‘From Up On Poppy Hill,’ ‘Wolf Children’ Will Headline This Year’s New York International Children’s Film Festival

You lucky New Yorkers will get to see the U.S. premieres of the latest animated and live-action features from Studio Ghibli, Michel Ocelot, and Mamoru Hosoda from March 1-24.

After the jump, we’ve got the full lineup from the upcoming festival.

“From Up On Poppy Hill,” the Olympic drama from Studio Ghibli will be making its North American premiere alongside “Wolf Children: Ame and Yuki,” from “The Girl Who Leaped Through Time and Summer Wars” director Mamoru Hosoda. Some interesting live-action fare is on offer, with the Taiwanese entry “Starry Night” and the weightlifting doc “Strong!” joining this year’s live-action features.

The list of films and their synopses are below. For ticketing and dates, head over to http://www.gkids.tv/intheaters.cfm.

Approved for Adoption – North American Premiere, Belgium/France/Switzerland, Laurent Boileau/Jung Henin. In this fascinating animated autobiography a series of gorgeously animated, sepia-toned vignettes – some humorous and some poetic – trace filmmaker Jung Henin from the day he is adopted from Korea by a Belgian family, through elementary school, and into his teenage years, when his emerging sense of identity begins to create fissures at home and to inflame the latent biases of his adoptive parents. The filmmaker tells his story using his own animation intercut with snippets of super-8 family footage, archival film, and new footage. The result is an animated memoir like no other: clear-eyed and unflinching, humorous and wry, and above all, inspiring in the capacity of the human heart.

In French with English subtitles – Recommended ages 11 to adult.

The Day of the Crows – East Coast Premiere, Canada/France, Jean-Christophe Dessaint. Raised like an animal since birth and knowing only the ways of the wild, a nameless boy has been forbidden by his father to venture beyond the edge of the forest that is their home. But when his father is injured, the boy goes to a nearby town for help – where he experiences the wonders of human contact and civilized living for the first time. With tips of the hat to the enchanted forest worlds of Hayao Miyazaki and François Truffaut’s The Wild Child, this lushly animated film travels the blurred lines between animal and human, nature and civilization, and the realms of the living and of spirits.

In French with English subtitles – Recommended ages 7 to adult.

Ernest & Celestine, Opening Night Film – US Premiere, Belgium/France, Renner/Patar/Aubier. NYICFF kicks off the 2013 festival with the extraordinary new film from the producers of Kirikou and the Sorceress, Triplets of Belleville and The Secret of Kells. Fresh from standing ovations at Toronto and Cannes, Ernest & Celestine joyfully leaps across genres and influences to capture the kinetic, limitless possibilities of animation. Deep below snowy, cobblestone streets and tucked away amongst winding tunnels, lives a civilization of hardworking mice, terrified of the bears who live above ground. Unlike her fellow mice, Celestine is an artist and a dreamer – and when she nearly ends up as breakfast for grumpy troubadour Ernest, the two form an unlikely bond and are soon living together as outcasts in a winter cottage. Like a gorgeous watercolor painting brought to life, a constantly shifting pastel color palette bursts and drips across the screen, while wonderful storytelling and brilliant comic timing draw up influences as varied as Buster Keaton, Bugs Bunny and the outlaw romanticism of Bonnie and Clyde.

In French with English subtitles – Recommended ages 7 to adult – or all ages for French speaking audiences.

From Up on Poppy Hill – US Premiere, Japan, Goro Miyazaki. The newest feature from the legendary Studio Ghibli has written by studio founder Hayao Miyazaki and directed by Goro Miyazaki, marking the first feature film collaboration between father and son. The results are stunning – a pure, sincere, nuanced and heartfelt film that signals yet another triumph for the esteemed studio. Set in Yokohama in 1964, the film centers on an innocent romance developing between two high-school kids caught up in the changing times, as the country picks itself up from the devastation of World War 2 and prepares to host the 1964 Olympics. Star-filled voice cast includes Jamie Lee Curtis, Christina Hendricks, Ron Howard and Anton Yelchin.

In English – Recommended ages 9 to adult

Hey Krishna – North American Premiere, India, Vikram Veturi. Packed with iridescent hues, outrageous characters, epic battles and endearingly loopy Bollywood-style musical interludes, Hey Krishna is a vibrantly colorful cartoon retelling of the life of the child Krishna – the naughty prankster with the beautiful blue hue and long eyelashes. A prophesy foretells that the tyrant Kans will be killed by Krishna, the eighth child of his sister Devaki, and so Kans has Devaki imprisoned. But the infant Krishna is spirited away to a nearby village and raised by peasants – and when Kans hears that Krishna has escaped his fate, he sends out demons and monsters to finish the job.

In English – Recommended ages 8 to adult

Kauwboy – East Coast Premiere, Netherlands, Boudewijn Koole. The Netherlands’ official entry for this year’s Oscars® and winner of the Best First Feature award at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, Kauwboy is a tender portrait of a boy struggling to come to terms with a family that’s not what it once was. With his country-singer mother absent, Jojo lives alone with his security guard father, a man of few words, who is quick to anger and has seemingly no affection for his 10-year-old son. Left to his own devices, Jojo finds an abandoned baby crow in the woods near their house – and finds solace in caring for this small creature, who is even more alone and vulnerable than he is.

In Dutch with English subtitles – Recommended ages 10 to adult

Kirikou and the Men and the Women – North American Premiere, France, Michel Ocelot. The pint-sized, quick-footed child hero Kirikou returns in the new feature from world-renowned animator/director/storyteller Michel Ocelot, who NYICFF audiences should be well familiar with from Kirikou and the Sorceress, Azur & Asmar, and Tales of the Night. In this third film in the Kirikou trilogy, Ocelot’s almost impossibly vibrant use of color is everywhere on display – as a collection of short form fables are woven together, mixing traditional storytelling and mythology with bits of humor and wit, and backed by an upbeat musical score from Malian, Togolese and French artists.

In French with English subtitles – Recommended ages 7 to adult – or all ages for French speaking audiences.

Meet the Small Potatoes –
World Premiere, USA, Josh Selig. Like This is Spinal Tap for the pre-school set, this musical mockumentary follows a group of singing spuds from humble beginnings on an Idaho potato farm to their meteoric rise to international pop stardom. Animation features the adorably animated characters placed in live action archival settings (1960’s era Coney Island in particular is a real treat), and true to the rock-doc form, musical numbers are punctuated with interviews with fans, a former manager, and the southern DJ who helped them to early success.

In English – Recommended all ages

The Painting – World Premiere English-Language Version, France, Jean-François Languionie. This breathlessly beautiful tale has received unanimous critical praise since it made its US premiere at NYICFF 2012 (as French title Le Tableau) and NYICFF is thrilled to present the first screening of the new English-language version. In this wryly-inventive parable, the characters from a painting burst through the canvas and find themselves in the Painter’s studio. The abandoned workspace is strewn with paintings, each containing its own animated world – and in a feast for both the eyes and imagination, they explore first one picture and then another, attempting to discover just what the Painter has in mind for his creations.

In English – Recommended ages 7 to adult

Pinocchio – North American Premiere, Italy, Enzo D’Alò. Enzo D’Alò’s colorful and musical re-telling of this classic tale hews much closer to both the spirit and plot of Carlo Collodi’s original story than the Disney version, with Pinocchio remaining for most of the picture a rambunctious and easily-distracted little scamp who dances and trips from one strange adventure to the next in a surreal, Alice in Wonderland-like ride.

In English – Recommended ages 5 to 10

NYICFF EN ESPANOL –¡Rompe Ralph! (Wreck-It Ralph)–
Special Event, USA, Rich Moore. Whether Spanish is your native tongue or you just want to experience a great film a new way, NYICFF is pleased to kick off a new festival section for our Hispanic audience members, with the special Spanish language screening of the multi-award winning, Oscar nominated Wreck-It Ralph. The film will be shown in Spanish, with English subtitles, so all can enjoy!

In Spanish with English subtitles – Recommended ages 6 to adult

GIRLS’ POV – Starry Starry Night – Taiwan, Tom Shu-yu Lin. A day-dreamy seventh-grader whose life seems to be falling apart around her, Mei immerses herself in a fantasy world of her own creation, populated by oversized origami animals and shadowy beasts that tag along with her on what would otherwise be dreary daily excursions. Meanwhile, shuffled from home to home by his mother, troubled newcomer Jay avoids contact with his new schoolmates and becomes an instant target for their derision and taunting. Brought together by their shared loneliness and love of shoplifting, Mei and Jay sneak away to Mei’s grandfather’s isolated cottage in the countryside in an attempt to escape a reality that nonetheless, comes crashing in on them. Screened as part of NYICFF’s Girls’ POV program, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In Mandarin with English subtitles – Recommended ages 9 to adult

GIRLS’ POV – Strong! – New York Theatrical Premiere, USA, Julie Wyman. “Can you imagine being huge – but graceful and beautiful and just gorgeous?” Tipping the scales at 300 pounds, Olympic weightlifter Cheryl Hawthorn defies conventional notions of female beauty. Yet, whether she is working with her Olympic trainer, cooking at home with her mom in Savannah, or laughing about the difficulty of doing simple things like buying a dress or finding a chair that won’t collapse under her weight – it is precisely her strength and beauty that shine through. In our fitness-obsessed culture, Cheryl’s success makes us rethink how we see the female body and expands our notion of what it means to be powerful, healthy, and beautiful. Screened as part of NYICFF’s Girls’ POV program, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

In English – Recommended ages 9 to adult

Welcome to the Space Show – US Premiere English-Language Version, Japan, Koji Masunari. NYICFF favorite Welcome to the Space Show returns in a brand new English-language version! With an intergalactic cast of thousands, Koji Masunari’s colorfully explosive debut feature sets a new high for visual spectacle and sheer inventiveness of character design – in what has to be one of the most gleefully surreal depictions of alien life forms ever portrayed in cinema.

In English – Recommended ages 7 to adult

Wolf Children – US Continental Premiere, Japan, Mamoru Hosoda. NYICFF is thrilled to present the brilliant third feature from Mamoru Hosoda, whose Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time have established him as one of the world’s top creative forces in animation. When college student Hana discovers her new beau is part wolf, she accepts him for who he is. Before long she gives birth to two children, Ame and Yuki, rambunctious bundles of joy who transform into wolves when excited and whose little ears are as adorable as their fangs are sharp. When the neighbors begin to notice their wolf-like tendencies, Hana moves to the countryside and into a dilapidated farmhouse, where each child is free to pursue its wolfish and human sides. Brimming with Hosoda’s trademark visual splendor, Wolf Children is his most emotionally resonant film to date, a stunningly animated and heart-felt fable about growing up, growing apart, and the choices faced along the way.

In Japanese with English subtitles – Recommended ages 9 to adult

Zarafa – France, Remi Benzançon/Jean-Christophe Lie. Inspired by the true story of the first giraffe to visit France, Zarafa is a sumptuously hand-animated and stirring adventure set among sweeping vistas of parched desert, windswept mountains and open skies. Under the cover of night a small boy, Maki, loosens the shackles that bind him and escapes into the desert night. Pursued by slavers across the moon-lit savannah, Maki meets Zarafa, a baby giraffe – and an orphan, just like him – and he vows to protect the giraffe. Wandering alone in the desert, the two are taken under the protection of the Bedouin prince Hassan. Hassan brings them to Alexandria for an audience with the Pasha of Egypt, who promptly orders them to deliver the exotic animal as a gift to King Charles of France.

In French with English subtitles – Recommended ages 7 to adult

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