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Animation is Film Festival 2019 Announces Lineup and Jury

Running October 18-20, the festival will showcase 10 new animated features and special presentations, including ‘I Lost My Body,’ ‘Ne Zha,’ ‘White Snake’ and ‘No. 7 Cherry Lane.’

LOS ANGELES -- Animation is Film has announced its preliminary line-up for the third edition, taking place October 18-20 at the TCL Chinese Theater in Hollywood. The festival will present a showcase of new animated feature films from Asia, Europe, South America and North America. Weathering with You will open the festival with director, Makoto Shinkai, and producer, Genki Kawamura, in attendance. The French film, I Lost My Body, will close the festival; both director Jeremy Clapin and producer Marc du Pontavice will be attending.

This year there will be 10 feature films in competition for both juried and audience awarded prizes. The festival will also present special screenings, retrospectives, short films, panel discussions, sneak peek “making of” and “behind the scenes” presentations, receptions and parties rounding out the three-day event.

“In partnership with Annecy, we are thrilled to present our third annual slate of amazing animated filmmaking from around the world,” commented GKIDS and AIR founder, Eric Beckman. “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. There are films from self-taught, first-time filmmakers and 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 embraces animation as a cinematic art form on par with live-action filmmaking and is an advocate for filmmakers who push the boundaries of their. 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.


Weathering with You – US Premiere – Opening Night Film
(dir. Shinkai, prod. Kawamura, Japan) FILMMAKERS IN PERSON

Weathering with You, from the creative team behind the hit Your Name, is 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. Clapin, prod. Du Pontavice, France) FILMMAKER IN PERSON
Presented in partnership with COLCOA French Film Festival

From director Clapin and Amelie screenwriter 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, Rao’s hand-painted feature debut is an ode to a city and its cinema.

Set in Mumbai, the crisscrossing narratives of the different characters center on Kamala, a young woman attempting to escape her fate, in this celebration of memory, art, music and color.

Children of The Sea – US Premiere
(dir. Ayumi Watanabe, Japan) FILMMAKER IN PERSON

Children of the Sea is 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 Damian’s new film features Marona, a mixed-breed Labrador, who after an accident reflects on her past homes and experiences. Journeying back through her memories she reflects on the deep impressions she has made on her owners’ lives. With Marona’s unfailing love and empathy she had provided lightness and innocence to her families.

No. 7 Cherry Lane – US Premiere
(dir. Yonfan, Hong Kong SAR China) FILMMAKER IN PERSON

Writer/director Yonfan’s (Bishonen, Peony Pavilion, Color Blossoms) animation debut won the prize for best screenplay in its Venice premier.

Set in 1967 Hong Kong, university student Ziming shows up for a tutoring gig and becomes the object of fantasy for both his student Meiling as well as 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.

Ride Your Wave – West Coast Premiere
(dir. Masaaki Yuasa, Japan)

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)

SHe is 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 an ancient and enduring story in Chinese history, White Snake presents a tale of trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, assassins, wuxia action, and the promise of eternal love.


Ne Zha - 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 $700 million at the Chinese box office.

The screening of Ne Zha will be followed by a discussion with co-writer/producer and Coloroom CEO, Qiao. Coloroom has produced hits such as Nezha and Monkey King: Hero is Back, art house titles Big Fish and Begonia, Da Hufa and Have a Nice Day, and is also distributor for the popular anime films, Your Name and Spirited Away

Son of The White Mare – Newly Restored Print
(1981, dir. Marcell Jankovics, Hungary)

Son of the White Mare is a swirling, color-mad maelstrom of mythic monsters and Scythian heroes, part-Yellow Submarine, part-Nibelungenlied. Directed by Hungarian animator Jankovics (known for his 1974 Oscar-nominated short Sisyphus), the film has been restored in 4K using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements.

Steven Universe the Movie – Special Screening
(dir. Rebecca Sugar, USA)

Steven Universe, the award-winning TV show, 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.

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.

Cencoroll Connect – Special Screening
(dir. Atsuya Uki; Japan)

Written, designed, directed, and animated by manga author Uki, Cencoroll Connect combines his original 2009 short film and the 2019 Cencoroll 2 in 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, this program features a diverse array of short films from around the world, showcasing some of the best animated shorts directed by women in 2019.


Frozen: Behind-The-Scenes – Filmmakers In-Person

Experience new footage from the highly anticipated sequel to the 2013 feature, Frozen. Co-director and Academy Award winner, Chris Buck, presents scenes and music from the upcoming Frozen II.

Klaus: Behind-The-Scenes – Filmmakers In-Person

Director Sergio Pablos (live, via satellite) and animation supervisor, Matt Williams (live, in-person), present an exclusive sneak peek of Netflix’s Klaus.  Learn about the production, and see never-before-seen footage of this new film.


Hair Love: The Making of – Filmmakers In-Person
(d. Matthew A. Cherry, USA)

Hair Love is 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 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.

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 family-friendly story of a young fire breather and his first days at Dragon School. Join Lang for a special presentation of the film in its entirety, followed by a behind-the-scenes commentary of its making. 


Allison Abbate (EVP, Warner Animation Group)

  • Abbate is an executive vice president at Warner Animation Group (WAG), a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Abbate was an executive producer on 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)

  • Buirgy has an impressive roster of credits in her 20-year career in animation and visual effects beginning with her arrival at DreamWorks Animation in 2005 where she jumped into the role of production executive working on a number of films including Over the Hedge, Kung Fu Panda, and Shrek the Third. She is currently 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)

  • 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)

  • Cherry 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, Hair Love, is an animated short film about an African American father trying to do his daughters hair for the first time.  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)

  • Netflix vice president, kids and family, 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, Debruge 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, Debruge’s writing on film has appeared in numerous publications. He has also contributed to the book Variety’s the Movie That Changed My Life.

Carolyn Giardina (Editor, The Hollywood Reporter)

  • Giardina is tech editor at The Hollywood Reporter and writes its Behind the Screen blog. Her work as an editor, reporter or columnist has 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)

  • Gutiérrez is a painter, writer and director. He and his wife Sandra Equihua created the award-winning animated television series, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon. 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 Three for Netflix.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Filmmaker, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3, The Darkest Minds)

  • Nelson made her feature film directorial debut with Kung Fu Panda 2. She 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, 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)

  • Tam is VP/head film buyer of Landmark Theatres. 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, deputy editor of, 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.

For tickets and additional information, visit the festival website.

Source: Animation is Film