Originally published at: https://geektherapy.org/animation-is-film-announces-2023-winners/
LOS ANGELES (October 25, 2023) – ANIMATION IS FILM (AIF) announced the winners of its sixth annual film festival today with the feature film CHICKEN FOR LINDA!, directed by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach, winning its top honor, the Grand Prize, as well as the Audience Award. Neon’s ROBOT DREAMS took home The Special Jury Prize. For the Shorts section, LETTER TO A PIG won the Grand Prize and WILD SUMMON earned the Special Jury Prize.
For 2023, the feature competition titles included: ART COLLEGE 1994, CHICKEN FOR LINDA!, THE CONCIERGE, MARS EXPRESS, PHOENIX: REMINISCENCE OF FLOWER, ROBOT DREAMS, SIROCCO AND THE KINGDOM OF THE WINDS & THE SUMMER.
The AIF opening night film THE BOY AND THE HERON and closing night film CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET were not eligible for juried or audience prizes.
“With ‘Chicken for Linda,’ Sébastien Laudenbach and Chiara Malta honor the challenges and rewards of being a single parent in a hectic world, employing a visually original artistic style through which lively brush strokes and daubs of color bring relatable human characters (and one very flustered chicken) to vibrant life,” said the Jury.
From US distributor GKIDS, CHICKEN FOR LINDA! tells the story of Paulette, who feels guilty after unjustly punishing her daughter Linda and would do anything to make it up to her. Linda immediately asks for a meal of chicken with peppers, which reminds her of the dish her father used to make. But with a general strike closing stores all across town and pushing people into the streets, this innocent request quickly leads to an outrageous series of events that spirals out of control, as Paulette does everything she can to keep her promise and find a chicken for Linda.
The Special Jury Prize winner, ROBOT DREAMS, directed by Pablo Berger, is based on the popular graphic novel by the North American writer Sara Varon and tells the adventures and misfortunes of Dog and Robot in NYC during the ’80s. NEON will release the film theatrically in the US.
“In a poignant mix of humor and pathos, director Pablo Berger adapts Sara Varon’s graphic novel, showing how people and places shape our lives, while paying homage to New York City in the 1980s,” the Jury said. “That he conveys this through pantomime and animation, without using dialogue, is all the more remarkable.”
For Shorts, LETTER TO A PIG, directed by Tal Kantor, took home the Grand Prize. In this short, a Holocaust survivor writes, after the war, writes a thank-you letter to a pig that saved his life. After his testimony in a classroom, a young student dreams a tragic version of his story.
“Utilizing a unique blend of hand drawn animation, paint on paper and footage segments, Tal Kantor has crafted an extraordinary portrait of trauma and how its aftermath can span generations,” said the Shorts Jury. “It is, in a word: genius.”
The Special Jury Prize for Shorts went to WILD SUMMON directed by Karni Arieli and Saul Freed. A natural history fantasy film, WILD SUMMON follows the dramatic life cycle of the wild salmon in human form.
“Karni Arieli and Saul Freed’s Wild Summon is a provocative and creative reimagining of a nature documentary that left us speechless,” said the Shorts Jury.
ANIMATION IS FILM hosted several sold-out events throughout the weekend. For opening night, GKIDS presented Studio Ghibli’s THE BOY AND THE HERON, the latest film from legendary filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, in the festival’s first IMAX premiere at the landmark TCL Chinese Theatre. In addition, AIF hosted multiple special events and Q&As with influential filmmakers over the course of the weekend, including a “Work-In-Progress” sneak peek at the upcoming studio release of Walt Disney Animation’s WISH alongside a celebration of 100 years of Walt Disney Animation and a special theatrical presentation of its newest short film, ONCE UPON A STUDIO with writer/director Chris Buck, director Fawn Veerasunthorn, writer/director Trent Correy, and writer/director Dan Abraham.
“The only metrics we can rely on for determining ‘success’ are audience size and growth, and by both of those standards, the sixth Animation Is Film was a triumph,” stated AIF director Matt Kaszanek. “We are so humbled and gratified at how AIF has been embraced by LA’s community of cinephiles. Thank you to our sponsors, our filmmakers, and our audience. We truly could not do this without you.”
The festival also included Dreamworks Animation’s special presentation of its latest film, TROLLS BAND TOGETHER, ahead of its U.S. theatrical release on November 17, 2023, the North American Premiere of Sony Pictures Animation/Sony Pictures Imageworks’ THE SPIDER WITHIN: A SPIDER-VERSE STORY, a new Spider-Verse short film, and the West Coast and US debuts, respectively, of Neon’s film ROBOT DREAMS (Spain, France) and GKIDS’ CHICKEN FOR LINDA! (France/Italy). The festival also presented award-winning shorts films, with directors of THE DAY I BECAME A BIRD, STARLING, ROSEMARY A.D. (AFTER DAD) participating in a lively Q&A event.
Other special sections included the popular Best of Annecy: Spotlight on Women Directors, presented in partnership with Annecy and Women In Animation; and a centennial celebration of Warner Bros. Animation featuring a special Q&A and screening featuring never-before-seen “Looney Tunes Cartoons” shorts.
The festival closed with the sold-out Los Angeles premiere of the eagerly-anticipated sequel to the beloved and highest-grossing stop-motion animated film of all time, Chicken Run, CHICKEN RUN: DAWN OF THE NUGGET. Director Sam Fell and Executive Producer Peter Lord participated in a Q&A following the film.
GRAND PRIZE: CHICKEN FOR LINDA! Directed by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: ROBOT DREAMS directed by Pablo Berger
AUDIENCE AWARD: CHICKEN FOR LINDA! Directed by Chiara Malta and Sébastien Laudenbach
GRAND PRIZE – SHORTS: LETTER TO A PIG directed by Tal Kantor
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – SHORTS: WILD SUMMON directed by Karni Arieli & Saul Freed
The 2023 edition featured a jury of animation experts.
Peter Debruge (Chief Film Critic, Variety / Jury Chair)
Andrew Ruhemann (Oscar-winning Director of THE LOST THING)Bill Desowitz (Awards Editor, Craft & Animation at Indiewire)
Charles Solomon (Critic and Historian)
Marge Dean (Emmy-winning producer and Head of Animation Studio at Skybound Entertainment, President of Women in Animation)
Nora Twomey (Oscar-nominated director of THE BREADWINNER and MY FATHER’S DRAGON) Ramin Zahed (Editor-in-Chief for Animation Magazine)
Monica Lago-Kaytis (producer of WRECK-IT RALPH and ZOOTOPIA, co-founder, Rise Up Animation)
Aubry Mintz (Director at the School of Art at CSULB and VP ASIFA-Hollywood)
Pamela Ribon (Oscar-nominated writer of MY YEAR OF DICKS and MOANA)
The 6th Annual ANIMATION IS FILM Festival took place October 18-22 at the TCL Chinese 6 Theatres in Hollywood. The festival presented a program of eight animated feature films in competition, with selections from Asia and Europe, and filmmakers attending the screenings and hosting Q&As. The festival was produced by GKIDS in partnership with Annecy International Animation Film Festival and Variety. The full 2023 film lineup is available at AnimationIsFilm.com.