A collection of reviews of films from off the beaten path; a travel guide for those who love the cinematic world and want more than the mainstream releases.
Friday, September 13, 2019
“ANIMATION IS FILM” FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES 2019 LINEUP AND JURY
MAKOTO SHINKAI’S “WEATHERING WITH YOU” TO OPEN FESTIVAL
JEREMY CLAPIN’S “I LOST MY BODY” TO CLOSE FESTIVAL
FILMS IN COMPETITION:
Bombay Rose (India/UK/France/Qatar) – Gitanjali Rao
Children of the Sea (Japan) – Ayumu Watanabe***
I Lost My Body (France) – Jeremy Clapin***
Marona’s Fantastic Tale (France/Romania/Belgium) – Anca Damian***
No. 7 Cherry Lane (Hong Kong SAR China) – Yonfan***
Ride Your Wave (Japan) – Masaaki Yuasa
SHe (China) – Shengwei Zhou
The Swallows of Kabul (France) – Zabau Breitman & Elea Gobbe-Mellevec***
Weathering With You (Japan) – Makoto Shinkai***
White Snake (China) – Amp Wong & Ji Zhao***
***filmmakers attending as of press time
SPECIAL EVENT HIGHLIGHTS:
Frozen 2 (USA) – Behind the Scenes Presentation
Klaus (USA) – Behind the Scenes Presentation
Cencoroll Connect (Japan) – Special Screening
Ne Zha (China) – Special Screening and Panel Discussion
Son of the White Mare (Hungary) – Special Screening, New Restored Print
Steven Universe the Movie (USA) – Special Screening
Best of Annecy: Women Director Showcase (Various) – Short Film Screening and Panel
LOS ANGELES (September 13, 2019)– ANIMATION IS FILMannounced today the preliminary line-up for its third annual edition, taking place October 18-20 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The Festival will present a highly selective showcase of new animated feature films from Asia, Europe, South America and North America, with both juried and audience prizes. Makoto Shinkai’s hugely successful WEATHERING WITH YOU will open the festival with Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura in attendance. Closing the festival will be France’s I LOST MY BODY, with director Jeremy Clapin and producer Marc du Pontavice in attendance.Tickets are available for purchase now at animationisfilm.com.
The festival will present 10 feature films in competition, vying for Grand Prize, Special Jury Prize, and Audiences Award. Additionally, the festival will present special screenings, retrospectives, short films, panel discussions, sneak peek “making of” and “behind the scenes” presentations, plus non-stop receptions and parties to round out a jam-packed three days of events and screenings.
GKIDS and AIF founder Eric Beckman said, “In partnership with Annecy, we are thrilled to present our third annual slate of amazing animated filmmaking from around the world. The range of artistry on display this year for LA audiences is truly remarkable, from celebrated Cannes, Venice, and Annecy winners, to enormous box office megahits, to lovingly told personal stories. From self-taught, first-time filmmakers to revered masters. From expressionistic to cartoony to photo-realistic to provocatively experimental. There is stop motion, hand drawn, hand painted, 3D CGI, comedy, romance, heart-rending drama, psychological thriller, epic fantasy, and so much more that simply can’t be categorized. If anyone still suffers under the misimpression that animation is a family entertainment genre, the festival will open their eyes to the wide, practically unlimited possibilities that this potent artform is capable of.”
"The quality and diversity of the films presented at Animation Is Film this year reinforces Annecy’s satisfaction of being associated with an event that has already found its place after only 2 editions and is a genuine springboard in North America for the world’s best independent animation,"added Annecy’s CEO & Director, Mickael Marin.
ANIMATION IS FILM fills a gap in the market by establishing a world class animation festival in the US, with its home in the world capital of filmmaking. The Festival embraces the highest aspirations of animation as a cinematic art form on par with live action filmmaking and is a vocal advocate for filmmakers who push the boundaries of their work to the fullest range of expression that the medium is capable of. The festival is produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival. Major industry and media sponsors include: Variety, Fathom Events, Loews Hotels, All Nippon Airways, ELMA, Netflix, Shout! Factory, Paramount Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, Cartoon Network, Unifrance, DreamWorks Animation Animation Magazine, Animation Scoop, Animation World Network, Cartoon Brew, Japan House LOS ANGELES, RightStuf Anime, CSULB Animation, WIA (Women In Animation), USC School of Cinematic Arts, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, and CalArts.
2019 FILMS IN COMPETITION
WEATHERING WITH YOU – US PREMIERE – OPENING NIGHT FILM
(dir. Makoto Shinkai, prod. Genki Kawamura, Japan)FILMMAKERS IN PERSON
Weathering With Youis the new film from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura, the creative team behind the critically acclaimed, global hit Your Name. Weathering With Youis the highest grossing film of the year at the Japan box office, as well as Japan’s official International Feature Film entry to the 2020 Academy Awards®. With Tokyo flooding under unceasing rains, runaway teen Hokoda meets Hina, a mysterious girl who has the power to part the clouds and bring the sun.
I LOST MY BODY – WEST COAST PREMIERE – CLOSING NIGHT FILM
(dir. Jeremy Clapin, prod. Marc du Pontavice, France)FILMMAKER IN PERSON
Presented in partnership with COLCOA French Film Festival
From director Jeremy Clapinand Ameliescreenwriter Gullaume Laurant,I Lost My Body is winner of the Nespresso Grand Prize in Critics’ Week at Cannes as well as both the Cristal for Best Feature Film and the Audience Prize at Annecy. In a Parisian laboratory, a severed hand escapes its unhappy fate and sets out to reconnect with its body.
BOMBAY ROSE – US PREMIERE
(dir. Gitanjali Rao, India/UK/France/Qatar)
The opener of this year’s Critics’ Week in Venice, Gitanjali Rao’s mesmerizing and lovingly hand-painted feature debut is an ode a city and its cinema. Set in bustling Mumbai, the crisscrossing narratives of the different characters center on Kamala, a young woman attempting to escape her fate, in this vibrant celebration of memory, art, music and color.
CHILDREN OF THE SEA – US PREMIERE
(dir. Ayumi Watanabe, Japan)FILMMAKER IN PERSON
Children of the Seais the latest feature from Japan’s Studio 4°C (MFKZ, Tekkoninkreet, Mind Game, Genius Party), with a score by award-winning composer Joe Hisaishi (Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro).
In this ethereal fantasy, Ruka is drawn toward the sea by a haunting whale song and two mysterious boys, Umi and Sora. Little does she know she has been chosen as the catalyst of a cosmic event.
MARONA’S FANTASTIC TALE – US PREMIERE
(dir. Anca Damian, France/Romania/Belgium)FILMMAKER IN PERSON
Annecy award-winner Anca Damian’s new film is a beautiful and deeply emotional story of life and love, told through the point of view of a mixed breed Labrador puppy. After an accident, Marona reflects on all the homes and experiences she has had. As her memory journeys into the past, her unfailing empathy and love bring lightness and innocence into each of her owners’ lives.
NO. 7 CHERRY LANE – US PREMIERE
(dir. Yonfan, Hong Kong SAR China) FILMMAKER IN PERSON
The prince of sensual Hong King cinema, writer/director Yonfan (Bishonen, Peony Pavilion, Color Blossoms) makes his animation debut with No. 7 Cherry Lane, a surreal and dream-like tale of amorous attractions, set in a turbulent 1967 Hong Kong. When University student Ziming shows up for a tutoring gig, he becomes the object of fantasy for both his beautiful student Meiling and her mother, Mrs Yu. He takes Mrs. Yu to the movies and through a series of magical moments on the big screen, forbidden passions are revealed. Film won the prize for best screenplay in its Venice premiere.
RIDE YOUR WAVE – WEST COAST PREMIERE
(dir. Masaaki Yuasa, Japan)
Anime bad-boy Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, DEVILMAN crybaby)is back with his fourth feature film, a heart-rending but uplifting tale of love and loss, that retains Yuasa’s slightly anarchic and subversive sensibility. Hinako is a surf-loving college student who has just moved to a small seaside town. When a sudden fire breaks out at her apartment building, she is rescued by Minato, a handsome firefighter, and the two soon fall in love. But just as they become inseparable, tragedy strikes.
SHe – US PREMIERE
(D. Shengwei Zhou, China)
One of the most original and daring films this year, the unapologetically experimental SHeis a harrowing critique of a patriarchal society.In a dystopian world, male shoes, all black polish and metal grommets, are in charge, while the females, red high-heels with spindly vines, are caged and kept strictly for breeding purposes. Under disguise, a female breaks loose and attempts to move beyond her confines, but her attempt alters not only her fate but the very fabric of the society.
THE SWALLOWS OF KABUL – LOS ANGELES PREMIERE
(dirs. Zabou Breitman, Elea Gobbe-Mellevec; France) FILMMAKERS IN PERSON
In the summer of 1998, Kabul is in ruins and occupied by the Taliban. Atiq and Mussarat have been married for years and now barely talk to each other. He can no longer bear working as a guard in a women's prison and she is in agony and suffering from an incurable illness. Mohsen and Zunaira are young and love each other. But Mohsen commits a foolish act that transforms their destiny.
WHITE SNAKE– WEST COAST PREMIERE
(dirs. Amp Wong, Ji Zhao; China) FILMMAKERS IN PERSON
One day a young snake-catcher names Xuan discovers a mysterious woman by a waterfall and saves her life. The woman has lost her memory and together they go on a fantastical adventure to discover her real identity. Conceived as a prequel to one of the most ancient and enduring stories in Chinese history, the box office hit White Snakepresents a sumptuous tale of trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, assassins, wuxia action, and the promise of eternal love.
NE ZHA - SPECIAL SCREENING AND DISCUSSION WITH COLOROOM FOUNDER, YI QIAO
(dir. Jiao Zi, China)
With the release of Ne Zha, the Chinese animation industry has come into its own. The $20 million budget film has grossed an astounding $700 million at the Chinese box office, demolishing the $235 million prior record head by Disney's Zootopia. Animation Is Film is thrilled to present a special screening of Ne Zhafollowed by a discussion with the Yi Qiao, Nezha's co-writer and the producer, CEO, and visionary force behind Coloroom, the startup animation company that has produced megahits NezhaandMonkey King: Hero is Back, art house titles Big Fish and Begonia, Da Hufaand Have a Nice Day, and is also distributor for anime hits Your Nameand Spirited Away.
SON OF THE WHITE MARE – NEWLY RESTORED PRINT
(1981, dir. Marcell Jankovics, Hungary)
One of the great psychedelic masterpieces of world animation, Son of the White Mareis a swirling, color-mad maelstrom of mythic monsters and Scythian heroes, part-Yellow Submarine, part-Nibelungenlied, lit by jagged bolts of lightning and drenched in rivers of blue, red, gold and green. Directed by Hungarian animator Marcell Jankovics (famed for his 1974 Oscar-nominated short Sisyphus), Son of the White Marehas been restored in 4K using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements.
STEVEN UNIVERSE THE MOVIE – SPECIAL SCREENING
(dir. Rebecca Sugar, USA)
A rare chance to see Steven on the big screen in all his singing glory! In his first musical TV movie, Steven Universe thinks his time defending the Earth is over. But when a new gem comes to Beach City seeking revenge, Steven faces his biggest challenge yet.Steven Universe, the TV show, 2018 Peabody Award and 2019 GLAAD Media Award recipient, follows Steven and the Crystal Gems, a team of magical aliens who fight to protect the planet Earth. Steven is the half-Gem half-human son of the Crystal Gems' late leader Rose Quartz and local musician Greg Universe. Steven's friends and family support him as he grows into his powers and figures out how to be himself.
CENCOROLL CONNECT – SPECIAL SCREENING
(dir. Atsuya Uki; Japan)
Nearly singlehandedly written, designed, directed, and animated by manga author Atsuya Uki, Cencoroll Connect seamlessly combines his original 2009 short film and the 2019 Cencoroll 2in a riveting, standalone sci-fi feature.
THE BEST OF ANNECY: SPOTLIGHT ON WOMEN DIRECTORS
(Short Film Program, various directors)
Presented by Women In Animation & Annecy International Animation Film Festival
Showcasing some of the best animated shorts directed by women in 2019, this special program features a diverse array of beautiful, thought-provoking short films from around the world.
SPECIAL EVENTS & WORKSHOPS
FROZEN: BEHIND-THE-SCENES– FILMMAKERS IN-PERSON
Be among the first to experience new footage from the breathlessly anticipated sequel to the 2013 phenomenon Frozen. For your guide, co-director and Academy Award® winner Chris Buck takes you on a journey out of Arendelle in pursuit of the origin of Elsa's powers. Featuring scenes and music from the upcoming Frozen II, Animation Is Film is proud to present this special sneak preview.
KLAUS: BEHIND-THE-SCENES– FILMMAKERS IN PERSON
An Animation Is Film exclusive sneak peek at one of the most anticipated animated features of the year – Netflix’s KLAUS! Presented by director Sergio Pablos (live, via satellite) and Animation Supervisor Matt Williams (live, in-person) – learn about the production, and see never-before-seen footage of this groundbreaking new film.
FREE FAMILY EVENT
HAIR LOVE: THE MAKING OF – FILMMAKERS IN PERSON
(d. Matthew A. Cherry, USA)
Hair Loveis a story about learning something new. After retiring from the NFL, wide receiver Matthew A. Cherry moved to Los Angeles and switched gears to begin work in film. When he launched a Kickstarter campaign to make an animated short about a black father’s struggle to learn how to style his young daughter’s hair, it became the most highly funded short film in the platform’s history and the film was released in theaters nationwide. Join director/writer/producer Matthew A. Cherry, director Everett Downing Jr., and producer Karen Rupert Toliver for a screening of the short and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Hair Love.
FREE FAMILY EVENT
ZOG: THE MAKING OF – FILMMAKER IN PERSON
(d. Max Lang & Daniel Snaddon, UK).
The latest from Magic Light Productions, creators of The Gruffalo and Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes, Zog tells the crowd-pleasing, family-friendly story of a young fire breather and his first days at Dragon School. Join director, 2-time Academy Award nominee Max Lang for a special presentation of the film in its entirety, followed by a behind-the-scenes commentary at the making of it.
2019 AIF JURY
Allison Abbate (EVP, Warner Animation Group)
Allison Abbate is an executive vice president at Warner Animation Group (WAG), a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Abbate was an executive producer on the global blockbuster The LEGO® Movie; and a producer on Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie and Corpse Bride, Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Brad Bird’s directorial debut, Iron Giant.
Suzanne Buirgy (Producer, Dreamworks Animation)
Suzanne Buirgy has created an impressive roster of credits in her 20-year career in Animation and Visual Effects. arriving at DreamWorks Animation in 2005, Suzanne jumped into the role of Production Executive and worked on a number of films in that capacity including Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda, and Shrek the Third.Currently, Suzanne is serving as producer on Abominable, a co-production between DreamWorks Animation and China’s Pearl Studio, slated for release in the fall of 2019.
Justin Chang(Film Critic, Los Angeles Times)
Justin Chang is a film critic for the Los Angeles Times and for NPR’s “Fresh Air,” and a regular contributor to KPCC’s “FilmWeek.” Before joining The Times, he was chief film critic at Variety. He is the author of the book “FilmCraft: Editing” and serves as chair of the National Society of Film Critics and secretary of the Los Angeles Film Critics Assn. In 2014 he received the inaugural Roger Ebert Award from the African American Film Critics Assn. A Southern California native and USC graduate, he lives with his wife and daughter in Pasadena.
Matthew Cherry (Film & Television Executive, MonkeyPaw)
He is an accomplished director & producer for TV and Film projects. He executive produced the Academy Award nominated film, BlackKklansman directed by Spike Lee. His current project is titled "Hair Love" and it is an animated short film about an African American father trying to do his daughters hair for the first time and he recently partnered with Sony Pictures Animation on the project, which was released in North American theaters with “The Angry Birds Movie 2.”
Melissa Cobb (VP, Kids and Family, Netflix)
Melissa Cobb is Vice President, Kids and Family at Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service. Cobb leads the content team responsible for bringing kids and family titles, both live-action and animated, to Netflix members in 190 countries around the world.
Peter Debruge – AIF Jury Chair(Chief Film Critic, Variety)
Variety’s Chief International Film Critic, Peter is a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s film studies program. Prior to Variety, he spent four years working as an editor for AOL Moviefone. In addition to hundreds of reviews for the Austin Chronicle, Miami Herald and Premiere, his writing on film has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Life, Creative Screenwriting, Backstory and IndieWire. Peter also contributed to the book Variety’s The Movie That Changed My Life.
Carolyn Giardina (Editor, The Hollywood Reporter)
Carolyn Giardina is Tech Editor at The Hollywood Reporter and writes its Behind the Screen blog. Her work as an editor, reporter or columnist has also appeared in titles such as CinemaEditor, SHOOT, British Cinematographer and SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.
Jorge R. Gutierrez (Filmmaker, The Book of Life, Son of Jaguar)
Jorge R. Gutiérrez is a painter, writer and director. He and his wife Sandra Equihua created the multiple Emmy Award-winning animated television series, “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” for Nickelodeon, and he co-wrote and directed “The Book of Life” for Reel FX and 20th Century Fox, which was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film. He is currently creating Maya and The Threefor Netflix.
Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Filmmaker, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3, The Darkest Minds)
Jennifer Yuh Nelson made her feature film directorial debut with “Kung Fu Panda 2”. Nelson has lent her talents to a variety of DreamWorks Animation pictures, including as head of story for “Kung Fu Panda”, and story artist on “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron’ and “Madagascar”.
Charles Solomon(Critic and Animation Historian)
An internationally respected critic and historian of animation, Charles Solomon has written on the subject for the New York Times, Newsweek (Japan), Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, The International Herald Tribune, Variety, the Manchester Guardian, and National Public Radio. His books include “The Art of Frozen,” “The Art of the Disney Golden Books,” “The Toy Story Films: An Animated Journey,” “Tale as Old as Time: The Art and Making of Disney’s Animated Classic Beauty and the Beast,” “The Art of Toy Story 3,” “Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation,”
Mabel Tam (VP and Head Film Buyer, Landmark Theatres)
Mabel Tam is VP/Head Film Buyer of LANDMARK THEATRES. Landmark Theatres is the nation’s largest theatre chain dedicated to exhibiting and marketing independent film. A 16-year veteran of the entertainment industry, she is a graduate of UCLA and resides in LA with her family.
Anne Thompson (Editor-at-Large, Indiewire)
IndieWire Editor at Large Anne Thompson has been a contributor to the New York Times, Washington Post, The Observer, and Wired. She has served as film columnist at Variety, and deputy editor of Variety.com, was the Deputy Film Editor at The Hollywood Reporter, the West Coast Editor of Premiere, a Senior Writer at Entertainment Weekly, and West Coast Editor for Film Comment. She wrote the film industry column “Risky Business” for L.A. Weekly and the Los Angeles Times syndicate.