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Animation Is Film Festival Unveils Full Slate and Jury

The first Animation Is Film Festival has announced its full slate of films and events, and has finalized its competition jury.

Added to the previously announced selection of films in competition are the North American premiere of “Fireworks, Should We See It From the Side or the Bottom” by Nobuyuki Takeuchi and Akiyuki Shinbo, which will screen on opening night, Friday, Oct. 20; the West Coast premiere of “Mutafukaz” by Guillaume Renard and Shoujirou Nishimi; the U.S. premiere of “Night Is Short, Walk on Girl,” by Masaaki Yuasa; and the world premiere of “Tropical Virus,” which will screen on Saturday, Oct. 21, at 7 p.m., followed by a Q&A with director Santiago Caicedo.

Previously announced competition films are “The Breadwinner,” directed by Nora Twomey, one of Variety’s 2017 10 Animators to Watch; “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales” by Patrick Imbert and Benjamin Renner; “Big Fish and Begonia” by Liang Xua and Zhang Chun; “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children” by Alberto Vazquez and Pedro Rivero; “Lu Over the Wall” by Masaaki Yuasa; “Mary and the Witch’s Flower” by Hiromasa Yonebayashi; “Tehran Taboo” by Ali Soozandeh; and “Zombillenium” by Arthur de Pins (another of Variety’s 10 Animators to Watch this year) and Alexis Ducord. All of the films will be making either their U.S. or North American premieres.

On Friday, Oct. 20, the screening of festival opener “The Breadwinner” will be followed by a Q&A with Twomey, who co-directed the Oscar-nominated “The Secret of Kells.”

On Saturday, Oct. 21, a screening of “The Big Bad Fox & Other Tales” will be followed by a Q&A with Imbert and Renner, and a Q&A with Vazquez and Rivero will follow the screening of “Birdboy: The Forgotten Children.”

Yonebayashi will take part in a Q&A following the Sunday, Oct. 22, screening of “Mary and the Witch’s Flower.” Other Q&As on Sunday include talks with Soozandeh following a screening of “Tehran Taboo,” and with de Pins and Ducord following “Zombillenium.”

The weekend’s other events include an 80th anniversary screening of Disney’s classic “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a program of surreal shorts from the 1930s, a screening of 2004’s “Mind Games,” a screening of Pixar’s 2004 hit “The Incredibles” featuring a Q&A with producer John Walker and a sneak peak at Pixar’s upcoming “Coco,” and a screening of “The LEGO Batman Movie” along with a talk with the filmmakers.

Another feature of the festival will be the VR Flicker Lounge, which will screen an array of titles including the Los Angeles premieres of Google Spotlight Stories’ latest VR shorts, “Son of Jaguar” by “Book of Life” director Jorge R. Gutierrez, and Scot Stafford and Chromosphere’s “Sonaria.”

Brenda Chapman, the Oscar-winning director of Pixar’s “Brave,” the Hollywood Reporter’s tech editor Carolyn Giardina, and IndieWire editor-at-large Anne Thompson have been added to the festival’s inaugural competition jury. The jury will be chaired by Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge. Other jury members are Gutierrez, Warner Bros. executive VP of theatrical animation Allison Abbate, DreamWork’s Animation’s Bonnie Arnold, film critic and historian Charles Solomon, and Landmark Cinemas’ head film buyer Mabel Tam.

The festival, produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Film Festival and Variety, with additional sponsors and media partners Google and Fathom Events, looks to fill a niche in the U.S. for a world-class animation film festival. It will be held Oct. 20-22 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theater in Los Angeles. Juried and audience prizes will be awarded.

Tickets are on sale now at animationisfilm.com.

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