About the Festival

FIAF’s Animation First Festival celebrates France’s rich tradition as a pioneer of animation.

Building on its wildly successful inaugural year, the second edition of Animation First showcases the vast history, enduring ingenuity, and diversity of France’s renowned animation studios and schools. This year’s schedule includes 17 premieres, provoking feature-length films, exciting shorts, immersive exhibits, video game demonstrations, panels with leading animators and film executives, and much more. View complete lineup here.

Animation First 2019 is curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF Film Curator, and Catherine Lamairesse, Founder of Focus on French Cinema.

Animation First 2019 was designed in partnership with the City of Bordeaux. This year’s program spotlights the city’s animation, video game, and virtual reality industries by presenting films, shorts, and video games produced and/or distributed by Bordeaux-based companies. View highlights from Bordeaux here.

Festival highlights include:

  • Michel Ocelot, trailblazing filmmaker, to be Guest of Honor. The festival will open with his groundbreaking feature, Kirikou and the Sorceress, celebrating its 20th anniversary. Ocelot’s work will be surveyed through screenings of two other feature films: Azur & Asmar: The Princes’ Quest (2006) and Ivan Tsarevitch and the Changing Princess (2016). In addition, Ocelot will pay homage to the filmmaker Isao Takahata, a co-founder of Japan’s legendary Studio Ghibli who passed away earlier this year. He will introduce a screening of Takahata’s feature film Only Yesterday (1992). Ocelot will also curate a program of influential shorts and participate in a discussion about his body of work.
  • The festival will feature no fewer than 8 US and 9 NY premieres
  • 16 emerging and established female filmmakers spotlighted
  • Focus on 85 years of Pinscreen Animation through screenings and workshops
  • This year’s César-nominated shorts and the Best of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival anchor shorts programs
  • Extraordinary shorts spanning sci-fi, suspense, documentary, erotic, comedy, and more genres. Selection will include a number of shorts produced in Bordeaux.
  • Special work-in-progress presentation of The Swallows of Kabul, based on Yasmina Khadra’s novel about life under Taliban rule. Co-directors Zabou Breitman and Eléa Gobbé-Mévellec will present an exclusive look and discuss their collaboration on this upcoming feature.
  • Interactive exhibits illuminate worlds of virtual reality, video games from Bordeaux, and  augmented reality
  • Times Square Arts features rising French filmmaker Vergine Keaton’s short film I was crying out at life (2009) as its nightly Midnight Moment throughout January.
  • Panel discussions with leading animators and film executives, workshops on Pinscreen, and much more

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 Renaissance 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 Editions: 2018 | 2019