Animation First 2021
Friday, February 5–Monday, February 15
Entirely Online & Nationwide • Festival Pass Only $20
“Animation First always offers fresh perspectives on France.”
— The New York Times (5 Things to Do This Weekend, Feb 4, 2021)
“One of the essential film festivals, and a must-attend for admirers of animation.”
Join us for the fourth edition of Animation First, the only festival in the US dedicated to the enduring legacy and trailblazing innovation of French animation! Learn more about the Festival here.
This year, FIAF is honored to welcome special guest Wes Anderson, who has selected a few of his favorite animated films for the Festival.
In addition, the Festival will present more than 75 US and NY premieres of feature-length and short films, works in progress presentations, a new US and French student film competition, LIVE talks with acclaimed filmmakers, augmented and virtual reality programs, and more. Films will have English subtitles and all talks will be in English.
An affordable $20 pass provides access to the entire 11-day Festival. Explore the program below.
Back by Popular Demand
Friday, February 12, 2021, 6pm ET to Monday, February 15, 11:45pm ET
An award-winning feminist western from director Rémi Chayé about the early life and adventures of legendary Wild West figure Martha Jane Cannary.
A touching tribute from one illustrator to another, this award-winning debut feature film by Le Monde cartoonist Aurel recounts a painful chapter of French history through the life of Catalonian artist Josep Bartolí.
Long Way North
Rémi Chayé’s first animated feature film, Long Way North, released in 2015, tells the tale of Sacha, an adventuresome young girl in late 19th-century Russia.
Stinky Dog, Happy Life in Paris!
The creators of A Town Called Panic are back with a new film featuring Chien Pourri, a naïve and filthy dog who lives in a Parisian trash can with Chaplapla, his faithful feline friend. Both adults and children will discover Paris anew from a dog’s eye level in this charming quadrupedal adventure.
The King and the Mockingbird
This gem by the legendary French animator Paul Grimault—based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen—follows a shepherdess and chimney sweep on the run from a tyrannical king with some help from a talking bird. This wildly satirical and surreal masterpiece tells of the corrupting nature of power.
This essential documentary gives voice to victims of sexual violence across the globe. Using the courageous testimony of victims as well as interviews from journalists, academics, and political leaders, Zero Impunity is part of a global social impact movement to raise awareness of this vital issue.
Wes Anderson Selects
For the first time, Animation First has invited an acclaimed American filmmaker to be a special guest of the Festival: Wes Anderson, director of Fantastic Mr. Fox and the forthcoming The French Dispatch. An avowed fan of animation, Anderson has selected four films that have inspired him to be shown during the Festival. In addition, the Festival will screen Anderson’s Isle of Dogs during the closing weekend.
Wes Anderson’s selection of the rarely screened Hindi- and French-dubbed versions of Bambi lends a quirky twist to this classic tale. Disney’s quintessential masterpiece remains as beautiful and timely as ever, one of the first environmental films and a poignant commentary against violence.
Isle of Dogs
Set in Japan, Isle of Dogs, follows a young boy’s epic journey in search of his lost dog. Wes Anderson’s second feature-length animated film, this charming stop-motion sci-fi was nominated for an Oscar, a Golden Globe, and a BAFTA.
The Plague Dogs
In this stunning adaptation of Richard Adams’s eponymous novel, two dogs, Snitter and Rowf, break out of a research laboratory. Once free, they meet Tod, a cunning fox, who helps them survive in the wild.
Peter and the Wolf
Unlike previous animated adaptations of this classic fairy tale, director Suzie Templeton forgoes a narrator and sets Prokofiev’s beloved score in the harsh modern-day Russian countryside. Charming, beautiful, intense, and dark, Peter and the Wolf won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Animated Short.
A Doonesbury Special
This blast to the past based on Garry Trudeau’s popular “Doonesbury” comic strip originally aired on NBC in 1977.
TV Specials & Web Series
My Life in Versailles
Recently orphaned, 8-year-old Violette is sent to live with her uncle Régis, who works as a groundskeeper at the Palace of Versailles. At first, Violette hates him. Régis is not keen on being her caretaker either. On the manicured grounds of Versailles and in the opulent rooms of the castle, Violette and Régis learn to trust each other.
Ages 3 & up
This heartwarming tale is set in a seaside town inspired by a lush Louisiana bayou. Born in the midst of a storm, baby owl Shooom must fend for herself and her unhatched sibling before she even leaves her nest. Against all odds, she is determined to find her mother, be it an alligator or a squirrel.
Fail in Love
Funny, quirky, and at times cruel, this web series illustrates real-life dating mishaps, fantasies, and creepy encounters. Through these personal stories, we see traditional and new means of seduction, as well as the triumphs and pitfalls caused by apps and their algorithms.
What if 007 was a woman? This riveting series follows a journalist as she interviews the spies who penetrated top-secret government circles.
Aya of Yop City
This 2013 feature adapts the best-selling graphic novels by Marguerite Abouet about three teenage friends to the screen.
Focus on African Animation
This program of shorts brings together filmmakers from Ghana, Tunisia, Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Burkina Faso by way of Canada, showcasing the diverse storytelling and multifaceted filmmaking techniques across the continent.
New! Student Competition
New: US & French Student Short Film Competition
The 2021 Animation First Festival is launching a new Student Competition. It brings together emerging talents from six prestigious schools in the US and France. Five films will be selected from each one of the participating schools. The 30 entries will compete for juried awards as well as an audience award. Winners will be announced at a live ceremony on Sunday, February 14 at 2pm ET.
Shorts, Shorts, Shorts!
Special Tribute: The Animated World of Paul Grimault
A selection of newly restored shorts open a window into the imagination of Paul Grimault, an icon of French animation. They showcase his trademark poetic style, exquisite colors, and wry wit.
Best of Annecy Film Festival
The Annecy International Animation Film Festival is the biggest animated film festival in the world. Straight from the 2020 edition, the first to be held on a virtual platform, this program of films includes a series of notable award-winning shorts.
These shorts, based on recorded audio interviews and other documents, show animation at its best. In their recounting of real events, the invisible is brought to light and the unspoken surfaces.
Family Friendly Shorts
From enchanted worlds to coming of age themes, these shorts dazzle with an array of virtuoso techniques. Children and adults will be charmed by the use of puppets, stop motion, 2D drawings, watercolors, and pencil drawings.
New French Shorts
Straight from France, these two eclectic programs bring together films from established filmmakers as well as emerging talents. Each one opens up a unique world such as a parallel dimension or the surprisingly sensual side of PowerPoint.
Spotlight on Florence Miailhe
Over the course of her three-decade career in animation, Florence Miailhe has created a small but precious body of award-winning films. Her richly picturesque films often explore subjects such as femininity, the human body, and desire.
Talks and Works In Progress
Making of Calamity Jane
Moderated by filmmaker and professor Hsiang Chin Moe
Animation First opens with a bang with the US premiere of Calamity Jane, a feminist western about the early life of the legendary Wild West figure Martha Jane Cannary. Only available on opening night, the film will be followed the next day by a special behind-the-scenes discussion with director Rémi Chayé.
Making of Shooom’s Odyssey
Moderated by Professor Richard Neupert
Meet writer-producer Claire Paoletti and director Julien Bisaro, the creative team behind Shooom’s Odyssey, a heartwarming tale about a baby owl’s search for her mother.
Kristof Serrand’s Cabinet of Curiosities
In this wonder-filled journey through the mind of a brilliant animator, Kristof Serrand will guide us through the paintings, films, and artists that have influenced his work. After a long and storied tenure at DreamWorks, Serrand is now at Netflix.
Work In Progress:
Moderated by Animation First co-curator Delphine Selles-Alvarez
Anca Damian, director of 2019’s award-winning Marona’s Fantastic Tale, returns to Animation First to share her newest project, The Island, a musical comedy and “upside-down Robinson Crusoe” story set in the Mediterranean.
Work In Progress:
Sirocco and the Kingdom
of the Winds
Moderated by producer, distributor and president of Gkids, David Jesteadt
César Award–nominated Benoît Chieux discusses his much-anticipated feature film Sirocco and the Kingdom of the Winds. Two sisters embark on an unforgettable adventure when they find a secret passage and step into the extraordinary universe of their favorite book.
Making of Josep
Moderated by filmmaker and historian John Canemaker
Illustrator, graphic novelist, and Le Monde cartoonist Aurel will speak about his first feature film, a striking homage to illustrator Josep Bartolí. He will be joined by screenwriter Jean-Louis Milesi and Bartoli’s widow Bernice Bromberg.
Programs hosted by New York Tech
Create Your Own Augmented Reality with New York Tech
Learn to turn still images into moving pictures using a smart phone and Snapchat in this workshop with New York Tech professor Kevin Park and his graduate assistants.
Why the World Needs Animation
Join New York Tech and Animation First for a spirited discussion on the role of animation in our society.
Go inside one of the most desirable incubators for animated film, the International Residency for Animated Films at the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud in Loire Valley, and meet a new generation of French animators.
Making of The Crossing
Acclaimed artist and animator Florence Miailhe, interviewed by Dimitri Granovsky, speaks about her soon-to-be-released debut feature film, The Crossing. The highly anticipated film tells the story of two young migrants—a brother and a sister—left to fend for themselves after their parents’ arrest.
Interactive Graphic Novels
A pair of interactive graphic novels will be available during the Festival: the environmental parable Phallaina, and Panama Al Brown: A Mysterious Force, the story of a once famous but now forgotten boxer from the 1930s.
Discover hidden messages in the midst of everyday life with augmented reality projects that use smartphone technology to unlock secret images.
A selection of five immersive virtual reality experiences transport you to rich worlds that illuminate the past, bring great works of art to life, and open up new perspectives.
Festival Lead Sponsors
The Florence Gould Foundation, The Kleinschmidt Family Foundation, Pôle Image Magelis (Angoulême), and Tikehau Capital
Festival Supporting Sponsors
Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, JCDecaux, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, New York Tech, TV5Monde, and UniFrance