The Oscar-qualifying New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival has unveiled the complete feature film slate for its 2019 edition, taking place February 22 through March 17. Now in its 22nd year, the world-leading Festival will present four weekends of shorts and features, panels with filmmakers, interactive experiences and more — carefully curated for audiences of all ages, across an array of styles, themes and subjects.
NYICFF continues to be a t the forefront of discovering fresh animation talent from around the world. Highlights of the 2019 program include the East Coast premiere of Juan Antin’s Pachamama (which will help open the 2019 Festival) — an enchanting visit to indigenous culture through a history and landscape rarely seen in animation. Michel Ocelot’s latest movie Dilili in Paris, a curious caper set in Belle Epoque Paris, will make its U.S. Premiere. The new TV 2D/3D TV series Moominvalley will have its World Theatrical Premiere. Plus, intriguing anime titles such as Kitaro Kosaka’s Okko’s Inn (English-language World Premiere) and Penguin Highway — the debut film from Studio Colorido, founded by former Ghibli animators.
“We are thrilled to showcase the diversity of outstanding filmmaking from around the world at NYICFF 2019 and demonstrate that multidimensional storytelling and artful approaches know no boundaries in terms of age range, genre or country,” said Programming Director Maria-Christina Villaseñor. “Kids and families are as hungry for artful, meaningful stories as adult audiences, whether told through live action, documentary, or animation, and all will be richly rewarded through an impressive slate of international titles at NYICFF 2019.”
Details on the 2019 animated feature selections below. View the full program (so far) at nyicff.org.
PACHAMAMA, dir. Juan Antin (France/Luxembourg/Canada) — 2018, East Coast Premiere, Animation, 72 minutes; in English
Tepulpai’s your average kid—headstrong and a bit naughty. It may seem unusual that he has a pet armadillo and wants to be a shaman, but not if you live in the ancient Peruvian Andes like he and his wise friend Naïra do. The two embark on a young heroes’ quest to locate their community’s stolen treasure and must confront the Inca and newly arrived Spanish to retain their indigenous ways. With a vibrantly-hued palette and Pre-Colombian soundtrack of ancient flutes and condor wings, Pachamama exuberantly celebrates nature, culture, and community.
DILILI IN PARIS, dir. Michel Ocelot (France/Belgium/Germany) — 2018, U.S. Premiere, Animation, 95 minutes; in French with English subtitles
Travel to the bustling cafe culture of Paris in the Belle Epoque with Dilili, a bright young girl with perfect diction, grace, and eagle-eyed smarts as she begins to investigate a nefarious plot by the ominous Master Men. Together with Orel, a delivery boy who ferries her around jewel-toned Paris as an only expert animator (NYICFF alum and Kirikou creator) Michel Ocelot could conceive, Dilili will stop at nothing until justice is restored. Our supersleuths journey through a turn-of-the-century world so evocative, you just might spot Picasso, Proust, or Marie Curie in the substrates and salons of the City of Lights.
GORDON & PADDY, dir. Linda Hambäck (Sweden) — 2017, East Coast Premiere, Animation, 65 minutes; in Swedish with English subtitles
Gordon is an ace detective, but even he’ll admit he’s ready to hang up his badge. Luckily, he recognizes fresh talent in Paddy, a young rodent wise beyond her years and eager to break the grass — er, glass — ceiling. When Paddy gets the chance to crack the case of the purloined acorns, she’s got a mystery to solve and a slew of woodland creatures’ speculations to manage. This warm and witty police procedural for the junior set shows how generational divides can turn to bridges, and that even baddies have their good sides.
MINUSCULE – MANDIBLES FROM FAR AWAY, dir. Thomas Szabo & Hélène Giraud (France) — 2018, U.S. Premiere, Animation, 90 minutes; no dialogue
“Ladybug, ladybug, fly away home…” the rhyme goes, but try heeding that when you’re a quarter of an inch long and home is 4,000 miles away! When accidentally boxed into a chestnut shipment, the ladybug of Minuscule is inadvertently shipped to a Caribbean isle. Its parents embark on an odyssey to find it while, on the island, beachfront developers are threatening native habitats. A wild ride ensues — it’s a bug-eyed ecological view made more eye-popping as a live-action animation hybrid shot in lush Guadeloupe.
MOOMINVALLEY, dir. Steve Box (Finland/U.K.) — 2019, World Theatrical Premiere, Animation, 44 minutes; in English
They may hail from faraway Finland, but artist/novelist Tove Jansson’s cuddly, quasi-philosophical, not-quite-hippo creatures have a huge international following and were last seen at NYICFF 2014. This exciting new series is an evocative mix of 2D and 3D animation bringing the Moomintroll family to vivid life as they adventure through the mystical islets and fjords of their glacial world. Rosamund Pike leads a top-notch voice cast as Moominmamma, wisely grounding the family’s insatiable curiosity as they seek the shadowy Groke and luminescent Hattifatteners.
OKKO’S INN, dir. Kitarō Kōsaka (Japan) — 2018, World Premiere English Language Version, Animation, 94 minutes; in English
Bright-eyed Okko has joined her grandmother at their family-run, hot springs inn, rolling up her sleeves to learn the traditional ways. Her way to deal with the recent loss of her parents is to work diligently and think of others instead of herself. She does great, though as a city kid the country creatures make her jumpy, as does a surprising new friend she finds “spirited” in more ways than one. Okko’s Inn beautifully addresses themes of loss, altruism, and love, while offering that — even in the face of challenges — compassion, and delight, can and will abound.
PENGUIN HIGHWAY, dir. Hiroyasu Ishida (Japan) — 2018, Animation, 118 minutes; in Japanese with English subtitles
Precocious Aoyama is crazy for science. He calculates the days until he is grown up and keeps a scientific notebook at the ready. He’s got hypotheses and independent variables down pat. But some topics he hasn’t mastered: How do the laws of attraction operate? What is this emerging feeling for his hygienist-turned-tutor? As if puberty isn’t enough of a mystery, he must uncover what’s causing hordes of kawaii penguins to invade his suburban town, with help from the bright girl in his class. A charming tangle of scientific principles, fantastical physics, and baffling hormonal surges, Penguin Highway’s destination is the journey, all right.