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New York International Children’s Film Festival Opens Window to the World

North America’s largest festival for young audiences starts tomorrow and this year’s line-up is killer. It features U.S. premieres of works from around the world, including a few notable new animated features from renowned masters. As the market for children’s entertainment feels like it’s increasingly saturated by bland, marketing-driven storytelling in the United States, international animation continues to thrive with personal stories, artistic visions, and creative risks. Don’t just let your kids watch the latest works from major studios on streaming services. Take them out to one of the highlights of this year’s NYICFF. 

The festival reportedly “celebrates friendship, community and art as vital forces in our lives and crucial tools to push against the status quo and open new avenues of joy and possibility.” Who wouldn’t want their kids to be a part of an event with that kind of a mission statement?

One thing that immediately caught my eye was the International Premiere of “Ernest & Celestine: A Trip to Giberritia,” the follow-up to the 2013 gem “Ernest & Celestine,” a wonderful must-see if you have yet to do so. The sequel follows in the footsteps with equal parts grace, whimsy, and insight about the importance of art and friendship. It’s a delight. It plays March 3rd.

Other highlights include the centerpiece “Dounia & The Princess of Aleppo,” a tenderly hand-drawn work from Syrian-Canadian filmmakers Marya Zarif and André Kadi. Stories of wartime seen through the eyes of children are common in international animation but this one boasts a personal touch that feels pure. Fans of Tsujimura Mizuki’s popular novel “Lonely Castle in the Mirror” won’t want to miss that U.S. premiere.

Fresh off acclaim at the Berlinale, NYICFF also landed the North American premiere of “Suzume,” the latest from the brilliant Makoto Shinkai, director of “Weathering with You” and “Your Name.” It will get a theatrical release in April but here's a chance to see it early on March 5th. We'll review it in April.

The rest of the line-up can be found here. Don’t miss it.

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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