their nest. The black ants end up being hunted by a bunch of red ants who eventually assault the black nest in force. Think cowboys being chased by Indians only smaller.

You have to see, you have to see this in 3D.  No things don't pop out at you but darn the sense of depth adds a great deal to the film. Saying that is a big deal since I hate the extra cost of 3D films and find the process annoying. However you have to keep in mind that this is a great looking (its animated characters in real backgrounds) grand adventure that sucks you in and carries you away. And while this film has echoes and out right steals things from some of the greatest films of all time-it does so in such away that its not showy or over powering. Its like oh look a reference to Raiders of the Lost Ark, that's cool, but whats going to happen next? You'll care less about the riff then you will about how the characters are going to get out of the danger they are in.

This is a great great film that had the kids cheering and everyone roaring with laughter. Trust me on this, this is a film that will grab you and drag you along-ll without one word of human dialog. Yea the insects buzz, tweet and whatever, but no one says a word.

I need to see this again soon because it had me awestruck.

The best thing I can say is I hope this is getting a US release because I need to bring lots of people to it.

And seeing the film I'm left to ponder am I and the two or three other writers I've seen, the only people who seem to be really getting down and dirty and really covering the festival? I ask this because other than myself I don't think there was another writer in the house today, or for that matter at many of the other screenings I've attended. Why aren't more people there?

Come on, what is it that no one likes good films? What are writers scared of kids? Writing up films from screeners is not really covering a festival . Yea it's giving coverage of the films and what a fest shows, but lets be real that's not reporting on what the festival really is. A festival is whats happening in the seats with the paying people. You have to go to public screenings if you really want to know what a festival is.

What the New York International Children's Film Festival is is a blast. Its the most fun you can have at the movies regardless of your age.

I mean what's not to love?

-You have great movies pretty much across the board handed to you on a silver platter
-You have a great staff like Nicola, Alexa and Rebecca, not to mention the rest of the staff and volunteers smiling and being helpful and friendly- and will gladly talk to you, even if you're a big bear of a writer.
-You have intros from festival founder Eric Beckman which are frequently fall down funny (he some how called himself Woowho today and then had to take it back lest it stick) and always informative about what we're going to see.
-You have Q&As
-And you have the t-shirt toss- And trust me you haven't lived until you've watched an audience full of kids during a t-shirt toss. Its one of the most fun things any human being can witness/be apart of- heck Chocko even got into it at Ernest and Celestine catching a shirt and then passing it on to the kids behind us.

Its all more fun than you can imagine, but there doesn't seem to be much on the ground reporting.

Where's the coverage? Where's the big outlets coming in and doing big stories? Why aren't TV cameras doing big pieces?

This festival is just so special more people need to be there...heck this is one of the best film festivals in New York every year and most people don't realize it exists or worse they actually think it's just for kids. Come on this isn't for kids, this is for everyone...this is a cinematic party for anyone who comes.

Why am I, and a few others, the only one shouting to the heavens and saying what a great festival this is?

The frustration isn't aimed at the festival people, all of which I love, rather it's aimed at  my fellow writers who refuse to see that so many great films like Ernest and Celestine, like the Book of Kells, like Cat in Paris were gift wrapped and handed to them almost a year before they went on their radar at the Oscars thanks to NYICFF, but they ignored them. How many glorious magical films have they missed because they didn't know what anyone who's ever gone to the festival knows that NYICFF has the highest success rate of  picking winning films of any festival I've ever seen. (Yes,The New York Asian Film Festival comes close, but they've had several films that have made me wonder why they programmed them and NYICFF had that only once in all their years in existence)

I am part of a group that constantly bemoans the lack of good films, and yet they freaking ignore the festival every damn year. Any writer, heck, any film lover, who wants to see a hundred or so of the best films possible should have a seat to every film at NYICFF.

I know some writers will complain that they won't cover a festival screening unless something special is happening, but I would argue, every screening at the festival is special.

If you aren't going to NYICFF you don't know what you're missing.

Which maybe a good thing since it allows me to get tickets to the festival without fear of being sold out. It also allows me to talk to the filmmakers and festival organizers and find out things before anyone else.

Maybe I shouldn't force the writers to go, perhaps I should just suggest that if you have a love a great films (full stop) you should try to get tickets to something in the remaining two weeks of the festival.

GO SEE SOMETHING and have a blast. Details can be found here.

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