Animation First 2023 Program


Festival Weekend
Friday, January 27–Sunday, January 29
In Person at FIAF

Student Shorts
Monday, January 30–Sunday, February 12
Online on Eventive

Merci beaucoup to everyone who attended FIAF’s sixth annual Animation First Festival and congratulations to the winners of the Student Short Film Competition!

Presented by FIAF, Animation First is the only film festival in the U.S. dedicated to showcasing the legacy and innovation of francophone animation. With films for adults, teens, and kids, the festival is crafted to engage and entertain guests of various ages.

Award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker Anca Damian was this year’s Guest of Honor. The 2023 program included seven feature films (including four U.S. and three NY premieres), five short film programs with over 65 new shorts (including eight U.S. and 12 NY premieres), a multi-disciplinary celebration of artist Jean-Jacques Sempé including an exhibition and a panel discussion, “Work in Progress” presentations by filmmakers, video games, and AR-VR experiences. Three programs highlighted films by students from top animation schools in the U.S. and France: the third annual Student Short Film Competition, the RECA Short Film Program, and the first ever Animation Jam. View complete festival program below.

In April 2023, FIAF launched the Animation First On Tour program to offer cinemas, universities, and organizations across the US the opportunity to screen a selection of the films from the festival at their venues. View details here.

Films in French with English subtitles unless otherwise noted. Talks in English.

FESTIVAL WEEKEND: JAN 27–JAN 29


Opening Night


Opening Night Feature Film

Little Nicholas – Happy as can be

Le Petit Nicolas - Qu'est-ce qu'on attend pour être heureux ?

NY Premiere
Friday, January 27, 2023
7pm

Festival Opening Night Party from 8:30–9:30pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
All Ages

Dir. Amandine Fredon, Benjamin Massoubre, 2022
In French with English subtitles

Little Nicholas – Happy as can be is a beautiful and delicate retelling of artist Jean-Jacques Sempé’s and René Goscinny’s lives which co-exist within the fictitious adventures of Le Petit Nicolas, the beloved character they created.

Exhibition

Jean-Jacques Sempé
Signature Sempé


US Premiere
On view January 27–March 27, 2023
FIAF Gallery

Signature Sempé brings to New York and the FIAF Gallery a selection of Jean-Jacques Sempé’s most iconic works including rare drawings from his inaugural trip to New York, a collection of his New Yorker covers, and his illustrations of France’s beloved character, Le Petit Nicolas.


Spotlight on Anca Damian, Festival Guest of Honor


Feature Film

The Island

L'Île

NY Premiere
Sunday, January 29, 2023
1:45pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 10 & up

Dir. Anca Damian, 2021
In English

Discover a musical fable based on Robinson Crusoe, mixed with the magic of The Little Prince, and the humor of Monty Python! Follow Robinson and Friday in their quest to find freedom in a surreal world populated by outcasts and mermaids.

Talk

A Conversation with Anca Damian


Sunday, January 29, 2023
3:45pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 60 min
Free!

Moderated by Richard Pena

Award-winning screenwriter, filmmaker, and Animation First 2023 Guest of Honor Anca Damian will discuss her new film, The Island, its AR companion piece, In Search of Paradise, as well as current projects and career highlights. The conversation and Q&A will be moderated by Richard Pena, former Director of Programming at New York Film Festival.

Exhibition

Augmented Reality
In Search of Paradise


Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29, 2023
11am–6pm
FIAF Tinker Auditorium
Free!

Experience some of the major themes of Anca Damian’s film The Island, such as migration, ecology, alienation, and tech addiction, in its augmented reality companion, In Search of Paradise.


Feature Films & Shorts


Shorts

Best of Annecy Kids 2022


Saturday, January 28, 2023
11:45am
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 5 & up

Straight from the 2022 edition of the world famous Annency International Animation Film Festival, this seven-film program includes some of the best animated shorts for children.

Feature Film

The Black Pharaoh, the Savage and the Princess

Le Pharaon, le Sauvage et la Princesse

US Premiere
Saturday, January 28, 2023
1:30pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 6 & up

Dir. Michel Ocelot, 2022
In French with English subtitles

With trademark animation and ingenious use of color and technique, director and illustrator Michel Ocelot transports audiences to three very different worlds, during three different periods in history. Discover the remarkable tales highlighting courage and the will to fight injustice that span Ancient Egypt, the French Middle Ages, and 18th century Turkey.

Shorts

New Francophone Shorts: Program 1


Saturday, January 28, 2023
3:45pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 15 & up

This eclectic program of short films from new and established talent provide a unique perspective on the richness and diversity of animation coming out of both France and Canada today.

Feature Film

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman

Saules aveugles, femme endormie

US Premiere
Saturday, January 28, 2023
6pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 15 & up

Followed by a Q&A and reception with filmmaker Pierre Földes

Dir. Pierre Földes, 2022
In English

Internationally best-selling Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s short stories are transformed into a fantastical story about a group of people on a journey that helps them find deeper meaning in their lives.

Feature Film

Unicorn Wars


NY Premiere
Saturday, January 28, 2023
8:45pm

Reception: 7:45pm-8:45pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Mature Audiences

Dir. Alberto Vázquez, 2021
In Spanish with English subtitles

Vázquez’ gruesome and damning portrait of war and religion is set in gorgeous forest landscapes where flora and fauna thrive while bears and unicorns fight in bloody battles. After the struggle, what will be left of their beloved home?

Shorts

Shooom’s Odyssey
and Funny Birds

L'Odyssée de Choum and Drôles d'oiseaux

Sunday, January 29, 2023
12pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 6 & up

Shooom’s Odyssey: Born in the bayou in the midst of a storm, baby owl Shooom must fend for herself and her unhatched sibling while searching for her mother.

Funny Birds: When shy Ellie attempts to return a rare ornithology book to the school library, a life-changing adventure begins.

Shorts

New Francophone Shorts: Program 2


Sunday, January 29, 2023
4:30pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Mature Audiences

This eclectic program of short films from new and established talent provide a unique perspective on the richness and diversity of animation coming out of both France and Canada today.

Closing Night Feature Film

Gandahar


US Premiere
Sunday, January 29, 2023
6:15pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
Ages 15 & up

Dir. René Laloux, 1986
In French with English subtitles

Originally released in 1987, the sci-fi film was edited of its sexual elements and original score, stateside. This newly restored version is how the director intended the film to be seen by U.S. audiences.

Closing Night Feature Film

No Dogs or Italians Allowed

Interdit aux chiens et aux italiens

US Premiere
Sunday, January 29, 2023
8:30pm

Festival Closing Night Party from 7:30–8:30pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
All Ages

Dir. Alain Ughetto, 2021
In Italian and French with English subtitles

Told as a fictional dialog between Alain Ughetto, the filmmaker, and Cesira, his grandmother, this charming stop-motion film is a deeply personal, yet universal account of the hard-working Italian immigrants who fled poverty and fascism at the turn of the 20th Century.


Works in Progress


Work in Progress

The Siren

La Sirène
A Conversation with Sepideh Farsi

Saturday, January 28, 2023
12:30pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 60 min
Free!

In this Work in Progress, award-winning Iranian filmmmaker Sepideh Farsi will detail the artistic choices she made for her upcoming film, The Siren. The film tells the story of Omid, a young boy living in Abadan during the 1980 Iraqi siege of the Iranian petrol city.

Work In Progress

Chicken for Linda!

A Conversation with Chiara Malta & Sébastien Laudenbach

Saturday, January 28, 2023
4:15pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 60 min
Free!

In this Work in Progress, co-directors and co-writers Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laundenbach will discuss the creative process behind Chicken for Linda!, their new feature. The animated adventure features a mother on the frantic run to cook her daughter’s favorite dish, chicken with peppers.

Work In Progress

Dordogne

A Conversation with Cédric Babouche and Aymeric Castaing
Moderated by Francesco Antolini

Sunday, January 29, 2023
1:30pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 60 min
Free!

Artist Cédric Babouche and producer Aymeric Castaing present a closer look at the making of the video game, Dordogne. The stunningly beautiful video game prototype allows players to delve into the Dordogne region of France, experiencing its vibrant landscapes within hand-painted watercolor environments. The conversation will be moderated by Francesco Antolini, Game Designer and Instructor at NYU Game Center.


Panel Discussions


Professional Development Panel

PENCIL ON THE PULSE: Pitching and Producing in Today’s Animation Market


Friday, January 27, 2023
4:30pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 75 min
Free!

The entertainment industry is constantly evolving. While audiences and distributors are ravenous for content, it’s a difficult terrain for creators to navigate. This panel, co-hosted by non-profits FIAF and French in Motion, will discuss the current landscape of the animation industry, the genres, formats and pitches distributors are currently looking for, and the strategies for getting your idea in front of the right people.

Panel Discussion

Sempé and Le Petit Nicolas

With Amandine Fredon, Martine Gossieaux, Benjamin Massoubre, and Françoise Mouly

Saturday, January 28, 2023
2:30pm
FIAF Skyroom
In English • 60 min
Free!

Moderated by Philippe Labaune

Join Little Nicholas – Happy as can be co-directors Amandine Fredon and Benjamin Massoubre, Françoise Mouly, the artistic director of the New Yorker, and gallerist Martine Gossieaux for an illuminating conversation surrounding the making of the film, and the continued appeal and appreciation of both Sempé and Le Petit Nicolas.


VR and Video Games


Exhibition

Virtual Reality


Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29, 2023
11am–6pm
FIAF Haskell Library
Free!

Throughout the festival, the FIAF Library will be free and open to the public to experience video games and virtual reality films from French studios and distributors.

Exhibition

Video Games


Saturday & Sunday, January 28 & 29, 2023
11am–6pm
FIAF Haskell Library
Free!

Throughout the festival, the FIAF Library will be free and open to the public to experience video games and virtual reality films from French studios and distributors.

STUDENT SHORTS: JAN 30–FEB 12

Shorts

US & French Student Short Film Competition


Award Ceremony
Sunday, January 29 at 8:30pm
FIAF Florence Gould Hall
On Demand
Monday, January 30–Sunday, February 12, 2023
Online on Eventive
Mature Audiences

The Animation First Student Short Film Competition, back for a third year, highlights the work of emerging talent from some of the most renowned animation schools in France and the United States. Prizes are awarded for Best French Student Shorts and Best American Student Shorts.

Shorts

RECA Short Film Program


On Demand
January 30–February 12, 2023
Online on Eventive

This program comprises some of the best and most recent short films made by French students, and highlights the talent and passion of the young adults currently studying animation. The program is curated by Christine Mazereau, the head of RECA, the French Animation School Network based in Paris.

Shorts

Animation Jam


Friday, January 27–Sunday, February 12
In Person / Online

This year, Animation First will launch its first Animation Jam, where students from two animation schools will be given 48 hours to complete a short, animated film. The short will be screened before the closing night feature film, No Dogs or Italians Allowed.

TOURING PROGRAM: APR–DEC

Animation First On Tour 2023


Available through December 2023
Across the US

Animation First, presented by FIAF, is the only US festival dedicated to French-speaking animation. FIAF is thrilled to launch Animation First On Tour to offer cinemas, universities, and organizations across the US the opportunity to screen a selection of feature and short films from the festival at their venues.

Animation First 2023 is curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF Film Curator, and Chloé Dheu, FIAF Film Coordinator. Catherine Lamairesse served as Festival Consultant.

Festival Leadership Support
Florence Gould Foundation, and Public Funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council

Festival Supporting Sponsors
Focus Entertainment, Pôle Image Magelis (Angoulême), Romanian Cultural Institute, School of Visual Arts (SVA), Sofitel New York, UniFrance, and Villa Albertine

 

FIAF’s programs are made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

Production at FIAF
Programming Manager: Clementine Guinchat