The first Niigata International Animation Film Festival (NIAFF) will unspool March 17-22, 2023 in the Japanese port city of Niigata, about 200 miles north of Tokyo.
Here are the early details:
- NIAFF will take place annually, and is dedicated to elevating animated features from around the world. It will host screenings of theatrical features, features from streaming platforms, and tv series reformatted as features. The submission window for next year’s event will open this November.
- Universities, animation schools, and studios will be invited to collaborate on organizing events including training workshops, conferences, and industry and market seminars. According to the festival announcement, Niigata will help develop “new theories on the world of animation, on topics rarely discussed at the international level, and create a space for critical thinking within the festival.”
- The inaugural Niigata festival team includes jury president Mamoru Oshii, director of Ghost in the Shell; festival director Shinichiro Inoue, former editor in chief of Newtype; artistic director Tadashi Sudo, an animation journalist; and secretary general Taro Maki, producer of In This Corner of the World and Mobile Police Patlabor.
- Thirty to thirty-five features will screen in the festival’s first year, 10-12 of which will feature in a competition section. There will also be sidebars focusing on global trends, awards for people and productions that contribute to the evolution of animation, “The Manga Gaze” program exploring the existing relationship between animation and comics, retrospectives, an academic program with an industry seminar and conference, and several symposiums and workshops for animation students.
- NIAFF is organized by an executive committee chaired by Eurospace producer Kenzo Horikoshi (Annette, Like Someone in Love). Film distributor and cinema operator Eurospace and anime production company Genco will produce the event, which is operating with an initial budget of around 50 million JPY (US$393,000).
- The city of Niigata is more than capable of hosting a festival like NIAFF. It’s currently home to the Niigata Anime/Manga Festival, which averages 50,000 attendees each year; the Niigata City Manga and Anime Information Center for the promotion of manga and animation; and the Niigata City Manga House, a library hosting more than 10,000 volumes.