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JUSFC40 Meet Our Grantees Series: New York International Children’s Film Festival
March 12, 2016
In celebration of its 40th anniversary, the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is having conversations with a number of grantees.
The Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission is delighted to support for the first time, the screening of short and feature-length Japanese films at the New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) that opened February 26th with The Boy and the Beast directed by Mamoru Hosoda. The Festival will run through Sunday, March 20th. This annual month-long Film Festival takes place at venues throughout New York City and presents 100 animated, live action and experimental shorts and features from around the world to an audience of 25,000 children, families, artists, and educators.
“These screenings reach students who might have never seen these films,” notes Abigail Parsons, the Festival’s development director. “The Festival allows us to introduce families to artistic styles and content from cultures that they might otherwise not be seeing.” Audience size for each screening ranges from 60 – 500 people. Everyone who attends the festival receives a ballot, and is able to provide comments to the organizers. “We are very excited to hear audience feedback,” Parsons remarks, adding that people comment on many aspects of the films, sometimes noting the historical context, and at other times mentioning that the film made them more aware of an issue, or more knowledgeable of an artistic style. Parsons adds that the organizers were excited to have The Boy and the Beast premiere on opening night because festival-goers in the past had appreciated and enjoyed the work of Japanese director Momoru Hosoda. “Families who have really engaged with his past films now come back and want to see his newest work,” she says. The other Japanese film at the festival is the Case of Hana and Alice by director Shunji Iwai.
Community engagement is a large part of the Festival, and it engages public and private schools throughout New York City, specifically schools in communities with limited resources. These schools are invited to attend week day screenings. The week-day school screenings program also provides curriculum guides and talking points teachers can use after the film to promote discussion with their students. “The festival has grown dramatically in the past three years and we are getting many families and kids involved and engaged with the films,” Parsons says. “We deeply appreciate the support of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission.”
The New York International Children’s Film Festival (NYICFF) was founded in 1997 to promote the creation and dissemination of thoughtful, provocative, and intelligent cinematic works for ages 3-18. Festival films typically span over 35 countries and are presented in over 15 different languages. The festival is an Academy Award®- qualifying festival, one of only three film festivals in New York State – and only two children’s film festivals in the country – to hold that honor. A number of films that premiered at the Festival have won or been nominated for Academy Awards®, and many have gone on to play other major film festivals and/or have been released for U.S. theatrical distribution.