Now in its 17th year, the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF for, well, short-er) has announced its lineup for this year’s festival, which runs from March 7th to the 30th in Manhattan. Oscar Nominee Ernest & Celestine returns to the festival where it won the Grand Prize last year, although it’s the English language version that will be showing this year rather than the original French. As is a common habit with Disney’s Studio Ghibli imports, U.S. distributor and NYICFF host GKids has given Ernest & Celestine the start treatment for its English dub, featuring the voices of Forest Whitaker and Mackenzie Foy (Renesmee from Twilight: Breaking Dawn) as its title characters, plus work from Paul Giamatti (Saving Mr. Banks), Nick Offerman (Parks & Recreation), Megan Mullaly (The Kings of Summer), and Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royal). Ernest & Celestine will see a theatrical release in the U.S. February 28, just ahead of the Oscars.
Also on the docket for NYICFF are screenings of both Muppets Most Wanted and Rio 2, which figure to be major draws ahead of their respective March 21 and April 11 releases, but perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the festival isn’t so much about a single movie as an entire studio. Coupled with a screening of Coraline, which was an Academy Award Nominee in 2010 (they were also nominated last year for ParaNorman), stop motion masters LAIKA are hosting a workshop that promises “insights into the intricate stop-motion animation process, using footage of time-lapse production, exclusive clips of LAIKA animators at work, and a demonstration using the actual character models from of the movies.” LAIKA will also be showing off exclusive footage of their 2014 release The Boxtrolls, which we named our most anticipated movie of September 2014.
Other festival attractions include TIFF standout We Are the Best, documentary Annie: It’s A Hard Knock Life which chronicles the 2012 search for Broadway’s new Annie, and a collection of short film programs targeted at a variety of age ranges three years through early teens. Films from all six populated continents will appear over the course of the festival. This year’s festival will be judged by a jury featuring an assortment of actors, directors, and critics including Geena Davis (Thema & Louise), Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction), Gus Van Sant (Good Will Hunting), and the aforementioned Jeffrey Wright.
For those in New York, festival passes and screening tickets can be found at www.gkids.tv/intheaters.cfm