This year’s 2018 New York International Children’s Film Festival opens on Friday, February 23rd, with the East Coast premiere of anime auteur Masaaki Yuasa’s Lu Over the Wall. Boasting a distinctive, off-kilter animation style, eye-popping color palette, and outrageous music, Yuasa’s latest gem is, at its core, a captivating coming of age story. The eponymous Lu is a manic mermaid with a show-stopping voice who helps Kai, a gifted teenager unfulfilled by small-town life, discover his own. Winner of the Grand Prize Cristal Award at Annecy 2017, Lu evokes charming hints of Miyazaki, but claims a frenetic energy and surreal, freewheeling structure all its own.
Rounding out Opening Weekend is the Saturday, February 24th, Opening Spotlight screening of Academy Award®-winning director and NYICFF alum Alexandre Espigares’ debut feature, White Fang. An ambitious animated retelling of the classic Jack London novel, White Fang employs the voice work of Rashida Jones, Nick Offerman, Eddie Spears, and Paul Giamatti to tell the epic journey of White Fang’s life from pup to sled-dog to abused prizefighter and beyond, set in the gorgeously rendered landscape of the Pacific Northwest frontier.
On Saturday, March 10, NYICFF presents a special sneak peek Centerpiece screening of The Austere Academy: Parts 1 & 2, the highly-anticipated first episodes of Netflix’s original program A Series of Unfortunate Events: Season 2. Directed by Barry Sonnenfeld and based on the Lemony Snicket series by Daniel Handler, this lauded adaptation is hailed as having “a respect for the ability of young minds to perceive offbeat, incongruous humor, the very quality that made the books so successful in the first place” (The New York Times). The new season returns with an all-star cast, including the brilliant Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, and plenty of nefarious schemes to catch the Baudelaire orphans. Season 2 releases March 30 only on Netflix.
The 2018 Festival will also showcase the inaugural edition of VR JR., a full weekend of Virtual Reality experiences, a special VR creators’ talk, and demos uniquely curated to provide a thoughtful point of entry for children and families to explore this new medium. Taking place Saturday and Sunday, March 3 and 4, the pioneering program showcases the latest VR projects that place kids at the helm of their own immersive story world. Projects include the East Coast premiere of the Neil Gaiman picture book adaptation Wolves in the Walls, directed by Pete Billington, and Golden Globe-nominated director Jorge Gutiérrez’s Son of Jaguar, a new Google Spotlight Story placing viewers into the story of a family of Mexican wrestlers.
The 21st anniversary of the Oscar qualifying Festival will run from February 23rd to March 18th, 2018
LU OVER THE WALL, dir. Masaaki Yuasa (Japan) – 2018, East Coast premiere, Animation, 107 minutes
Though obedient to his family, Kai’s quiet life in a traditional Japanese seaside town starts to rock and roil when he secretly joins a band with his classmates. His true interest is where they practice —on the foreboding Merfolk Island—a place that turns out to be even wilder than the town lore suggests. Enter Lu: a mermaid girl with the soul and voice of a pop star, who steals the show in this shape-shifting, musical/anime hybrid.
WHITE FANG, dir. Alexandre Espigares (France/Luxembourg/USA) – 2018, East Coast premiere, Animation, 85 minutes
NYICFF alum and Oscar®-winning short film director Alexandre Espigares returns with his feature debut, a thrilling and thought-provoking adaptation of Jack London’s classic tale. White Fang and his fellow canines call the rugged beauty of the Yukon territory home, but with the Gold Rush of the 1890s they are thrust against the harsh life of profit-seeking prospectors. Will the tribal leader or a new peacekeeping couple offer White Fang another path?
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS: SEASON 2, THE AUSTERE ACADEMY, dirs. Barry Sonnenfeld and Daniel Handler (USA) – 2018, Special Preview Screening, Live Action, 98 minutes (Parts 1 & 2)
VR JR., Interactive VR Experiences and VR JR. Talk
High-quality, innovative programming into new digital realms, offering the first dedicated Virtual Reality mini-fest for kids and families.