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‘Ruben Brandt, Collector,’ ‘Seder-Masochism’ Among 11 Features to Compete at ANIMATION IS FILM

Initial feature competition lineup and jury announced for second annual edition running October 19-21 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.

Directed by Hungarian filmmaker Milorad Krstic, ‘Ruben Brandt, Collector’ will have its U.S. premiere at ANIMATION IS FILM 2018.

LOS ANGELES -- ANIMATION IS FILM has announced the preliminary competition lineup and jury for its second annual edition running October 19-21 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. The Festival will present a selection of new animated feature films from Asia, Europe, South America and North America, with both juried and audience prizes. Mamoru Hosoda’s hugely successful Mirai will open the festival with Hosoda in attendance. Tickets and festival passes are available for purchase now at -- use the code “AWN” at checkout to receive a 40% discount!

This year’s festival will feature more than 30 titles: 11 films in Competition, three World Premieres, four North American premieres, and two United States premieres. Two prizes will be awarded -- The Jury Prize (Competition films only) and the Audience Award.

The festival will also include a four-film retrospective of the work of opening night director Mamoru Hosoda, who will attend all festival screenings of his films. Additionally, ANIMATION IS FILM will include a celebration of the 20th Anniversary screening of Academy Award-winning The Prince of Egypt, which received an Oscar for Best Original Song, “When You Believe,” and pioneered the marriage of traditional hand-drawn work with state-of-the-art computer animation. Original artists and creatives from the film will be in attendance.

The festival will also feature special footage from some of the most anticipated animated features of 2018 including Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Ralph Breaks the Internet and Sony’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Additional programs and events are still to be announced.

“After last year’s incredible inaugural event, we’re thrilled to present the second annual ANIMATION IS FILM Festival in Los Angeles. For film lovers and creators who can’t travel to Annecy or the other major animation events, AIF brings the best animated filmmaking from around the world under one roof for a long weekend of big-screen binge-watching, filmmaker Q&As, red carpet premieres, studio events, workshops and parties. Many thanks to our jury, partners, sponsors and filmmakers! Can’t wait to see everyone there!” said GKIDS CEO Eric Beckman.

“For Annecy, it is a great pleasure to be associated again with GKIDS and all the partners of ANIMATION IS FILM for this second edition which looks as successful as the first. This is for Annecy, an additional opportunity to support films, creators and promote animation in all its dimensions and all its diversity,” added Annecy CEO & Director, Mickael Marin.

The Festival is being produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety and Fathom Events. Additional sponsors include Animation Magazine, Cartoon Brew, AWN, Loews Hotels, Shout! Factory, ASIFA-Hollywood, Blue Sky Studios, DreamWorks Animation, ELMA, Paramount Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, UniFrance, CalArts, Consulate of France, UCLA School of Theater, Film & TV and USC School of Cinematic Arts.


Another Day of Life
(Poland/Spain, dirs: Raul de la Fuente, Damian Nenow - U.S. Premiere)
Warsaw, 1975. Kapuscinski (43) is a brilliant veteran journalist, an idealist and a friend of lost causes and revolutions. At the Polish Press Agency, he convinces his boss to send him to Angola where a bloody civil war has broken out on the eve of the country’s independence. He embarks on a seemingly suicidal road trip into the heart of the civil war.

Buñuel In the Labyrinth of the Turtles
(Spain, dir: Salvador Simo - World Premiere)
In a stranger than fiction tale befitting of the master surrealist filmmaker, Buñuel and the Labyrinth of the Turtles captures the moment when, based on a wild lottery ticket promise, Buñuel and his friend and new benefactor Ramón set out to make the unexpected and ambitious documentary on the Las Hurdes region in Spain. The production tests Bunuel’s mental stamina as well as the two men’s friendship as the fate of the project comes into question.

(Belgium/France/Cambodia, dir: Denis Do - North American Premiere)
Winner of the Cristal for a Feature Film, the highest award at the Annecy International Festival of Animated Films, Funan is a powerful and beautiful story of a young mother’s fight and determination to hold on to her family during unspeakably trying times. During the Khmer Rouge madness of the 1970s in Phnom Penh, young mother Chou’s life is brutally disrupted when the population is deported to camps and she is separated from her 4-year-old son. While her world falls apart Cho remains steadfast in her determination to find her son and reunite her family even if it means risking everything.

I Want To Eat Your Pancreas
(Japan, dir: Shin’ichiro Ushijima - North American Premiere)
An unnamed protagonist happens to find a diary in a hospital one day. The diary belongs to his classmate, a girl named Sakura Yamauchi, who is revealed to be suffering from a terminal illness in her pancreas, and who only has a few months left to live. Sakura explains that the protagonist is the only person apart from her family that knows about her condition. The protagonist promises to keep Sakura’s secret.

(Japan, dir: Mamoru Hosoda - North American Premiere)
An official selection at Cannes Directors’ Fortnight, and the epic capstone of director Mamoru Hosoda’s career, Mirai is a sumptuous, magical, and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are. (Courtesy of GKIDS)

Okko’s Inn
(Japan, dir: Kitaro Kosaka - North American Premiere)
The story takes us into the daily life of Seki Oriko, a primary school pupil who, following the death of her parents, moves to live with her grandmother, the owner of a traditional inn. When not in class, the young girl works in the establishment and grows up little by little with the help of the ghost Uri-Bo and other mysterious friends.

(Argentina/France, dir: Juan Antin - World Premiere)
It’s the day of the highly-anticipated village offering to their great spirit Pachamama, when the town is disrupted by an interloper from the Inca city far beyond the Andes. Tepulpaï, a young boy disgraced in the village sets off to prove himself virtuous and reclaim the town’s stolen treasure. He’s joined by his best friend, the idealistic Naira and an oh-so-charming llama and friend to make the ambitious journey across uncharted land where a host of unknown obstacles will come between them and the important treasure.

Penguin Highway
(Japan, dir: Hiroyasu Ishida - Los Angeles Premiere)
Aoyama-kun knows there are mysterious things happening around him, for one thing he’s seen a soda can turn into a penguin, but that’s not the end of it and he’s determined to get to the bottom of things. Despite being wildly intelligent and fiercely determined Aoyama-kun is only in 4th grade so he knows he may need some help in his ambitious research. He employs a select few trustworthy classmates including his loyal, if a little timid, best friend and a studious and wise girl. But his greatest ally and perhaps the key to the whole mystery is the strange young woman who works in a dental clinic. (Courtesy of Eleven Arts)

Ruben Brandt, Collector
(HUNGARY, dir: Milorad Krstic – U.S. Premiere)
The world’s most renowned masterpieces are being swiped from museums around the world, paintings by Picasso, Van Gogh, Botticelli and more are being taken but it’s clear to all, especially Mike Kowalski, the detective on the case, that this is no ordinary thief. (Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics)

(USA, dir: Nina Paley - Los Angeles Premiere)
Loosely following a traditional Passover Seder, events from the Book of Exodus are retold by Moses, Aharon, the Angel of Death, Jesus, and the director’s own father. But there’s another side to this story: that of the Goddess, humankind’s original deity. Seder-Masochism resurrects the Great Mother in a tragic struggle against the forces of Patriarchy.

Tito and the Birds
(Brazil, dirs: Gabriel Bitar, Andre Catoto, Gustavo Steinberg - U.S. Premiere)
The most recent example of the wildly imaginative and creative animation coming out of South America, Tito and the Birds is a beautiful and adventure packed story that finds an imaginative way to speak to highly resonant themes for today’s society. The film is a unique blend of animation styles that particularly soars when its depicting the epic flights of the winged creatures of the city. (Courtesy of Shout! Studios)

2018 JURY

Peter Debruge
(Chief Film Critic, Variety/Jury Chair)
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, his writing on film has appeared in Entertainment Weekly, Life, Creative Screenwriting, Backstory and IndieWire. Peter also contributed to the book Variety’s The Movie That Changed My Life.

Allison Abbate
(EVP, Warner Animation Group)
Allison Abbate is an executive vice president at Warner Animation Group (WAG), a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment. Abbate was an executive producer on the global blockbuster 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.

Kobe Bryant
(Oscar winner and NBA superstar)
Kobe Bryant is a five-time NBA Champion. EPSN. Dear Basketball won the 2018 Academy Award, and the 2017 Annie Award in the Animated Short category.

Melissa Cobb
(VP, Kids and Family, Netflix)
Melissa Cobb is Vice President, Kids and Family at Netflix, the world’s leading internet entertainment service. 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.

Dean DeBlois
(Director/Filmmaker, How To Train Your Dragon 1 & 2)
Golden Globe winner and two-time Academy Award nominee Dean DeBlois is best known for writing, directing, and executive producing 2010’s How to Train Your Dragon and its 2014 sequel.

Carolyn Giardina
(Editor, The Hollywood Reporter)
Carolyn Giardina is Tech Editor at The Hollywood Reporter and writes its “Behind the Screen” blog. Her work as an editor, reporter or columnist has also appeared in titles such as CinemaEditor, SHOOT, British Cinematographer and SMPTE Motion Imaging Journal.

Jorge Gutierrez
(Filmmaker, The Book of Life)
Jorge R. Gutiérrez is a painter, writer and director. He and his wife Sandra Equihua created the multiple Emmy Award-winning animated television series, El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera for Nickelodeon, and he most recently 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.

Jennifer Yuh Nelson
(Filmmaker, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3)
Jennifer Yuh Nelson made her feature film directorial debut with Kung Fu Panda 2. Nelson 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.

Henry Selick
(Filmmaker, Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline)
Henry Selick is best known as the writer/director of the Oscar-nominated animated feature Coraline and the director of James and the Giant Peach and classic The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Charles Solomon
(Animation Historian and Critic)
An internationally respected critic and historian of animation, Charles Solomon has written on the subject for the New York Times, Newsweek (Japan), Rolling Stone, he 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,” and “Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation.”

Mabel Tam
(VP and Head Film Buyer, Landmark Theatres)
Mabel Tam is VP/Head Film Buyer of Landmark Theatres, the nation’s largest theatre chain dedicated to exhibiting and marketing independent film. A 16-year veteran of the entertainment industry, she is a graduate of UCLA and lives with her family in Los Angeles.

Anne Thompson
(Critic, 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, and deputy editor of, was the 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.

ANIMATION IS FILM aims to fill a gap in the market by establishing the first world class animation festival in the U.S., with its home in the world capital of filmmaking. The Festival embraces the highest aspirations of animation as a cinematic art form on par with live action filmmaking and will be vocal advocate for filmmakers who push the boundaries of their work to the fullest range of expression that the medium is capable of.