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An extensive series of French animated features, series, and shorts will screen in Manhattan this weekend (February 2-4) as part of the French Institute Alliance Française’s Animation First festival.

The FIAF organizers describe it as “the first-ever French animation festival in the United States,” with the goal of promoting French Animation in the US. It’s a worthwhile cause considering that France is the largest producer of European animation and the globe’s third-largest exporter of animated film. At the same time, due to the country’s massive animation output, this festival only begins to scratch the surface of French animation.

The programming at Animation First looks incredibly varied, from historical screenings of silent French animation with live musical accompaniment to a screening of the recent tv series Lastman, and from kids’ films like Minuscule: The Valley of the Lost Ants to a screening of recent student shorts produced at EMCA (Ecole des Métiers du Cinéma d’Animation) with the school’s animation program director Serge Elissalde in person. (In a separate program, Elissalde will also present the kids’ featurette Loulou and Other Wolves which he co-directed.)

The Red Turtle will also be shown, followed by a making-of session presented by director Michael Dudok de Wit. Other highlights are a screening of René Laloux’s iconic 1973 film Fantastic Planet, and a work-in-progress look at Tim Ollive’s mixed-media feature 1884: Yesterday’s Future, an “absurdist historical recreation of the future in 1884, made in 1848 at a time when motion pictures hadn’t yet been made.” Terry Gilliam is the creative adviser of the latter project.

Tickets are available to individual screenings and discussions, or a three-day pass to all the events can be purchased for $120. For ticket and venue info, as well as a full list of programs, visit the FIAF website.

Animation First is co-curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF’s film curator, and Catherine Lamairesse, director of special proejcts at FIAF.

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