FIAF’s Animation First Festival 2020 programme announced

The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) has announced the programme for the 2020 Animation First Festival.  Showcasing France’s animation studios and schools, this year’s schedule includes 15 premieres, award-winning features and shorts, immersive exhibits, virtual reality and video game demonstrations, panels with filmmakers and more. The festival runs between 7 to 9 February at FIAF’s New York City center. 
Jean-François Laguionie
Animation First Festival is set to open with the U.S. premiere of The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily (2019) by illustrator Lorenzo Mattotti. This adaptation of the 1945 Italian children’s book by Dino Buzzati marks the debut feature by Mattotti, best known for New Yorker covers and graphic novels. This year, Jean-François Laguionie is the guest of honour, who has received accolades as an influential contemporary animation filmmaker. The festival will host the U.S. premiere of his The Prince’s Voyage (2019) as well as a screening of his film, Louise by the Shore (2016).  FIAF will also showcase a newly restored print of his debut feature Gwen and the Book of Sand (1982), and a programme of his shorts including his award-winning Rowing Across the Atlantic. The Painting (2011), will be shown in two programmes for young audiences. The director will lead a discussion of his career and preview excerpts of his forthcoming film Slocum. In addition to that, Laguionie will also be conducting masterclasses with students at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts. The event will also feature the NY premiere of Anca Damian’s Marona’s Fantastic Tale (2019), nominated for Best Feature at the 2019 Annecy International Animated Film Festival. The festival will pull down its curtains with the 2020 César-Nominated Short Animated films, showcasing France’s most notable achievements in this category over the past year. Animation First, in partnership with the New York Institute of Technology, will present the U.S. premiere of Notre Dame de Paris, The Age of the Builders (2019). This look at the grand cathedral’s 850-year history, leading up to the tragic fire on 16 April 2019, and will be followed by a Q&A with director Emmanuel Blanchard and motion-capture specialist Jean-François Szlapka.
Marona’s Fantastic Tale
There will be a special presentation of Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec’s debut movie The Swallows of Kabul (2019). This adaptation of the novel by Yasmina Khadra was introduced to New York audiences during a work-in-progress presentation at the 2019 edition of Animation First. Works-in-Progress, Behind-the-Scenes, Discussions:
  • Benjamin Massoubre, editor of the award-winning I Lost My Body (2019), will give a behind-the- scenes presentation into the creation of this film, following a free screening of the feature.
  • Directors Phuong Mai Nguyen and Charlotte Cambon de Lavalette will discuss the process of adapting Penelope Bagieu’s best-selling graphic novel Brazen, which highlights the lives of 30 extraordinary women.
  • Cambon de Lavalette and Nguyen will be joined by director Anca Damian, writer Anik Leray, and producer Valérie Schermann for a “Women in Animation” panel discussing equal representation in the industry.
  • Lorenzo Mattotti will discuss his debut feature film, The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily, and his work as an illustrator with New Yorker art editor Françoise Mouly.
  • Director Jérémie Périn (Lastman) will present clips from his debut feature film, sci-fi thriller Mars Express, along with screenwriter Laurent Sarfati and producer Didier Crest.
Visitors will also be able to sample an array of new video games and virtual reality programs including the 14-minute documentary, Accused #2, Walter Sisulu. Using restored audio recordings, the documentary takes you inside the trial of Walter Sisulu, an anti-apartheid activist in South Africa. Also, on display is the interactive virtual reality puzzle, A Fisherman’s Tale, and Gloomy Eyes, a virtual reality experience, voiced by Colin Farrell. “As we launch our third Animation First festival, we see this medium excel at sharing the untellable and depicting the unimaginable,” commented festival co-curators, Delphine Selles-Alvarez and Catherine Lamairesse.”  The 2020 Animation First Festival will be held at the French Institute Alliance Française, New York. The main screenings will be held in FIAF’s Florence Gould Hall while Panel Discussions and Works-in-Progress will be held in FIAF’s Skyroom.