If you’ve been following Japanese pop culture as of late, you may have heard of a certain anime/manga series that has generated so much attention all over Japan and the world. A series that details a world where humanity is under the eyes of man-eating giants. Hajime Isayama’s “Attack on Titan” is a series that has captured the imagination of many anime fans around the world with its combination of action and despair. At New York Comic-Con 2013, Titan cosplayers literally flooded the convention center. As the website io9 once said, it’s Japan’s equivalent of “The Walking Dead.”
On St Patrick’s Day, I attended the New York International Children’s Film Festival Award Ceremony. I enjoyed it the instant I sat down in my seat, because what I found waiting for me was a gift bag full of free goodies. There were gift bags on every seat in the auditorium as a way of thanking the audience for coming. Inside: was a DVD (each was different depending on where you were seated, I received the “Cat From Paris”), dinosaur shaped rubber bands, a film camera bookmark magnifier, a New York Times gift card for 4 weeks of free subscription, a Yummy Breakfast keychain (I got the orange), a Eni puzzle keychain, temporary tattoos, connect the dots book, a coupon for 50% off for Brain toys and finally two monkey stickers.
Looking though my gift bag kept everyone in the audience entertained long enough until the award ceremony began. Two little girls in a row in front of me played with the dinosaur rubber bands and a boy behind me gushed over getting a copy of the “Cat from Paris” DVD.
Now for the reviews of the winning films:
The Audience Award Short Films:
Snack Attack- Andrew Cadelago, USA- [Grand Prize Short Film & Ages 5-10]
The Little Bird and the Leaf- Lena von Döhren, Switzerland-[Ages 3-6]
The Vacuum Kid-Katharine Mahalic, USA-[Ages 8-14]
Song of the Spindle- Drew Christie, USA-[Ages 12-18]
Lola- Franck Janin, France-[Parents Award]
“The Little Bird and the Leaf” is an adorable short silent animated film. I loved watching the little bird chased after a leaf, while at the same time outsmarting a fox that was trying to eat him. “Snack Attack” is a computer animated silent short film that won the grand prize short film award by jury. “Snack Attack” is a funny tale of an old woman trying to enjoy her snack but ends up being rudely interrupted by a young man. And before I could write this off as another cute short film the ending twist left me pleasantly surprised.
“The Vacuum Kid”, is a live action short documentary story. What I love about this film is the Vacuum Kid, Kyle Krichbaum’s positive outlook and how he remains true to his love for his vacuum cleaners, despite the ridicules of others.
“Song of the Spindle” is one of the most interesting of the short films that won. The short animated film featured a man having a conversation with a whale. The conversation is both amusing and thought provoking as it points the good and not so good qualities of mankind versus whales.This films message left an impact on me, as well as, the audience.While I liked “Snack Attack”, I felt that “Song of the Spindle” would have been a better choice for the Grand Prize Short Film.
“Lola” is a cute short film about a doll traveling around the world in hopes of finding and reuniting with his girlfriend Lola. A part of me kept wondering how the doll is able to afford to travel everywhere, yet, another part of me just want to relish the sightseeing.
The Special Jury Award winners are:
I am Tom Moody- Ainslie Henderson, UK-[Best Animated Short]
Runaway- Victor Carrey, Spain-[Best Live-Action Short]
“I am Tom Moody” was a thoughtful stop motion clay-mation. A story of letting go of the past and to live in the present is nicely done in this short film. “Runaway” is my favorite among the two. It starts off with a heavy narration with random scenes that has nothing to do with each other. Yet, it cleverly brings them all together without the narration, but just pure action. Its highly brilliant short mystery film.
And now the winner of the Grand Prize Feature Award goes to:
Ernest & Celestine- Stephane Aubier, Vincent Patar, Benjamin Renner, France
“Ernest & Celestine” is a beautiful French animated film about a mouse name Celestine that meets a down on his luck bear Ernest. Based on the best-selling children’s book (by the same name), the animation in the film does well to match the artwork in the book with its watercolors. I love how when they first met face to face.Celestine has this unusual calm about her as she just introduce herself to the large bear Ernest; without missing a beat, she slaps away Ernest when he attempts to eat her.
Audience Award Feature winners are:
Starry Starry Night-Tom Shu-yu Lin, Taiwan
Wolf Children- Mamoru Hosoda, Japan
“Starry Starry Night” a live action Taiwanese movie based on a children’s book (by the same name.) The movie does a brilliant job on bringing to life Mei’s imagination and accompany by the perfect soundtrack by the talented Japanese brand “World End’s Girlfriend”. At times I felt the movie suffered in poor pacing and stiff acting in some scenes. “Starry Starry Night” is still a film worth watching until the very end after the credits. [Hint-you might want a tissue for that extra ending.]
Wolf Children, a Japanese animated film. “Wolf Children” is more of a tear jerker than “Starry Starry Night” as it follows the story of Hana, a bright optimistic young woman trying to raise her family alone though trial and error. Its an emotional roller coaster of tears and laughter watching Hana overcome one problem after another until finally is time to say goodbye to the family as the credits roll. I felt like I was part of the family when watching this film.
The New York International Children’s Film Festival Award Ceremony concluded by letting the audience watch the winners of the short film awards and some of the nominated ones.
Select Nominated Films:
“Animated Amusements”, directed by, Bob Venezia, is a short live action film about crazy carnival rides that makes me want to glue my feet to the ground rather to ride in them.
Nominated for an Oscar, “Fresh Guacamole”, directed by PES, is an innovative, instead of vegetables being cut up and turned into dip, it’s everyday items in this creative clay-mation short film.
The New York International Children’s Film Festival was a prodigious experience.Eric Beckman, co-director of NYICFF, hosted the awards ceremony. He’s is a down to earth, funny guy, as he delighted the audience with his comedy routine. Congratulations to all the award winners. I wish I could have also watched “Ernest & Celestine” However – the after party was a blast!
edited by: S.Barton