The French Institute Alliance Francaise‘s Animation First opens this week and we are better for it.
Splitting time between in person and on line this annual celebration of animation brings some of the best animation around the world to New York in the in person screenings and across the globe on line. It is the best place in New York for animation junkies to indulge their passion without leaving the city.
To be honest the festival does center on French animation owning to who is hosting the fest, but at the same time it also pulls in great animation from elsewhere. This year for example we are getting screenings of the Disney classic BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and Don Bluth’s AN AMERICAN TALE, in addition to Joann Safar's stunning LITTLE VAMPIRE,THE CROSSING, SUMMIT OF THE GODS, MY SUNNY MAAD and others.
I love the fest. I have been covering it since the first year and each year it surprises in me in unexpected ways. This year I’m discovering so many incredible shorts such as AFFAIRS OF THE ART, MAALBEEK and SWALLOW THE UNIVERSE which are completely blowing me away.
And I should say that while everyone focuses on the features, Animation First has hours and hours of magnificently programmed films. They have two sections of films from France but they have also raided Annency and elsewhere and they have brought in 194 shorts and TV episodes. Almost all of it is great.
They are also doing a whole series of panels that are on works in progress. Seriously they are bringing in filmmakers to talk about the projects they are working on and they are all FREE. Three are on Saturday the 1th, one on the 13th and one is part of the streaming portion of the festival. These kick ass every year so you have to go.
I should also mention there is a panel on the French influence on Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST which ties into the Met show currently on display.
Normally at this point I would give you recommendations but it's all good. There is enough here that you can't go wrong just picking what seems to interest you....
OKAY OKAY two quick picks
Put LITTLE VAMPIRE on my list of hidden gem of the festivals. The story of a little vampire, his mom and her love chased across time by a jealous ex-boyfriend is an absolute delight. Its a pirate monster movie for everyone. YES it really is family friendly. Its a story about friendship and finding one's family with monsters and people. Its a delight.
FRENCH SHORTS 2- has some of my favorite shorts in it, particularly SWALLOW THE UNIVERSE which is so visually arresting I got it Vimeo. The Annency selections are great too.
If you love animation you need to either attend in person (February 11 to 13) or buy some online access ($25 for everything from February 14 to 21).