New York, NY (January 12, 2023) — The French Institute Alliance Française presents the sixth edition of Animation First, the only U.S. festival dedicated to French animation. The 2023 festival runs from Friday, January 27 through Sunday, January 29 and will present seven feature-length films (including four U.S. and three NY premieres), and six short film programs with over 65 new shorts. The complete Animation First program will comprise filmmaker conversations, three “Work in Progress” presentations, a selection of video games and AR-VR experiences, and student shorts programs. Animation First curators are Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF Film Curator, and Chloé Dheu, FIAF Film Coordinator.
Opening the festival on Friday, January 27 will be the NY premiere of Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre’s Little Nicholas: Happy As Can Be. Little Nicholas is a charming rendition of artist Jean-Jacques Sempé’s and René Goscinny’s lives which co-exist within the fictitious adventures of Le Petit Nicolas, the beloved French children’s character. The film is being presented in conjunction with the FIAF Gallery exhibition: Signature Sempé. The exhibition will consist of a selection of Sempé’s most iconic works, including quintessential drawings from Le Petit Nicolas and New Yorker cover designs that will be on view during the festival and through April 7 in the FIAF Gallery. Additionally, there will be a conversation with the Little Nicholas filmmakers, gallerist Martine Gossieaux, and New Yorker artistic director Françoise Mouly examining the allure and longevity of Sempé and Le Petit Nicolas on January 28.
The Animation First 2023 Guest of Honor is award-winning screenwriter and director, Anca Damian. Damian will present the NY premiere of her mixed media animated film, The Island (The Island was an Animation First 2021 ‘Work in Progress’ presentation) on Sunday, January 29. Following the screening, there will be a conversation with Damian where she will discuss her new film and the augmented reality companion piece, In Search of Paradise.
The closing night film on Sunday, January 29 will be the U.S. premiere of Alain Ughetto’s stop motion feature, No Dogs or Italians Allowed. Told as a fictional dialog between the filmmaker and his grandmother, the film details the lives of Italian immigrants who fled poverty and fascism. Other 2023 feature films include the NY premiere of Alberto Vázquez’s Unicorn Wars, an anti-war allegory; the U.S. premiere of Michael Ocelot’s The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess, three tales celebrating courage in the face of injustice; the U.S. premiere of Pierre Földes’ Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman, based on short stories by Haruki Murakami, and recently added directors cut of the 1987 film, Gandahar.
This year’s festival will include six short film programs: Best of Annecy, Best of Annecy Kids, New Francophone Shorts programs, Student Shorts Competition and RECA, the French Animation School Network. There will also be three ‘Work in Progress’ presentations for 2023: Sepideh Farsi’s The Siren, Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach’s Chicken for Linda, and artist Cédric Babouche and producer Aymeric Castaing’s video game Dordogne. Throughout the festival, the FIAF Library will be free and open to the public to experience video games and virtual reality films from French studios and distributors.
The complete Animation First 2023 schedule can be found here.
About Animation First
Created in 2018, Animation First is the only film festival in the United States dedicated to French animation.
Today, France is Europe’s largest producer and the world’s third-largest exporter of animated film. Since its beginnings in the late 19th century when Émile Reynaud projected his Pantomimes Lumineuses at the Musée Grevin in Paris, the French animation industry has inspired filmmakers and artists. Their resulting experiments with puppets, cutouts, and stop motion, have been instrumental in inventing important techniques in cinema. Renowned for its stylistic innovation and an approach that integrates artisanal methods with technological ingenuity, French animation continues to garner awards worldwide and spans a diversity of genres. It is responsible for a variety of films from independent art-house successes such as Sylvain Chomet’s The Triplets of Belleville and Michael Dudok de Wit’s The Red Turtle to those for mature audiences like Persepolis and I Lost My Body to the Franco-American Despicable Me franchise.
Beyond films, France has carved out an important space in animated TV programs, web series, video games, and the rapidly developing fields of virtual reality and new technologies.