New York Int’l Children’s Film Festival Award Ceremony-Films Review

March 18, 2013- Anita C Wang

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

Samurai Beat Radio Presents: Sara Barton’s Exclusive with Chen Deming


      The Dreams of Jinsha, made its East Coast Premiere at The New York International Film Festival (NYICFF). Five years in the making, it’s mainland China’s first hand-drawn animated film. It was one of the 15 films to qualify for the Best Animated Feature at this years Oscar’s. The film is a blend of Chinese history/mythology in a time travel fantasy adventure- as Xiao Long, a young boy from Bejing, is hurled back in time to 3,000 year’s to the Jinsha Kingdom and finds himself at the center of an ancient prophecy.  Xiao must make the difficult choice of risking his life to save the Kingdom of Jinsha.  It’s an epic masterpiece; a visually breath-taking film inspired by the works of the legendary Hayao Miyazaki. Thanks to the wonderful people at NYICFF, Samurai Beat Radio was given the opportunity to an exclusive with the director Chem Deming.

SB: How does it feel to have
your film premiere at the (New York International Children’s Film Festival)

Chem Deming:


gave us a lot of encouragement that American children who watched The Dreams of Jinsha at the NYICFF
enjoyed the film. They liked Xingxing,
the dog in the story, very much, and asked several questions about him, such as
what breed he was, and if they looked after a dog would they then be able to go
back in time to ancient civilization. And this also gave us a lot of new
creative inspiration. So in our future works, we hope to make use of childhood’s
innocent thoughts, and hope that our works will continue to be enjoyed by


SB: What was your inspiration for this

Chem Deming:


The inspiration
for The Dreams of Jinsha came during
a visit to the Jinsha Museum. Viewing cultural relics dating back 3,500 years
ago, exquisite beyong comparison, I could sense the high-level civilization of
that age. Humans, animals and nature growing together, gradually becoming
glorious through a beautiful process. I felt struck by lightening with this
feeling, which moved me immensely,  and
in that instant, I “passed through time”, like Xiao Long in the film.


SB: What drove you to become an animator?

Chem Deming:


I’ve liked
drawing ever since I was young, and after many years, I finally had the
opportunity to use the art of animation to realize the dream within me. The Dreams of Jinsha was my first film,
so it was this film that turned me into an animator.


SB: Over the years studios have preferred
to create 3D animated films; recently 2D animated films are making a comeback.
What are your thoughts on this? Which method do you prefer? & Why?

Chem Deming:


2D and 3D are
just different forms of showing film images, and as different artistic
techniques, they can exist together, and both have their advantages. Just like
photography and paintings, during the early stages of photography, there were
people who predicted that paintings would be replaced. However, it remains that
paintings still have their own space to exist. I have always believed that,
whatever display style one chooses, the key is to see what style most suitably
fits the film’s content. Personally, I prefer 2D, because of its brushwork and


SB: In one of the scenes Xiao Long notices
a piece of paper on his desk is floating in the air. 3D animation is usually
used for this type of effect.How were you able to do it in 2D animation? What
was the process?

Chem Deming:


This scene
depicts Xiao Long’s fond memories of
Jinsha City. First of all, we observed the motions of a piece of paper floating
through the air to figure out the movements and directions. Only through
deciphering the directions of the changes of perspectives, could we create a
realistic image.


SB: Several critics have noticed that your
film has many similarities to Miyazaki’s work; would you say he’s been an
artistic influence? Also are there any other artists who’ve influence your

Chem Deming:


I think that
the standard of “beauty” is the same around the world. I like Miyazaki’s works,
they’re very beautiful. Spielberg’s films I like even more – he puts more
thinking into the dimensions of human nature.


SB: What’s next for the future?

Chem Deming:


We are
already working on a series of follow-ups to The Dreams of Jinsha – a second
film entitled
(English title
yet to be decided), and a television series version of The Dreams of Jinsha. In the meantime, we also have a plan to bring
out film-related memorabilia and books bearing the film’s name. For example,
the first book of the film’s book series is already out.


SB: Will the film be released in the

Chem Deming:


Regarding the
screening of The Dreams of Jinsha in
the US, we are currently in talks with a US distribution company, so watch this

Thank you Mr. Deming, it has been a pleasure. We look forward to seeing The Dreams of Jinsha released in the US.

Translated by: John Burton