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Animation First Festival Returns This January

The best place to see the best in French animation is France. The second best is probably Animation First, the U.S.'s first festival dedicated to French animation. Held by The French Institute Alliance Française in New York the event showcases the legacy and innovation of Francophone animation. The festival returns in 2024 for a seventh edition, and due to increased popularity expands from three days to six.

The festival includes seven animated feature films, including three New York and three U.S. premieres, six programs of short films, a 'first look' presentation, filmmaker talks, the annual Student Short Film competition and more. New for 2024 is the premiere of an inaugural limited-edition Animation First series poster, a Juried award for the Francophone shorts and a spotlight on animation from Quebec. 

The festival opens with Jérémie Périn’s sci-fi opus Mars Express. The centrepiece film is Benoît Chieux’s Sirocco and the Kingdom of Air Streams, a surreal story of two sisters trapped in the world of their storybook. The closing night film is the US Premiere Sepideh Farsi and Zaven Najjar's The Siren, the story of the aftermath of an Iraqi missile strike in 1980's Abadan. Other films screening include French/Spanish co-production Robot Dreams, the New York Premiere of Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli’s Nina and the Hedgehog's Secret; Cameroon's The Sacred Cave, and the US Premiere of Joël Vaudreuil’s When Adam Changes. The six shorts programs include The Best Of Annecy, , New Francophone Shorts 1 and 2, National Film Board of Canada Shorts, and Cinémathèque Québécoise.

Animation First is curated by Delphine Selles-Alvarez, FIAF Film Curator, and Chloé Dheu, FIAF Film Coordinator. "This year’s festival celebrates the power of animation to explore thought-provoking subjects —as with the films, When Adam Changes, The Siren, and Mars Express—and magnificent worlds such as those showcased in Sirocco and the Kingdom of Air Streams, and the new VR experience, Gaudi, the Atelier of the Divine, amongst others," explains Selles-Alvarez. "With the inclusion of the inaugural limited-edition poster by illustrator Peter de Sève, FIAF is highlighting its mission to celebrate animation as a cinematic art that’s not just a genre for young audiences."

For the first time this year, the festival will have a Juried Prize for its New Francophone Shorts program. The jury will include including film curator Marco de Blois, director and animator Candy Kugel, and illustrator Marcos Chin.  Also new for 2024 is Animation Speak/Easy, where three guests are invited to choose an animated short that means a lot to them followed by an audience discussion.

For the focus on Québécois animation, programs include Montreal- based filmmaker Joël Vaudreuil's U.S. premiere of When Adam Changes, a talk with Montreal's Janet Perlman and two programs of shorts:  National Film Board of Canada Shorts and Cinémathèque Québécoise.

Returning for this year is Animation Jam, the student competition where entrants are given 48 hours to complete an animation sequence. Free AR/VR experiences in the FIAF Library will include Gaudi, the Atelier of the Divine and Plastisapiens.

Animation First will run from Tuesday, January 23 until Sunday, January 28, 2024. For more information and to buy tickets for individual events or festival passes visit the website. Save 10% on all Festival Passes Until December 22.