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New York Int'l Children’s Film Fest Returns — With a Twist

The New York International Childrens Film Festival, a Big Apple perennial since 1999, returns on March 11, 2006, in a different, yearlong format.

Instead of several weekends of back-to-back screenings, director Eric Beckman has organized this year's festival as weekend programs that will take place throughout 2006. "We're experimenting with a new format," Beckman explains. "We did a survey last year and 96% of the people we asked said they would go to a once a month screening.

The festival was one of the first venues to introduce New Yorkers to the joys of Hayao Miyazaki. Its 2006 schedule kicks off with March and April screenings of the freshly re-dubbed MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO at the IFC Film Center in Greenwich Village. The new version, starring Dakota and Ellie Fanning was supervised by Pixar director (and now Disney animation kingpin) John Lasseter. TOTORO returns in April together with the east coast theatrical premiere of NAUSICAÄ VALLEY OF THE WIND, revoiced by a cast of heavy hitters, including Alison Lohman, Uma Thurman and Patrick Stewart.

The festivals traditional screenings of short films both live-action and animated for different age groups follow later in the year, complete with audience voting. Partners like the Museum of Modern Art or even the United Nations may join in, and with enough public demand screenings will ramp up from monthly to weekly. Itll feel different, Beckman admits, but the quality of the films will remain the same.

The festival first took seed in 1997 when Beckman first tried to put together a program of intelligent, creative, passionate films for young people. As he tells it, I opened up the paper to see what was playing here in the great cultural capital of New York, and the only thing [for kids] was THE GOOFY MOVIE.

Last year some 20,000 New Yorkers attended the festival where some 90 films were screened out of 1,800 submitted. Every one of our shows has sold out in advance since 2000, Beckman boasts. In 2007 he foresees the return of the winter festival together with ongoing monthly screenings throughout the year. We wanted to do this for a long time, but we're not a big organization. We can't do both at once, but next year when its our 10th anniversary, we'll be back with a big blowout and an ongoing program.

(More information the New York International Childrens Film Festival is available at, or by E-mailing

Article written by Joe Strike