About the Festival
Celebrating France’s rich tradition as a pioneer of animation, FIAF presents the 2020 Animation First Festival, showcasing the vast history, enduring ingenuity, and diversity of France’s renowned animation studios and schools. Benefiting from a burgeoning animation field poised to enter a historic awards season, this year’s schedule includes 18 premieres, award-winning features and shorts, immersive exhibits, virtual reality and video game demonstrations, insightful panels with filmmakers, and more.
Guest of Honor: Jean-François Laguionie
The Festival will honor legendary director Jean-François Laguionie, presenting the US Premiere of his most recent film The Prince’s Voyage (2019), as well as his film Louise by the Shore (2016). Laguionie is one of the most important contemporary animation filmmakers, and he has been fittingly celebrated with awards, retrospectives, exhibitions, and restorations of his early works. FIAF will present newly restored print of his debut feature Gwen and the Book of Sand (1982), and a program of his shorts including his breakthrough “Rowing Across the Atlantic,” which received a Palme d’Or at Cannes. His acclaimed The Painting (2011), will be shown in two programs geared toward young audiences, and the director himself will discuss his storied career and preview excerpts of his forthcoming film Slocum. In conjunction with the Festival, Laguionie will conduct masterclasses with students at the Pratt Institute and the School of Visual Arts.
From the Curators
“As we launch our third Animation First festival, we see this medium excel at telling the untellable and depicting the unimaginable. Jean-François Laguionie was a pioneer in pushing animation beyond children’s stories to the realms of science fiction and philosophical themes. Meanwhile Zabou Breitman and Elea Gobbé-Mévellec find humanity in the depths of unthinkable cruelty through the ethereal The Swallows of Kabul. And this year we see the Notre Dame of Paris come to life through 3D technology in Notre Dame du Paris, The Age of Builders. Each work presents its own world with a unique aesthetic and memorable characters, and we are thrilled to share them with New York audiences.”
Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF’s Film Curator
Catherine Lamairesse, Director of Special Projects at FIAF
About Animation First
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 early 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 to big-budget blockbusters Ballerina 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.
Animation First is presented by FIAF whose mission is to create and offer New Yorkers innovative and unique programs in education and the arts that explore the evolving diversity and richness of French cultures. FIAF seeks to generate new ideas and promote cross cultural dialogue through partnerships and new platforms of expression.