In a special announcement from Cannes, details of the first annual Niigata International Animation Film Festival have been revealed. Organized by the NIAFF Executive Committee, produced by film distributor/cinema operator Eurospace and anime production company Genco – with support requests from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and of the agency for cultural affairs – the inaugural edition is scheduled for March 17-22, 2023.

With a focus on commercial animated feature films, NIAFF aims to create a prestigious meeting place between culture and animation, presenting films produced for cinemas, streaming platforms and even re-edited feature films. television on an equal footing.

“VOD has changed the way we watch films and cinema codes. The seventh art has become accessible and mobile. The experience of watching a film at home is different from that in a cinema, where time, space and reactions are shared”, commented the artistic director of the program. Tadashi Sudō. “Our ambition is to honor each animated film, whether it is released in theaters, on VOD services or on television. We refuse to categorize anime by the form of its exploitation. Creativity and storytelling are at the heart of our festival.

Animated films are now produced all over the world; in Asia, Europe, America, Africa, Middle East and Oceania. Each country produces works that vary considerably in style, carrying different stories and cultural values. Previously aimed at children and fans, animation is becoming increasingly popular around the world. In this context, and while the major animation events tend to be centered in Europe and North America, NIAFF seeks each year to give animation a real platform, in the heart of Asia, in creating a place of meeting, exchange and transmission that brings new perspectives on the world.

NIAFF will invite universities, studios and other organizations dedicated to animation to organize events such as training workshops, international industry and market conferences and seminars. The festival will also explore new theories in the world of animation, covering topics rarely discussed internationally and creating space for critical reflection.

mamoru oshii

“An animated film is a fictional film, but the ways of producing and filming are incomparable. Animation is a completely different discipline, the differences are multiple: between acting and the drawing of the animator, between the role of the director of a fiction film and that of an animated film. mamoru oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Innocence, Sky Crawlers), who chairs the jury of the 1st NIAFF. “I would add that Japanese animation is a very special exercise…”

Festival organizers stressed that animation is a representative culture of Japan and should be valued, nurtured and developed in the country. Japan has long been a hub of animation in East and South-East Asia and must have an international animation film festival to promote creation, the training of talents, the circulation of works, encourage the birth of collaborations and promote animation as a whole.

As a port city on the Sea of ​​Japan, Niigata was the largest city in Japan in the 19th century. It remains a major hub between China, Korea and Russia. Its rich nature, culture and history, as well as its proactive approach to creativity, attract many people. Many top manga artists and animation creators were born there. Japan’s first color animated film
feature film, Hakujaden (The white snake) was created by Niigata natives Hiroshi Okawa and Koji Fukiya, at Toei Animation Studio.

In 2012, the city of Niigata established the Manga and anime city development concept” to enhance the city’s attractiveness as a manga city, promote it nationwide, support the sustainable development of manga and anime-related industries, and revitalize the city.

Additionally, with the development of new production methods and recent lifestyle changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people working in animation production are moving outside of Tokyo and new studios are created. Japan currently has a record 400 students training to become anime and manga artists at vocational schools and vocational universities across the country.

manga house

The Niigata City Manga House

Niigata is already home to…

  • the Niigata Anime/Manga Festivalwhich attracts around 50,000 visitors a year.
  • the Niigata City Manga and Anime Information Centerthat promotes the fun of manga and animation
  • the Niigata City Manga Housea manga library with a collection of 10,000 volumes.

Besides Sudo, an animation journalist, and Oshii, the inaugural festival is led by the festival director Shinichiro Inoue (former editor of new genre), General secretary Taro Maki (producer Genco, In this corner of the world, Mobile Police Patlobar) and President Kenzo Horikoshi (Eurospace producer, Annette, like someone in love). The Executive Committee presents the NIAFF in collaboration with Kaishi Vocational University and Niigata University (to confirm).

The program will include a feature film Competition (10-12 films), a Global trends overview of contemporary animation from around the world (8-10); The future of animation awards for people and works that have contributed to the evolution of animation; the manga lookexploring the relationship between animation and comics; Retrospectives highlighting artists and international art movements; Academic program (industry seminar and conference) and Educational program (seminars & workshops).

Apart from the main program, participants will be able to enjoy a Opening ceremonyinhabit anime song shows and Projection mapping around the room, with the reason for the proposed animation work. Special exhibitions such as “A Story of Anime Clothes” are also considered.

The NIAFF Film Competition will be open for submissions from November 2022, overseen by a selection committee including international critics.