INTERVIEWS: Animation Is Film Festival 2021 Recap & Interviews

It has been very exciting having film festivals in person again! One such festival was the Animation is Film Festival which recently took place October 22-24 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. Many of the screenings were sold out and you could feel the enthusiastic energy of the attendees. In addition to the screenings, there was a LAIKA exhibition in the lobby, which showcased all five of the award-winning animation studio feature films with characters from Coraline, ParaNorman, The Boxtrolls, Kubo and the Two Strings and Missing Link

“The festival presented a program of twelve animated feature films in competition, with selections from Asia, Europe and Latin America, and filmmakers attending the screenings and hosting Q & As. The festival was produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Variety.”

You can watch our interview with AIF director, Matt Kaszanek, here.

The festival also offered the opportunity for some studio films to have a theatrical release for the first time as they had gone straight to streaming services. We spoke with Jeff Rowe (Co-Director/Writer) and Phil Lord (Producer) after their screening of Sony Pictures and Netflix’s The Mitchells vs. the Machines. We also caught up with Brandon Jeffords (Assistant Director) and Kirk DeMicco (Writer/Director) of Vivo after their screening.

BELLE took home The Special Jury Prize.  This film, written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, is the story of Suzu, a 17-year-old high school student who embarks on a journey of adventures, challenges and love in her quest to become who she truly is. GKIDS will release the film theatrically in the US in January 2022. We spoke with Hosoda before his film’s screening about his festival experience and what he hopes people take away from his film. BELLE is absolutely stunning and I highly recommend seeing it in theaters! 

“With extraordinary visual imagination and technical skill, Mamoru Hosoda reinvents the classic Beauty and the Beast story for this century. In his telling, a teenage Belle finds her voice and takes a stand on an important social issue,” commented Jury chair Peter Debruge.

You can watch our additional interviews with some of the lead English voice cast of Poupelle of Chimney Town, as well as the English director, and producer. The film is an inspirational tale  about never giving up and remembering to look up! It is a sweet tale about a young boy, Lubicchi, living among the thick smoke from the chimneys of his isolated town, yearning to see the “stars” — to know the truth — his father always told him about. One Halloween night he meets Poupelle, a man made of garbage, and together they look to the sky as their adventure begins.

We had a fantastic time watching such beautiful films and meeting the wonderful filmmakers – definitely looking forward to what Animation is Film has in store for next year!

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