My Life as a Zucchini
My Life as a Zucchini

The opening weekend of the Oscar qualifying 2017 New York International Children’s Film Festival will feature three highly-acclaimed debuts.  The 20th anniversary of the Festival will run from February 24th to March 19th, 2017.

Friday, February 24th will showcase the East Coast, English-language premiere of My Life as a Zucchini. The visually and narratively distinctive stop-motion film received accolades at Cannes, a Golden Globe nomination, and the Cristal and Audience Awards for feature film at Annecy. It is Switzerland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards and is also in contention for the Best Animated Feature nomination. Produced by GKIDS, the English language version includes the voice talents of Nick Offerman, Ellen Page, Will Forte, and Amy Sedaris.

Preceding My Life as a Zucchini is an Opening Night screening for younger audiences, the North American premiere of Revolting Rhymes, a wickedly delightful adaptation of Roald Dahl’s satirical reimagining of classic fairy tales. Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and more are given the sardonic Dahl treatment in richly rendered CGI by Magic Light Pictures and Triggerfish Animation Studios.

Rounding up Opening Weekend is the February 25th Opening Spotlight film, the East Coast premiere of Funimation Film’s Your Name, a visually dazzling, genre-bending film by acclaimed Japanese director Makoto Shinkai, whose talent was recognized by the Festival in 2008 with the film 5 Centimeters Per Second. The film has quickly gained global success as one of the most popular and highest internationally grossing anime films, and is in consideration for the Best Animated Feature Academy Award.

For the first time the Festival is partnering with Pepperidge Farms, bringing on Goldfish Colors as a lead sponsor of the Festival. Goldfish will provide on-site activities and free samples during the March Festival. Goldfish Colors and the Festival just launched the Goldfish Tales Animation Xperience Contest, where families can come together in the spirit of creativity to shoot their own stop motion videos; parents can enter their families’ short films for a chance to be recognized nationally and receive prizes.

To enter the contest, participants create a 60-second animated video starring Goldfish crackers and upload it to YouTube. To complete the submission, participants must then visit www.goldfishsmiles.com. During the month of March, all submissions will be reviewed by an independent judging committee including a member of the New York International Children’s Film Festival and a Goldfish brand representative.

OPENING NIGHT FILMS:

My Life as a Zucchini – dir. Claude Barras (Switzerland/France) – East Coast premiere, Animation, 66 minutes, in English

“Zucchini” may sound like a weird name, but after the accidental death of his mother, the nickname is all the nine-year-old has left of her. The kids at his new group home seem to understand and, though hesitant at first, Zucchini soon finds himself part of their close-knit, makeshift family. So upon the arrival of latest newcomer Camille, he is quick to offer his own warm welcome. But when Camille’s greedy aunt tries to take her away, Zucchini and his newfound friends must find a way to stay together. With its beautifully expressive stop-motion style, My Life as a Zucchini tackles sometimes heavy subject matter with a light touch, conveying the children’s perseverance through precarious circumstances through the matter-of-fact lens of childhood. Recommended ages 11+

Revolting Rhymes – dir. Jakob Schuh & Jan Lachauer (UK) – North American premiere, Animation, 58 minutes, in English

Forget everything you thought you knew about Little Red Riding Hood. And Cinderella. And the Three Little Pigs… In “Revolting Rhymes,” Roald Dahl reimagined six classic fairy tales with his characteristically sardonic wit. Now his twisted tales come to life in two wondrously animated featurettes. These new stories have slightly rougher edges: a greedy pig banker pilfering Red Riding Hood’s hard-earned savings, a Cinderella less than thrilled with her post-ball prospects, and a Snow White who hightails it into the big city. And yet, compassion somehow miraculously holds on. Gallows humor, guffaws, knowing laughs, and sighs of relief all have their turn in this wicked and visually sumptuous tale, delicious enough to become a classic in its own right. Recommended ages 6+

OPENING SPOTLIGHT:

Your Name – dir. Makoto Shinkai (Japan) – New York premiere, Animation, 106 minutes, in Japanese with English subtitles

The day the stars fell, two lives changed forever. Total strangers Mitsuha and Taki live their teenage lives in separate cities until suddenly, for reasons unknown, they switch bodies. Beyond all of the physical awkwardness of their strange new bodies, they must learn to navigate each other’s social realms and habits as they continue to swap back and forth unexpectedly. Incredibly, they adapt and form an intense bond by leaving each other messages. But can they manipulate fate and the destructive forces of the heavens to meet in person? Written, directed, and animated by anime master Makoto Shinkai (NYICFF 2008’s 5 Centimeters Per Second) in his stunningly detailed signature style and a box office record-breaker in Japan, the film’s world is one where teenagers are full of sensitivity in the best sense: open to every experience and exchange, and eager to truly know one another. Recommended ages 10+

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