Wednesday, December 7, 2022

FIAF Announces Animation First 2023


New York, NY (December 6, 2022) — The French Institute Alliance Française announces the program for the sixth edition of Animation First, the only U.S. festival dedicated to showcasing the legacy and innovation of French animation. The 2023 festival will run from Friday, January 27 through Sunday, January 29 and will present six feature-length films (including three U.S. and three NY premieres), and six short film programs with over 65 new shorts (including eight U.S. and 12 NY premieres).

The complete Animation First program will comprise filmmaker conversations, "Work in Progress" presentations, a selection of video games and AR-VR experiences, and student shorts programs. Tickets are now on sale.
An early bird discount is available on festival passes through December 16. Animation First curators are Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF Film Curator, and Chloé Dheu, FIAF Film Coordinator. Selles-Alvarez says, “Animation First is an international celebration of all forms of animation. FIAF takes pride in offering NY audiences the best of animated Francophone programs. This year, I’m thrilled that we will honor Anca Damian, one of the most creative filmmakers working today,”

Opening the festival on Friday, January 27 will be the NY premiere of Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre's Little Nicholas: Happy As Can BeLittle Nicholas is a charming rendition of artist Jean-Jacques Sempé’s and René Goscinny’s lives which co-exist within the fictitious adventures of Le Petit Nicolas, the beloved French children's character. The film is presented in conjunction with the FIAF Gallery exhibition: Signature Sempé.
The exhibition will consist of a selection of Sempé’s most iconic works, including quintessential drawings from Le Petit Nicolas and New Yorker cover designs. On Saturday, January 28 there will be a conversation with the Little Nicholas filmmakers, Martine Gossieaux (Sempé’s widow), and New Yorker artistic director Françoise Mouly examining the allure and longevity of Sempé and Le Petit Nicolas.

The Animation First 2023 Guest of Honor is award-winning screenwriter and director, Anca Damian. Damian will present the NY premiere of her mixed media animated film, The Island (The Island was an Animation First 2021 ‘Work in Progress’ presentation) on Sunday, January 29. Following the screening, there will be a conversation with Damian where she will discuss her new film and the augmented reality companion piece, In Search of Paradise.

The closing night film on Sunday, January 29 will be the U.S. premiere of Alain Ughetto's stop motion feature, No Dogs or Italians Allowed. Told as a fictional dialog between the filmmaker and his grandmother, the film details the lives of Italian immigrants who fled poverty and fascism. Other 2023 feature films include the NY premiere of Alberto Vázquez's Unicorn Wars, an anti-war allegory; the U.S. premiere of Michael Ocelot's The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess, three tales celebrating courage in the face of injustice; and the U.S. premiere of Pierre Földes' Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, based on short stories by Haruki Murakami. This year's festival will also include six short film programs: Best of AnnecyBest of Annecy KidsNew Francophone Shorts programs, Student Shorts Competition and RECA, the French Animation School Network.

There will be two ‘Work in Progress’ presentations for 2023. On Saturday, January 28, Iranian filmmaker Sepideh Farsi will discuss her upcoming film
The Siren, which relays the story of a young boy living in Abadan. Farsi will elaborate on some of her artistic choices and inspiration for the film. On Sunday, January 29, artist Cédric Babouche and producer Aymeric Castaing will discuss the inception of Dordogne, a unique video game that utilizes over 150 watercolor paintings to immerse players in the Dordogne region of France.

Throughout the festival, the FIAF Library will be free and open to the public to experience video games and virtual reality films from French studios and distributors. This years video game selection includes a first look at the Dordogne prototype, a demonstration copy of Chants of Sennaar, and A Plague Tale: Requiem, amongst others. There will also be three VR experiences and an AR exhibit: The Starry Sand Beach (NY premiere), Seven GramsAll Unsaved Progress Will Be Lost (U.S. premiere), and the U.S premiere of augmented reality exhibit, In Search of Paradise, a companion piece to The Island.

The complete Animation First 2023 schedule can be found here.


About Animation First

Created in 2018, Animation First is the only film festival in the United States dedicated to French animation.

Today, France is Europe’s largest producer and the world’s third-largest exporter of animated film. Since its early beginnings in the late 19th century when Émile Reynaud projected his Pantomimes Lumineuses at the Musée Grevin in Paris, the French animation industry has inspired filmmakers and artists. Their resulting experiments with puppets, cutouts, and stop motion, have been instrumental in inventing important techniques in cinema. Renowned for its stylistic innovation and an approach that integrates artisanal methods with technological ingenuity, French animation continues to garner awards worldwide and spans a diversity of genres. It is responsible for a variety of films from independent art-house successes such as Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville and Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle to those for mature audiences like Persepolis and I Lost My Body to the Franco-American Despicable Me franchise.

Beyond films, France has carved out an important space in animated TV programs, web series, video games, and the rapidly developing fields of virtual reality and new technologies.

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