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Animation Is Film Reveals Jurors and Special Events

Taking place October 22-24, the festival kicks-off with the North American premiere of Netflix’s feature, ‘The Summit of The Gods;’ virtual program will be free to view during the event – tickets are now available.

Animation Is Film (AIF) has announced the festival’s jury and special events lineup for its fourth edition, which takes place in-person October 22-24, returning to its home at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood.  The festival kicks off Opening Night with the North American premiere of the highly anticipated Netflix feature, The Summit of The Gods, followed by an in-person Q&A with award-winning director Patrick Imbert (The Big Bad Fox and Other Tales). 

On October 23, the festival will feature the West Coast Premiere of GKIDS’ Belle, directed by Oscar nominee Mamoru Hosoda (Mirai) who will also do an in-person Q&A following the premiere. The West Coast Premiere of NEON’s award-winning Flee, directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen, will close the festival October 24. 

Tickets for Animation Is Film are now on sale at

Also announced, the jury members for this year’s festival, special events, and the extremely popular Annecy International and Women in Animation curated program. LAIKA will also host a showcase of all five of award-winning animation studio feature films presented in a curated display in the TCL lobby; characters include: Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link

"This year's Animation Is Film jury is made up of a panel of notable industry professionals whose uniqueness and diversity matches the Competition lineup itself,” shared festival director Matt Kaszanek. “This is a truly wonderful group, and we're honored to have them.”

2021 JURORS 

  • Myke Chilian - A Los Angeles-based animator, storyboard artist, writer, voice actor, and musician. He is the creator and executive producer of the HBO Max series, Tig n’ Seek, which is produced by Cartoon Network Studios.
  • Deborah Cook - Originally from England, Cook has designed and built costumes for every LAIKA film (Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link).
  • Peter Debruge – Variety’s chief international film critic and a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin’s film studies program.
  • Sandra Equihua - A graduated from IBERO university with a bachelor’s in graphic design she has worked as a graphic designer, illustrator, and a character designer next to her husband, Jorge Gutierrez, in companies such as WB, Disney, Nick JR, and Nickelodeon. She continues her career as a character designer for the animated movie The Book of Life and she is currently working for Netflix on the animated series Maya and the Three
  • Dan Krall - An Emmy and Annie award-winning artist, producer, and art director he is currently serving as consulting producer on Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, the upcoming animated series produced by Warner Bros. Animation and Amblin Television. Prior credits include popular titles such as Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, Chowder, Coraline, and Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated.
  • Kristin Lowe - Chief Creative Officer, Features for DreamWorks Animation, Lowe oversees feature development, casting and artistic management for the studio’s renowned feature film division. DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming 2022 feature slate includes The Bad Guys, and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, the sequel to the 2011 Oscar-nominated blockbuster.
  • Erick Oh - An Oscar nominated Korean filmmaker based in California, Oh’s films have been introduced and awarded at numerous film festivals including Academy Awards, Annie Awards, Annecy Animation Festival, Zagreb Film Festival, SIGGRAPH, and Anima Mundi and more. Erick became an animator at Pixar Animation Studios from 2010 to 2016. Erick’s latest film Opera was nominated for the Oscar and his upcoming project Namoo was premiered in Sundance Film Festival this year.
  • Ray Pride - A longtime film critic of Chicago's Newcity arts monthly and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.  His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in 2022. 
  • Raye Rodriguez - Creator and executive producer of the upcoming Crunchyroll Original series High Guardian Spice. He is a graduate of Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, and began his career as a director, storyboard artist and character designer at Fox Animation Domination High-Definition (Fox ADHD).
  • Charles Solomon - A respected critic and animation historian, 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.”
  • Ramin Zahed - Editor-in-Chief for Animation Magazine, Zahed is an LA-based author and journalist who specializes in animation, visual effects, pop culture and indie films. He has written for Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, Sight and Sound and others.


The debut of an international showcase of 2021 female-directed animated shorts, curated in partnership with WIA and Annecy. This program features a diverse array of beautiful, dynamic storytelling experiences that cover a wide variety of subject matter and artistic styles—a concise but compelling display of women’s vision and voice in today's global animation community. 

  • No Leaders Please – directed by Joan Gratz (USA)
    Works inspired by artists Basquiat, Banksy, Haring, and Ai Weiwei represent Bukowski's poem's theme of self-invention.
  • Affairs Of the Art – directed by Joanna Quinn (UK, Canada)
    Beryl's back in Affairs of the Art, which showcases one family's eccentric yet endearing obsessions with everything from drawing to screw threads and pet taxidermy.
  • It Rains (Llueve) – directed by Carolina Corral Paredes and Magali Rocha Donnadieu (Mexico)
    Is that what mass graves are like, one body on top of the other and nothing else? Through the rain, Oliver sends signals to his mother to help her unearth the truth.
  • How To Be at Home – directed by Andrea Dorfman (Canada)
    Lean into loneliness - and know you're not alone in it. Filmmaker Andrea Dorfman reunites with poet Tanya Davis to craft tender and profound animation on the theme of isolation, providing a wise and lyrical sequel to their viral hit How to Be Alone.
  • Ce Qui Resonne Dans Le Silence (What Resonates in Silence) – directed by Marine Blin (France)
    Hiding death doesn't make it disappear. A young girl suffers from the adults' silences and feels dispossessed of her right to mourn. As an adult, she describes the tender gestures that bind her to the dead.
  • Le Reveil Des Insectes (The Awakening of The Insects) – directed by Stephanie Lansaque (France).
    Mr Lam is an old man, losing his memory since his wife died. The last day of "the insects' hibernation,” he receives an unexpected visit from Ms. Meng, Taoist exorcist determined to chase demons out of his head.


Free and available for viewing at during the festival.

Baobab Studios’ Namoo: A Conversation with Eric Darnell and Erick Oh

  • Join Baobab Studios’ chief creative officer, Eric Darnell, and Erick Oh, the Oscar-nominated director of their latest animated short film, Namoo, as talk about their respective journeys working for big studios such as DreamWorks Animation and Pixar, embracing new technology and working in the world of independent filmmaking. They will discuss their creative freedom from an artistic standpoint, as well as the biggest challenges they faced along the way. They will end by going into a deep dive about creating the studio’s latest animated short film, Namoo, simultaneously for both theatrical and VR platforms. Using one of the latest state-of-the-art animation tools, Quill, along with real-time technology, Namoo – translated to “tree” in Korean – is a hand-crafted narrative poem following the beautiful and heartbreaking moments of a man’s life, from beginning to end. 

Animation In Video Games 

  • As video games continue to push the boundaries of narrative animation, Slate's Allegra Frank moderates a discussion on the importance of 2D character designs and development in video game storytelling. 

Mamoru Hosoda: In Conversation with Leonard Maltin

  • On the event of the West Coast premiere of his latest film, Belle, Academy Award nominee Mamoru Hosoda sits down with critic Leonard Maltin for an in-depth discussion of his career and the new film.

Tale As Old as Time: Beauty and The Beast Turns 30

  • In celebration of the 30th anniversary, producer Don Hahn moderates a discussion with directors Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise on the making of a modern animated classic and its legacy 30 years later.

Source: Animation Is Film

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Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.