The New York International Children's Film Festival 2021 announces its special programs

The New York International Children's Film Festival 2021 announces its special programs

The New York International Children's Film Festival (New York International Children's Film Festival) (NYICFF) on Friday morning, it announced its 2021 special programs. Animation takes center stage at the 24th edition, which opens on March 5 with a preview event for City of Ghosts the animated Netflix series. Chilean-Brazilian animated film Nahuel and the Magic Book (Nahuel and the Magic Book) will premiere in North America on March 6 as the 2021 Opening Spotlight. And the Festival will conclude with a screening of the Closing Spotlight of the Disney film Raya and the last dragon, featuring an exclusive live conversation with co-directors Don Hall and Carlos López-Estrada, and appearances by voice actresses Kelly Marie Tran and Awkwafina.

All three programs continue the Festival's long tradition of offering new films that connect worlds and broaden horizons. This year's selection highlights stories of children, who discover their cultural histories, define their identities and shape their future by connecting with the past. For the first time fully virtual, NYICFF 2021 will provide families across the country with access to the best animated, live-action and documentary films and shorts from around the world, amplifying diverse voices and sparking conversations about this complex cultural moment and the complicated events taking place all over the world.

“Our mission has always been to give young audiences the complex and nuanced programs that we know they can understand and enjoy,” said NYICFF Executive Director Nina Guralnick. “We are thrilled to present films, which generate the kind of joy and inspiration that comes from exploring the many cultures and shared humanity of the world we live in, especially at a time when we are unable to travel much farther than our families ".

NYICFF Programming Director Maria-Christina Villaseñor said, “We are thrilled to highlight City of Ghosts, Nahuel e Stripe as animated works that exploit children's penchant for curiosity, keen observation and careful listening to connect generations and cultures and under-represented stories. These creative, artistic, delightful and deeply meaningful works embody NYICFF's core mission to foster a smarter and more diverse film culture for children. ”

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Opening night: City of Ghosts

City of Ghosts comes from Emmy-winning writer / director Elizabeth Ito and is inspired by her experiences as a fourth generation Japanese-American - or I was there - growing up in the multicultural neighborhoods of Los Angeles. Featuring a fascinating blend of animated characters and live-action settings, City of Ghosts is a documentary-style series about a group of Los Angeles ghost loving children who learn about their city's rich history through meeting friendly neighborhood ghosts. Each episode is based on the stories of characters expressed by real residents of different neighborhoods. The Ghost Club helps others explore their city by communicating with the ghosts of the past.

Ito serves as executive producer and showrunner on the six-episode series. He won a 2017 Primetime Emmy for his work on the Cartoon Network animated series Adventure Time and created the short film CN Welcome to my life, which won the NYICFF Audience Award and discussed at the Festival's inaugural Animators All Around panel that same year. In 2020, Ito served on the NYICFF jury along with fellow directors, actors and academic / industrial leaders committed to recognizing and supporting the best new works for young audiences and around the world.

Viewers can watch the first episode of City of Ghosts on Netflix when it premieres on March 5 (watch the trailer here) before entering the NYICFF at 20pm. ET / 00pm PT for an exclusive live conversation with Ito and other members of the show's creative team. The conversation will be available through the Festival's social media accounts and pass holders will have the opportunity to participate in a question and answer session through the Festival's official streaming platform.

“One of the big reasons why I created City of Ghosts was celebrating children's ingenuity, humor and imagination, which, for me, makes NYICFF the perfect place to celebrate the premiere of City of Ghosts  “Said Ito.

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Opening spotlight: Nahuel and the Magic Book (Nahuel and the Magic Book)

NYICFF 2021's opening Spotlight program, which takes place on March 6, includes the first in North America of Nahuel and the Magic Book (Nahuel and the Magic Book), a new animated film from Chile and Brazil, followed by a special Q&A with director Germán Acuña. Acuña has made a richly detailed and expressive 2D animated feature film, absolutely distinctive but with undertones of stylistic influence from Studio Ghibli, set in a universe of magic and ancient indigenous mythology. The son of a fisherman, Nahuel struggles with his deep fear of the sea. An ancient magical book appears to offer a solution, but it leads to more challenges in this epic tale of finding strength and connection.

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Closing reflectors: Raya and the last dragon

The NYICFF will offer audiences an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Disney's latest animated film, Raya and the last dragonand the research and artistic mastery that derive from it. The stellar creative team of co-directors Don Hall (co-director, Big Hero 6) and Carlos López-Estrada (Blindspotting), together with screenwriters Adele Lim and Qui Nguyen (Vietgone) take inspiration from the rich cultures of Southeast Asia to create the fascinating mythological universe of Kumandra, where humans and dragons once lived together in harmony. Now, 500 years later, the same monsters that chased dragons from the earth have returned and it is up to the lone warrior Raya to track down the last dragon and save the world.

More programming announcements are on the way.

NYICFF @ Home will take place from March 5th to 14th, entirely online. More information available on

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