Japan’s Niigata International Animation Film Festival to Launch in 2023 | News

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A major new international animation festival is set to launch in Japan in 2023, with ghost in the shell director Mamoru Oshii has appointed his first jury president.

The inaugural Niigata International Animation Film Festival (NIAFF) will take place March 17-23 in the port city (about 200 miles north of Tokyo) and is set to be held annually, with a focus on long commercial animated footage.

The team will be led by Shinichiro Inoue as festival director and Tadashi Sudo as artistic director. Veteran producer and Genco Inc CEO Taro Maki has been named general secretary while Kenzo Horikoshi, whose production credits include Leos Carax Anetteis chairman of the executive committee.

The festival was launched at a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival, where it was also revealed that acclaimed director Oshii would be president of the jury for the first edition.

His 1995 feature film ghost in the shell is considered one of the best and most influential anime feature films ever made and has been cited as an influence by James Cameron and The matrix directors the Wachowskis. After Ghost In The Shell 2: Innocence played at the Cannes Competition in 2004, making it the first and only anime to compete for the Palme d’Or.

The competition stream should include 10-12 international titles. The program will also feature eight to ten titles showcasing “global trends” to provide insight into contemporary animation from around the world.

Awards for people and works that have contributed to the evolution of animation will also be included while the “Manga Gaze” will explore the relationship between animation and comics. Other sections will include retrospectives, an industry seminar and conference, and an educational program of workshops by international institutions.

The budget is estimated at 50 million yen ($400,000) and submissions will begin in November, with international critics serving on the selection committee.

Artistic director Tadashi Sudo said NIAFF will screen feature films made for theaters, but also those made for streaming platforms and TV series.

“VOD has changed the way we watch movies and cinema codes,” he said. “The seventh art has become accessible and mobile. The experience of watching a movie at home is different from that of a movie theater, where time, space and reactions are shared.

“Our ambition is to honor each animated film, whether it is released in theaters, on VOD or on television. We refuse to categorize anime by the form of its exploitation. Creativity and storytelling are at the heart of our festival.

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