A new international animation film festival will be held for the first time in Niigata from March 17 to March 22, 2023. Titled The Niigata International Animation Film Festival, the event will focus on feature-length animation.
It aims at becoming the “largest festival in Asia with a competition section for feature-length animated films,” according to a press conference announcement by the festival’s executive committee held earlier today.
Niigata has been chosen due to Niigata City being famous for its mangaka and anime artists and has always played a pivotal role in popularizing the animation culture. The city offers animation programs at vocational schools and universities, with ca. 400 students aiming at becoming manga- and anime artists every year — the highest percentage of prospective mangaka and animators in Japan.
In addition, it was the Niigata natives that founded Toei Animation, which produced the first Japanese color feature-length anime — The White Snake Enchantress (白蛇伝).
Lastly, the Niigata Anime & Manga Festival and the Niigata Manga Award have been around since 1998.
The Niigata International Animation Film Festival will specialize in feature-length commercial animation for theater, distribution, and animated TV series, hoping to inspire the creation of industrial-scale global animation.
Further out, the Festival will host other off-site activities, including various art events, live performances of anime songs, and seminars on the animation industry, among others.
While much is yet to be disclosed, what has been made public is that director Mamoru Oshii will chair the jury, and KADOKAWA’s senior advisor Shinichiro Inoue will be the festival director. Taro Maki, the producer of the In This Corner of the World anime is charged with planning and production.
25 to 35 animated films, including 10 to 12 films that will be participating in the competition, will be screened at the Niigata International Animation Film Festival 2023. The entries will begin on November 2022.
Released in 1958 in Japan, Toei Animation’s The White Snake Enchantress was one of the first anime films to be released in the U.S. Titled Panda and the Magic Serpent in the U.S., the anime premiered in 1961. A restored version of the anime was screened in the Cannes Classics section at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
The film was inspired by The Legend of the White Snake, a famous Chinese legend that was first printed during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).
Toei Animation has since grown into one of the largest animation studios in Japan. Earlier this year, the studio announced the founding of the Toei Animation Sakuga Academy — a training program for prospective animators that will be launched in April 2023.
Hayao Miyazaki started his career at Toei Animation (1963), where he met director Isao Takahata who would later become a co-founder of Studio Ghibli.
Quite a history, you must admit, making Niigata just the place for the upcoming International Animation Film Festival.