Inna Sahakyan has directed and produced feature-length documentaries, documentary series, and shorts, for over fifteen years. Following her feature-length debut co-directing the award-winning “Armenia’s Last Tightrope Dancer” in 2010, she directed “Mel” and “Aurora’s Sunrise,” completing both international co-productions in 2022. Inna also enjoys mentoring her native Armenia’s next generation of filmmakers.
Born in 1983, joined MADHOUSE in 2007.
She made her directorial debut at the TV series “BTOOOM!” in 2012.
She also worked as a production member with MADHOUSE main titles such as “Chihayafuru” (2011/TV), “Chihayafuru 2” (2013/TV), “My Story!!” (2015/TV), “Chihayafuru 3” (2019/TV), “No Game No Life” (2014/TV), “Hanayamata” (2014/TV), “Prince of Stride” (2016/TV), and “No Game No Life Zero” (2017/MOVIE)
Benjamin Massoubre discovered the richness and diversity of animated cinema in the halls of the Clermont Ferrand Short Film Festival. This interest quickly became a passion, then a vocation. After studying editing, Benjamin worked as an assistant on many live-action films and commercials before finally being able to work in animation. He worked first as an assistant editor then as an editor on various series and projects before moving on to feature films with prestigious films such as “At the Very Top of the World” and “Calamity” by Rémi Chayé, “The Big Bad Fox” by Benjamin Renner and Patrick Imbert, “Little Vampire” by Joann Sfar, “I Lost My Body” by Jérémy Clapin and “The Summit of the Gods” by Patrick Imbert.
Amandine Fredon came to cinema through drawing. After studying art, she naturally turned to animation, working mainly at the Folimage studio based in Valence for about fifteen years. Fredon specializes in the production of animated series for television, including “C’est bon” with Jean Pierre Coffe, “Ariol” from the comics of Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant, “Tu mourras moins bête” (You’ll Die Less Stupid), the adaptation of Marion Montaigne’s books for Arte.
Alê Abreu is a Brazilian film director, animator and screenwriter. In 2013, he released “The Boy and the World”, his second feature film. He won the Cristal for best feature film and the Audience Award at the Annecy Festival in 2014; among many awards, and was nominated at the Oscar for Best Animated Feature in 2016.
Creator and supervisor of the preschool animation series “Vivi Viravento: launched by Discovery Channel in 2018 in Brazil and Latin America. He is going to launch his third feature film “Perlimps” in June 2022 at the Annecy Festival.
After 25 years as an innovative short animation director, Kajsa Næss is ready for her feature film debut with TITINA. Næss is known for her playful, humorous and humanistic films. Her award-winning shorts have featured in prestigious festivals such as Clermont-Ferrand, Annecy and Tribeca. In addition to her many film awards, Næss has been granted the Norwegian Ministry of Culture’s Human Rights Award. Her dozen credits include It Was Mine (2015), It’s Up To You (2013), Deconstruction Workers (2008), Leonid Shower (2004) and Mother Said (1999). Kajsa founded the Oscar winning studio Mikrofilm together with producer Lise Fearnley in 1996.
With Viking Film producer Marleen Slot thrives to be a nurturing home for talents from all across the world, telling stories for audiences to strongly identify with, by filmmakers with whom she is closely connected. Viking Film believes in the power of real cooperation’s, being that with directors, writers, co-producers, financiers, crew and cast. Only in collectivity we are capable of bringing stories to a different level and attracting audiences from around the globe.
Since its establishment in 2011, Viking Film wants to create high-quality films for both the national and international market with a special focus on arthouse and animation films. Viking Film has (co)produced feature films by outstanding filmmakers from around the world, including DIRTY GOD (Sacha Polak, Sundance World Dramatic Competition and opening film IFFR, 2019), ROJO (Benjamin Naishtat, TIFF Platform and San Sebastian 2018), NEON BULL (Gabriel Mascaro, Venice Orizzonti and TIFF Platform 2015) and ZURICH (Sacha Polak, Berlinale Forum winner CICAE Art Cinema Award 2015).
Together with director Mascha Halberstad, Marleen opened in 2020 the Holy Motion Studio in Arnhem. The 600m2 animation studio is specialized in stopmotion animation and is currently finishing their first feature film, OINK.
Marleen worked as a producer at Lemming Film for many years. In 2007 she attended the EAVE producer’s training and in 2009 she participated in ACE. In 2013 she was selected Producer on the Move during the Cannes Film Festival. In 2020 she took part in Inside Pictures. Besides her work as a producer Marleen sees the importance of actively taking part in (inter)national film policy making. From 2016 until 2020 she has been chairman of the Netherlands Producers association.
Director Mascha Halberstad (1973) attended the ArtEZ Art Academy in Arnhem. She made animations for several feature films, including TAKING CHANCES (Berlinale Generation 2012) and HOW TO SURVIVE…
In 2012 she directed the short animation film GOODBYE MISTER DE VRIES. Also in 2012 she made the 13-episode animation series PICKNICK WITH PIE adapted from Thé Tjong-Khing’s books, which was broadcast by the VPRO and awarded the Cinekid Kinderkast Fiction – Jury prize 2013. Her film MUNYA IN ME won the Grand Jury Prize of the BANFF World Media Festival. In 2015, the Prodigy’s Liam Howlett asked her to make a music video for the song WILD FRONTIER. After that she directed several short films, the series FOX & HARE and the hilarious THE GREAT HUMMIMUMMI CHRISTMAS SPECIAL. At present she is finishing her first feature film, OINK and preparing the shoot of KING SAUSAGE, a 20’ musical prequeling OINK.
Together with producer Marleen Slot she built Holy Motion, a 600m2 animation studio where they animated the stopmotion film OINK and where many more stopmotion films will be produced in the feature.
Celebrated for his detailed spatial designs, use of transparent, airy colors and attention to depth of field, loundraw began his career as an illustrator when he was a teenager, finding early success on online platforms. He also created key visuals for various notable writers, including and illustration for the novel “I Want to Eat Your Pancreas,” which was later adapted to a theatrical film.
Outside of his work in illustration, loundraw’s debut original animation “Until Dreams Awaken” was released on YouTube in collaboration with the wildly popular Japanese rock band BUMP OF CHICKEN, and swiftly hit over 2 million views, and he was concept designer for the recent anime adaptation of Josee, the Tiger and the Fish.
Daisuke “Dice” Tsutsumi, originally from Japan, is a filmmaker and painter. A graduate from The School of Visual Arts in New York, Dice has worked as a visual development/color key artist at Blue Sky Studios on ICE AGE, ROBOTS and HORTON HEARS A WHO!
His credits at Pixar Animation include Lighting Art Director for TOY STORY 3 and MONSTERS UNIVERSITY. After the success of Dice’s directorial debut, the Academy Award nominated short film THE DAM KEEPER, Dice left Pixar to co-found Tonko House Inc. with Robert Kondo.
Dice is passionate about charity work and spearheaded both The Totoro Forest Project and Sketchtravel and in 2021 was recognized for his charitable contribution to the animation community with the June Foray Award.
Robert Kondo is co-founder and president of Tonko House, a San Francisco bay area based studio focused on creating animated narrative content. Formerly an art director at Pixar Animation Studios on films such as Ratatouille andToy Story 3, he lends his unique design sensibilities and passion for storytelling as co-director of the Academy-nominated short film, The Dam Keeper.
Originally from Southern California, Robert graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena as an illustrator. Robert took on the roles of both executive producer and production designer of Tonko House’s highly anticipated event series ONI: Thunder God’s Tale. He’s currently writing and illustrating Curiosities, a bedtime read-aloud book in partnership with First Second Books.
Sara K. Sampson is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker based in Oakland, CA. Born and raised in Kentucky, she moved to California in 2012 to launch her career at Pixar Animation Studios. While there, Sara contributed to several features such as the Academy award-winning films COCO and INSIDE OUT.
After five years at Pixar, Sara left to oversee production on three films, which include the independent short, SONDER, the Emmy award-winning LOVE, DEATH, + ROBOTS episode, THE WITNESS, and Emmy award-winning Google Spotlight Stories film + VR experience, AGE OF SAIL.
Sara recently produced the Emmy-nominated Glen Keane Productions + Netflix Original Series, TRASH TRUCK. She is currently producing the Tonko House + Netflix Animated Event Series, ONI: Thunder God’s Tale, while continuing to write and direct independent films.
Young actress Rosalie Chiang lends her voice to Mei Lee, a 13-year-old who suddenly “poofs” into a giant red panda when she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS). Sandra Oh voices Mei Lee’s protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming, who is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. A Pixar release. Director Domee Shi and producer Lindsey Collins in-person.
In Unicorn Wars, filmmaker Alberto Vázquez resorts to animated fantasy to ponder over the origin of evil. Two brothers – Azulín and Gordi – along with a group of new recruits without experience, are sent on a dangerous mission to save the Magic Forest from the unicorns that represent a threat for the security of their people. Will the little bears be up to the challenge?
A local urban legend claims that lighting fireworks at an abandoned airfield will call the “summer ghost,” a spirit that can answer any question. Three troubled teenagers – Tomoya, Aoi, and Ryo – do not know each other yet, but each has their own reasons to show up one day. When a sparkler is lit, a ghost named Ayane appears, and she reveals she is only visible to those “who are about to touch their death.” The three teens return home, but Tomoya soon begins visiting the airfield alone, as he becomes obsessed with the mystery surrounding Ayane and the true purpose of her visits. A GKIDS release. Director loundraw in-person.
From Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation comes the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world! Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. An Apple Films release. Director Peggy Holmes in-person.
When 9-year-old Babs receives a pig named Oink as a present from her grandfather, she convinces her parents to keep it under the condition that Oink follows a puppy training. But her parents are not the biggest threat to Oink because actually her grandfather is secretly taking part in the sausage competition organized by The Society for Meat Products from Fresh Pigs…
Italian airship engineer Umberto Nobile enjoys a quiet life with his beloved dog Titina, who charmed him into rescuing her from the streets of Rome. One day, Norwegian explorer superstar Roald Amundsen contacts him and orders an airship to conquer The North Pole. Nobile seizes the opportunity to go down in history. He brings Titina along, and the unlikely trio sets out on an expedition to the last undiscovered place on Earth. Their quest is successful but, in the aftermath, the two men start to quarrel over the glory … Through the eyes of the four-legged celebrity Titina, (re)discover a true story of triumph and defeat. Director Kajsa Næss in-person.
The newest film from Academy Award nominated Ale Abreu. Claé and Bruô, secret agents from enemy Kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, must overcome their differences and combine forces to find the Perlimps and infiltrate into a world controlled by Giants where war is imminent. Presented in collaboration with the Latino Film Institute, LALIFF, and LatinX in Animation.
Somewhere between Montmartre and Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Jean-Jacques Sempé and René Goscinny lean over a large white sheet of paper and bring to life a mischievous and endearing boy, Little Nicolas. From schoolyard games and fights to summer camp prank and camaraderie, Nicolas lives a merry and enriching childhood. As the adventures of Nicolas and his friends unfold, the boy makes his way into his creators’ workshop and light-heartedly questions them. Sempé and Goscinny will recount the story of their friendship, career, and reveal a childhood filled with hopes and dreams.
As Yang Jian confronts the actions of his past, he must face a host of dangerous vigilantes seeking the same treasure with the power to alter the balance of their worlds. This latest entry in the New Gods universe from Light Chaser Animation (White Snake, New Gods: Nezha Reborn) features awe-inspiring action sequences set against breathtaking and wildly imaginative environments. Combining ancient lore with dazzling animation, New Gods: Yang Jian is a timeless adventure of epic proportions featuring one of China’s legendary mythic figures. A GKIDS release.
In the almost twenty years since his iconic feature film debut, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) has brought to the screen the perversely macabre worlds of Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, and Neil Gaiman. For his newest film – his first since 2009’s Coraline – he joins forces with master of modern horror, Jordan Peele, adapting an unpublished story by Selick himself, to delight and terrify a new generation with his stop-motion artistry. When guilt-stricken orphan Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) arrives at Rust Bank Catholic, a fancy All-Girls school that takes in the occasional troubled youth – for a fee! – she discovers a connection to another world. There she meets Wendell and Wild (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), two scheming demons who, in exchange for entry to the Land of the Living, promise to fulfill Kat’s only wish.
A teenage girl goes from genocide survivor to Hollywood star. Losing her family, escaping slavery, enduring trauma and Hollywood greed, Aurora travels a very long way to tell the world about her people’s tragedy. Her courage long forgotten, Aurora’s odyssey is revived through this unique testimony, archive footage, and the magic of animation.
In a world filled with the oddball gods and monsters of Japanese mythology, one of the creature’s free-spirited daughters, Onari, is determined to follow in the footsteps of the mighty heroes of lore, but her unique powers are yet to be revealed. Does she have what it takes to protect her peaceful village from the encroaching presence of the mysterious “Oni” who threaten the gods? A 4-episode series on Netflix Anime, Animation Is Film proudly presents its World Theatrical Premiere. Creators Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi in-person.
The newest film from Oscar-nominated Nora Twomey and Cartoon Saloon, based on the Newbery-winning children’s book, this animated film follows a young boy who runs away to an island to rescue and befriend a young dragon. A Netflix release. Director Nora Twomey and screenwriter Meg LaFauve in-person.
Q+A with Director Nora Twomey
Co-founder of Ireland’s Cartoon Saloon, Oscar nominated Nora Twomey (The Breadwinner, AIF ’17) returns to Animation Is Film with this glorious adaptation of Ruth Stiles Gannett’s beloved children’s novel.
After their family store is forced to close, Elmer (Jacob Tremblay) moves to the big city with his mother to start anew. A random act of kindness to a stray cat (a talking cat, it turns out) sets Elmer off on an extraordinary voyage to Wild Island, home to beasts of all sizes, including a young dragon named Boris (Gaten Matarazzo.) What starts as a scheme to “rescue” his new friend turns into the adventure of a lifetime in this magical, big-hearted adventure from the studio that brought you Wolfwalkers and Song of the Sea. A Netflix release.
Q+A with Director Domee Shi and Producer Lindsey Collins
Disney and Pixar’s “Turning Red” introduces Mei Lee (voice of Rosalie Chiang), a confident, dorky 13-year-old torn between staying her mother’s dutiful daughter and the chaos of adolescence. Her protective, if not slightly overbearing mother, Ming (voice of Sandra Oh), is never far from her daughter—an unfortunate reality for the teenager. And as if changes to her interests, relationships and body weren’t enough, whenever she gets too excited (which is practically ALWAYS), she “poofs” into a giant red panda! A Pixar release.
The Gold Kingdom and the Water Kingdom had a long, troubled history filled with epic battles before they decided to take the drastic steps of building a wall between the two lands. But 100 years later, they make good on an agreement in hopes of bringing stability to all. The rulers from each land had decided that the Gold Kingdom would offer the most beautiful girl in their kingdom as a bride, to be wed to the most clever man from the Water Kingdom, creating not just a couple but the promise of renewed relations and peace.
When it comes time for the rulers to make good on their promise, neither is entirely honest or admirable in their attempts. The Gold Kingdom offers Sara, a kind-hearted, but homely princess while the Water Kingdom marries off Naranbayar, a lanky scholar of modest background. To add insult to injury, the two separately find themselves with a dog (for Sara) and a cat (for Naranbayar) as their partner-to-be. As Sara and Naranbayar individually navigate the palace schemes of their respective homelands, their paths soon converge in a heartwarming new spin on the classic fairytale set-up.
Kotono Watanabe’s feature debut is a feel-good romance filled with adventure and lovable characters. With playful humor and charming designs, it’s not hard to find something to treasure within Gold Kingdom and Water Kingdom.
A vibrant and diverse collection of student short films from some of the most highly regarded animation schools in the country.
Q&A with Director Alberto Vázquez
The Bears, engaged in an ongoing war with the Unicorns who they believe stole their ancestral land, are sent deep into the Magic Forest in search of a platoon that never returned from a previous mission. Deep behind “enemy” lines, the divide between two brothers, Tubby and Bluey, is exacerbated in the face of war.
Said by its director to be a cross between Bambi, Apocalypse Now, and The Bible, Alberto Vázquez’s nightmarish vision of Hell-on-Earth, contrasted with the cuddliest of teddy bears and most majestic of unicorns, is the newest arrival from one of the most evocative artists working in animation. Returning to Animation Is Film for the first time since 2017’s Birdboy: The Forgotten Children, Vázquez’s story contains visual and narrative references to Hamlet, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and John Milton, and is as damning a portrait of war as anything you’ll see on-screen this year.
Presented in collaboration with the Latino Film Institute, LALIFF, and LatinX in Animation.
NOTE: Contains images of extreme violence, drug use, cannibalism, and full frontal bear nudity, and is recommended for Adult audiences only.
Q&A with Director loundraw
A local urban legend claims that lighting fireworks at an abandoned airfield will call the “summer ghost,” a spirit that can answer any question. Three troubled teenagers – Tomoya, Aoi, and Ryo – do not know each other yet, but each has their own reasons to show up one day. When a sparkler is lit, a ghost named Ayane appears, and she reveals she is only visible to those “who are about to touch their death.” The three teens return home, but Tomoya soon begins visiting the airfield alone, as he becomes obsessed with the mystery surrounding Ayane and the true purpose of her visits.
Inspired by one of his own drawings, this remarkable directorial debut from the celebrated illustrator loundraw brings his lush visual sensibility to a poignant supernatural drama about the struggles of growing up, and the importance of living life to the fullest. A GKIDS release.
Q&A with Director Peggy Holmes
From Apple Original Films and Skydance Animation comes the story of Sam Greenfield, the unluckiest person in the world! Suddenly finding herself in the never-before-seen Land of Luck, she must unite with the magical creatures there to turn her luck around. An Apple Original Films release.
Q&A with Director Mascha Halberstad
Nine year old Babs lives a fairly content life in her idyllic Dutch town, but it’s turned a bit upside down when her wild-card American Grandfather shows up and camps out in the back of the family home. To Babs’s delight–and her vegetarian, cautious parents’s horror–he gives Babs a pet piglet named Oink. Babs always wanted a puppy but Oink is close enough, right? He is certainly just as charming. Her parents decide that if he can pass puppy training school then he can stay. If his schooling isn’t a big enough challenge, the town’s infamous Sausage King competition is gearing up. Danger seems to be lurking around every corner but could the biggest threat be closer to Babs than she thinks? The lovingly handcrafted stop-motion film by Mascha Halberstad is alive with humor and humanity.
Q&A with Director Kajsa Næss
Italian airship engineer Umberto Nobile lives a peaceful life in Rome with his beloved rescue dog, Titina. Umberto’s peaceful life is uprooted when the famed Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, befriends and hires him to make an airship capable of embarking on the dangerous journey to the North Pole. With trusty Titina by their side, the two make history after they return from the treacherous trail but success has bitter side effects and soon the two men are embattled over their newfound fame. Their insatiable thirst for glory threatens their friendship as they test the limits of just how far they can go.
Based on the real life story that captured the hearts and headlines of Europe in the 1920s, Titina employs artful, graphic animation to capture the majesty of a world not just seen from the sky but also through the eyes of an instantly-lovable four-legged adventurer.
Q&A with Director Alê Abreu
One of two films in this year’s lineup set in enchanted forests (the other being the tonally opposite UNICORN WARS), Alê Abreu’s colorful, hand-drawn panorama is among the most visually stunning films of the year. In a world on the brink of destruction, Claé and Bruô, agents from rival kingdoms of the Sun and the Moon, must put aside their age-old conflict and find the elusive Perlimps (from “pirilampos,” Portuguese for “fireflies”) the only thing that can save the world. Presented in collaboration with the Latino Film Institute, LALIFF, and LatinX in Animation.
The Animation Is Film Festival kicks off its fifth edition with this dizzying collection of some of the year’s best animated shorts from around the world.
Over long cafe chats and bistro dinners in Paris, writer René Goscinny and artist Jean-Jacques Sempé solidified their warm friendship. The two shared more than meals, though, as they created the iconic French character of Little Nicolas, a mischievous school boy whose antics have captivated audiences for decades. Little Nicolas has been captured in comics, books and live-action film adaptations but he comes to life in a new way in Annecy’s Cristal Award-winning Little Nicolas Happy as Can Be. Nicholas leaps off the page and speaks directly to his creators to learn more about their own origin story. The film not only shows moments of Nicolas reveling in the misadventures of adolescence, but reveals the significant childhoods of the two artists and how it shaped their dreams, fears and ambitions. With a screenplay co-written by Rene’s daughter Anne Goscinny the film elegantly translates the magic of Sempe’s illustrations, transforming them into fluid, timeless animation.
Q&A with director Henry Selick
In the almost twenty years since his iconic feature film debut, Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas) has brought to the screen the perversely macabre worlds of Tim Burton, Roald Dahl, and Neil Gaiman. For his newest film – his first since 2009’s Coraline – he joins forces with master of modern horror, Jordan Peele, adapting an unpublished story by Selick himself, to delight and terrify a new generation with his stop-motion artistry.
When guilt-stricken orphan Kat (voiced by Lyric Ross) arrives at Rust Bank Catholic, a fancy All-Girls school that takes in the occasional troubled youth – for a fee, of course! – she discovers a long dormant connection to another world. There she meets Wendell and Wild (voiced by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele), two scheming demons who, in exchange for entry to the Land of the Living, promise to fulfill Kat’s only wish. A Netflix release.
Returning for its 4th consecutive year, this jewel of the Animation Is Film program highlights a collection of female-directed short films. Programmed in partnership with the Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Women in Animation.
Q&A with Director Inna Sahakyan
At only 14 years old, Aurora lost everything during the horror of the Armenian genocide. Four years later, through luck and extraordinary courage, she escaped to New York, where her story became a media sensation. Starring as herself in Auction of Souls, an early Hollywood blockbuster, Aurora became the face of one of the largest charity campaigns in American history. With a blend of vivid animation, interviews with Aurora herself, and 18 minutes of surviving footage from her lost silent epic, Aurora’s Sunrise revives a forgotten story of survival.
Thirteen years after Yang Jian (known to some as Erlang Shen) imprisoned his sister beneath a mountain, the once powerful god now scrapes by as a penniless bounty hunter. When a mysterious woman hires him for a new job, Yang Jian soon finds himself chasing down a familiar figure. He must stop Chenxiang, his long-lost nephew, who is in search of the magical lotus lantern that will free his mother, even if it will bring catastrophe. As Yang Jian confronts the actions of his past, he must face a host of dangerous vigilantes seeking the same treasure with the power to alter the balance of their worlds.
This latest entry in the New Gods universe from Light Chaser Animation (White Snake, New Gods: Nezha Reborn) features awe-inspiring action sequences set against breathtaking and wildly imaginative environments. Combining ancient lore with dazzling animation, New Gods: Yang Jian is a timeless adventure of epic proportions featuring one of China’s legendary mythic figures. A GKIDS release.