The inaugural Animation is Film Festival supplied a family night of fun and culture on Friday at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre in Hollywood.
Among the guests to arrive at the opening night and U.S. premiere of “The Breadwinner” was producer Angelina Jolie, with children Shiloh and Zahara in tow. Before the screening of the fest’s first premiere, Jolie-Pitt introduced the film she described to be “so exquisitely done and very important.”
The animated film is based on Deborah Ellis’ children’s novel of the same name, which follows a young girl in Afghanistan who disguises herself as a boy to provide for her family.
“There are few countries in the world where it is harder to be a young girl, where barriers between girls and their dreams and their rights are so high and so painful to experience and observe,” Jolie said, adding that the story was also able to highlight Afghanistan’s “deep humility, rich culture and a resilient warm people.”
She also thanked the crew and director Nora Twomey, who was seated in the crowd along with the voice actress of the film’s protagonist, Saara Chaudry.
“It’s not just an Afghan story,” Jolie added. “It’s a story of our times and a story of a world in which equal rights for women remain a central burning issue of our time.”
A Q&A, featuring Twomey and Chaudry along with composers Mychael and Jeff Danna, followed the screening. Topics of discussion included the lengths production went to in order to make the story as authentic to Afghan culture as possible, as well as how the score and characters came together on screen.
GKids CEO Eric Beckman, who is also the festival founder and artistic director, welcomed the crowd of animation fans by sharing his mission to encourage filmmakers to grasp new technology.
“I have a theory that the best animated films have not been made yet,” Beckman stated.
Variety’s chief film critic Peter Debruge, who will chair the inaugural competition jury, also said a few words about the importance of celebrating animation as a medium.
“The reason we’re calling it ‘Animation is Film’ is, for whatever reason, no festival dedicated to animation exists in the U.S. that celebrates the medium in all its many facets,” Debruge said.
The Animation is Film Festival, presented by GKIDS, Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Variety and ASIFA-Hollywood, runs until Oct. 22 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatre.
|“The Breadwinner” producer Angelina Jolie poses on the carpet with daughter Zahara Jolie-Pitt and star Saara Chaudry.