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Founded by Eric Beckman and Emily Shapiro in 1997, the festival was originally a fundraiser for the Children’s Aid Society and had a program of 12 shorts that were borrowed from the larger Chicago International Children’s Film Festival, which had been running for several years.
This was the height of the animation boom, and Beckman and Shapiro thought that kids should have a diet of more than MTV, Disney and Hanna-Barbera. So over the following years, the thing grew exponentially, then had a near-death experience where it became merely the “presenter” of a film series at the IFC Theater on West 3rd Street and Sixth Avenue, to a revival as a three-weekend compendium of the best films the rest of the world has to offer children.
Five years ago, for example, the festival had over 1800 submissions, and featured Danny Boyle’s Millions and Katsuhiro Otomo’s Steamboy, neither of which received major theatrical release. It was said that for the genre, this had become as important as Cannes, not bad for something that started in a glorified garage.
NYICFF is North America’s largest festival of film for kids and has had an audience of 25,000 children, teens, parents, filmmakers and industry professionals. The festival presents 100 new films of all lengths from around the world; there are gala opening and closing events, major feature film premieres, director Q&As, NYICFF’s award-winning short films programs, children’s film production workshops, a celebrity benefit event, a 50-year French animation retrospective, audience voting, and the NYICFF Awards Ceremony.
The NYICFF 2010 Jury includes Frances McDormand, Uma Thurman, John Turturro, Susan Sarandon, Matthew Modine, Gus Van Sant, Michel Ocelot, and James Schamus.
The festival is pretty much the only place to see some of the hit cartoon features that have been made outside the United States, and this year is no different.
GKids, the people running the thing have almost single-handedly managed to wangle this year’s centerpiece, Tomm Moore's The Secret of Kells an Oscar® nomination; the other features such as Dominique Monfery’s Eleanor’s Secret, Jiri Barta’s In The Attic, and Sunao Katabuchi's Mai Mai Miracle, have all received kudos back in their countries of origin but aren’t going to get much distribution here in the States.
Besides the 15 features being shown, there are also seven shorts programs, the two galas and two workshops where kids get to find out how films are made.
The venues are:
Cantor Film Ctr 36 E 8th St.west of Broadway DGA Theater 110 W 57th Stbetween 5th and 6th Avenues IFC Center 323 6th Ave.off West 3rd Street Scholastic557 Broadwayjust south of Prince Symphony Space2537 Broadwayat 95th Street
A full schedule and tickets to all events can be found at: gkids.tv/intheaters
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