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Anima 09 To Preview Miyazaki's Ponyo

The 28th edition of the Brussels Anima Festival, one of the most important animation festivals in Europe, will be taking place during the Carnival holiday period, from February 20-28.

Anima 2009 will be once again opening with a sneak preview: the latest film by Hayao Miyazaki, PONYO ON THE CLIFF BY THE SEA, an animated feature for young and old, whose heroine is a little goldfish princess who desperately wants to become human, and in her search, becomes friends with 5-year-old Sosuke. This film was in the official competition at the last Venice festival.

The Bruxelles-Capitale region is paying tribute to the comic strip in all its forms in 2009. One of these forms is, of course, adapting the strip to animation. In association with Bruxelles BD, Anima 2009 will be presenting sneak previews, cult films and the exhibition "From Strip to Screen." The festival will also be holding a cosplay competition (an animation and BD gathering of fans disguised in their favourite characters) with a number of prizes up for grabs and a great atmosphere guaranteed.

Anima will sneak preview nine new features in competition along with WALLACE & GROMIT: A MATTER OF LOAF AND DEATH, three previously unseen NARUTO features and the first images from the much awaited PANIQUE AU VILLAGE and GASTON LAGAFFE projects.

Along with the Belgian Film Library, Anima 2009 is paying tribute to American filmmaker Ralph Bakshi (FRITZ THE CAT), whose 1972 adaptation of the '60s emblematic underground comic strip character Fritz was the first animated film to be targeted to adults. This great classic is an absolute must for any animation fan.

Of course, Anima 2009 has a host of other goodies to offer, with 200 films in the international competition (shorts and features, commercials and music videos) or in panorama and a Belgian competition and focus, to take the pulse of animation in all its entertaining, creative and prospective dimensions.

Bill Plympton will be a festival guest, along with Samuel Lord Black (Chairman of SIGGRAPH), Steven Woloshen, Tomm Moore (Brendan) and many others, coming to present their films or take part in the "Futuranima" professional days. The retrospectives will be a mix of genres, delving deep into animation's history or the latest news, with the most recent work selected at the SIGGRAPH Computer Animation Festival 2008 rubbing shoulders with past and present work from the Zagreb studio, the "Channel 4" years or early examples from French filmmakers Ocelot, Girerd and Laguionie.

New for this year, Anima is presenting the "Animatins" (morning screenings at a reduced price for groups), as well as "Open Screenings," giving Belgian short films that were not selected the chance to be seen. A meeting with Plympton, a one-day workshop given by Kyle Balda (formerly of Pixar), a conference by Mike Reiss (writer on THE SIMPSONS), workshops for the children, the Futuranima professional days, the "Nuit animee," the Cartoon d'Or, and a closing ceremony with VJay will all be in up the festival program.

The festival will take place in Flagey, Brussels, with a part of the program presented in several towns in Belgium.