The Oscar-qualifying New York International Children’s Film Festival has announced the opening weekend lineup for its 2017 event. The 20th anniversary edition runs February 24 through March 19, presenting the nation’s largest film festival for kids and teens and showcasing animated, live-action, documentary and experimental shorts and features from about 30 countries.
Tickets are on sale Jan. 18 for members and Jan. 24 for the public through nyicff.org.
The festival’s Opening Weekend features a trio of acclaimed animated features: Claude Barras’ My Life as a Zucchini, Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer’s Revolting Rhymes and Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name.
My Life as a Zucchini, dir. Claude Barras (Switzerland/France)
East Coast premiere, in English. Recommended ages 11+.
“Zucchini” may sound like a weird name, but after the accidental death of his mother, the nickname is all the nine-year-old has left of her. The kids at his new group home seem to understand and, though hesitant at first, Zucchini soon finds himself part of their close-knit, makeshift family. So upon the arrival of latest newcomer Camille, he is quick to offer his own warm welcome. But when Camille’s greedy aunt tries to take her away, Zucchini and his newfound friends must find a way to stay together. With its beautifully expressive stop-motion style, My Life as a Zucchini tackles sometimes heavy subject matter with a light touch, conveying the children’s perseverance through precarious circumstances through the matter-of-fact lens of childhood.
Revolting Rhymes, dir. Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer (UK)
North American premiere, in English. Recommended ages 6+.
Forget everything you thought you knew about Little Red Riding Hood. And Cinderella. And the Three Little Pigs… In “Revolting Rhymes,” Roald Dahl reimagined six classic fairy tales with his characteristically sardonic wit. Now his twisted tales come to life in two wondrously animated featurettes. These new stories have slightly rougher edges: a greedy pig banker pilfering Red Riding Hood’s hard-earned savings, a Cinderella less than thrilled with her post-ball prospects, and a Snow White who hightails it into the big city. And yet, compassion somehow miraculously holds on. Gallows humor, guffaws, knowing laughs, and sighs of relief all have their turn in this wicked and visually sumptuous tale, delicious enough to become a classic in its own right.
February 25 (Opening Spotlight):
Your Name., dir. Makoto Shinkai (Japan)
New York premiere, in Japanese with English subtitles. Recommended ages 10+.
The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. Total strangers Mitsuha and Taki live their teenage lives in separate cities until suddenly, for reasons unknown, they switch bodies. Beyond all of the physical awkwardness of their strange new bodies, they must learn to navigate each other’s social realms and habits as they continue to swap back and forth unexpectedly. Incredibly, they adapt and form an intense bond by leaving each other messages. But can they manipulate fate and the destructive forces of the heavens to meet in person? Written, directed, and animated by anime master Makoto Shinkai (NYICFF 2008’s 5 Centimeters Per Second) in his stunningly detailed signature style and a box office record-breaker in Japan, the film’s world is one where teenagers are full of sensitivity in the best sense: open to every experience and exchange, and eager to truly know one another.