The Animation Is Film Festival returns to Hollywood this weekend for its fourth edition with intriguing titles, including likely Oscar nominees.

The 2021 in-person event at TCL Chinese 6 counts among its banner selections a presentation of the opening night of “The Summit of the Gods”, with the director Patrick Imbert (“The big bad fox and other tales“) present for a Q&A, a” centerpiece “presentation of the new Mamoru hosoda feature film, “Belle” (with a Q&A Hosoda to follow) and the refugee feature film “Flee” closing the festival. Here are some of the highlights of the festival.

The voters of the Academy take note: “The Summit of the Gods” (France) is an insightful, even profound, look at the souls of those who are driven to climb the world’s most dangerous mountains. His beautiful, expressive hand-drawn figures populate the captivating story of Japanese mountaineers told in the manga by Jiro Taniguchi and Baku Yumemakura.

by Hosoda “Beautiful” (Japan) is – get it – “Beauty and the Beast” in the context of today’s virtual worlds and social networks, in the familiar context of the shy schoolgirl with a secret (here, no magic, but digital), seriously tackling child abuse and … it’s a musical. Hosoda “Mirai“was an Oscar nominee, and this one will get an awards look-see.

Jonas Poher Rasmussen “To flee” (Denmark) is essentially a first-person refugee documentary that had to be animated to bring its painful memories to life. It is the story of a man who fled war-torn Afghanistan and had to live under layers of narratives that were not his real self in order to survive. It is in turn heartbreaking and touching, and also worthy of reward.

“The passage” (France) takes a more directly dramatic approach to a refugee story, and is no less convincing than “Flee”. Her aesthetic – what looks like evocative oil paintings conveying the stories that go from fantastical reality to excruciating deprivation – is idiosyncratic and very expressive. The story follows two children trying to survive the frightening exodus from their country to an uncertain future full of traps and predators.

“Chimney Town Poupelle” (Japan) is a beautifully rendered adaptation of a children’s book about an overindustrialized town by Dickensian and the assembled magical being from “Frosty the Snowman” waste. The story is less compelling than some of the competing ones, but the visuals are meticulously detailed and evocative.

Don’t be fooled by the simple drawing style of “Nahuel and the magic book” (Chile); this boy-and-a-book “hero journey” story may sound like a ’70s Saturday cartoon, but it has some really scary villains and an entertaining magical duel.

Other feature films released out of competition included major studio releases “Luca, “”Raya and the last dragon, “”The Mitchells vs. the Machines” and “Vivo, “all discussed separately in these pages.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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