Animation is Film (AIF) announced today the preliminary competition lineup and jury for its second annual edition, set to take place October 19-21 at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. 

The festival, produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy Int’l Animated Film Festival, Variety, and Fathom Events, provides a much-needed promotional platform for all of the international and independent animated features that often struggle to draw attention in the United States, where Hollywood content dominates the multiplexes.

Or as GKIDS CEO Eric Beckman puts it, “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.”

The 11 animated features in this years competition line-up include new films from Asia, Europe, South America, and North America. Nine of those films will have their U.S. premieres at the festival, and two of them will have their world premieres: Buñuel in the Labyrinth of the Turtles from Spain and Pachamama from Argentina and France.

AIF has selected Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai as the opening film of the festival. Hosoda will attend the event, and will also present a retrospective of some of his other films: Wolf Children, The Boy and the Beast, Summer Wars, and The Girl who Leapt Through Time.

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased at Cartoon Brew is proud to be a media sponsor for the event.

The list of films in competition is below, followed by the jury members for this year’s event:

  • Another Day of Life
    (Poland/Spain, dirs: Raul de la Fuente, Damian Nenow – USA 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.
  • Funan
    (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.
  • Mirai
    (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.
  • Pachamama
    (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 – US 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)
  • Seder-Masochism
    (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 – USA 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 Animation is Film jury members

  • Peter DeBruge (Chief Film Critic, Variety/Jury Chair)
  • Allison Abbate (EVP, Warner Animation Group)
  • Kobe Bryant(Oscar winner and NBA superstar)
  • Melissa Cobb (VP, Kids and Family, Netflix)
  • Dean DeBlois (Director / Filmmaker, How to Train your Dragon 1 & 2)
  • Carolyn Giardina (Editor, The Hollywood Reporter)
  • Jorge Gutierrez (Filmmaker, The Book of Life)
  • Jennifer Yuh Nelson (Filmmaker, Kung Fu Panda 2 & 3)
  • Henry Selick (Filmmaker, Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline)
  • Charles Solomon (Critic and Historian)
  • Mabel Tam (VP and Head Film Buyer, Landmark Theatres)
  • Anne Thompson (Critic, Indiewire)

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