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New York International Children's Film Festival 2012

We give you the lowdown on the best features and shorts at this year's cinema celebration.

  • A Letter to Momo

  • A Letter to Momo

  • Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

  • Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

  • Shorts for Tots

  • Shorts for Tots

  • Lotte and the Moonstone Secret

  • Lotte and the Moonstone Secret

  • Cinderella Moon

  • Cinderella Moon

  • Photograph: Frame Grab

    Chimpanzee

  • Photograph: Kristin J Mosher

    Chimpanzee

  • Photograph: Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation

    The Pirates! Band of Misfits

  • Photograph: Aardman Animations for Sony Pictures Animation

    The Pirates! Band of Misfits

  • Le Tableau

  • Le Tableau

  • The Monkey King

  • The Monkey King

A Letter to Momo

When the Oscar nominations were announced in January, many fans were shocked that two little-known films (A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita) edged out Cars 2 for Best Animated Feature nods. But veterans of the New York International Children's Film Festival, now in its 15th year, weren't surprised: Both films were audience favorites at last year's festival. Will this year's roster of features and shorts from across the globe produce any future Academy favorites? We'd bet the Oscar pool on it. NYICFF runs March 2--25 at various locations in Manhattan; purchase tickets at gkids.com—many screenings are already sold out, but new ones are still being added. Read on for some of this year's highlights.

If you're into Japanese anime...
Fans of Miyazaki-style anime can check out two features by the next generation of great Japanese artists. A Letter to Momo by Hiroyuki Okiura (ages 8 and up) is a story about a girl who finds an unfinished letter from her missing father and tries to figure out what it all means—with the help of some mischievous goblins. Makato Shinkai's Children Who Chase Lost Voices From Deep Below combines photorealistic images with whimsically imagined forest creatures. Keep in mind: It also includes some violence and dark themes, which may be too intense for kids under 11.

If your kids have serious Beatlemania...
The Blue Meanies and Paul's Grandfather are back! NYCIFF will host the first United States screening of Yellow Submarine in a decade—kids of all ages and their parents will be swept away by the psychedelically inspired colors and images. Also on the agenda: the 1964 classic A Hard Day's Night (ages 6 and up). The dry humor and crazy antics of the baby-faced Beatles are so charming that your kids may never go back to the more manufactured pop stars of the 21st century. The Fab Four's thick accents may have some kids scratching their heads, but that's okay; they'll still enjoy the music and shenanigans.

If you have an antsy toddler...
There are six scheduled screenings of Shorts for Tots—always a popular ticket for the tiniest fans (ages 3 to 6). The ten mini films, from as far away as Portugal, Sweden and Japan, feature lots of adorable animals, curious children and even a boy made out of cardboard. If you think your little one is ready for a feature, check out Lotte and the Moonstone Secret (ages 3 to 8). This sweet animated film features a playful pup who is, according to festival director Eric Beckman, "the Mickey Mouse of Estonia and Latvia."

If you like fairy tales with a twist...

Sure, there's a lost slipper, a royal ball and a mean stepmother, but the live-action feature Cinderella Moon (ages 7 and up) is worlds away from the Disney story we're familiar with. Based on the earliest known version of the Cinderella tale, this enchanting film was made in Yunnan, China, with actors speaking in English.

If you want to see the hits before your friends do...
Sneak a peek at two mainstream movies that will be released to the rest of the country later this year. Chimpanzee, a sumptuous live-action feature from Disneynature, was shot in the African rain forest and chronicles the true story of an adorable baby chimp named Oscar who must fend for himself after some monkey business separates him from his family (all ages). The Pirates! Band of Misfits, from the claymation geniuses at Aardman (multiple Oscar winners for the "Wallace and Gromit" series), follows a ragtag bunch of pirates as they crack jokes while crossing the ocean and cavorting through Victorian London (ages 6 and up).

If you like your movies suffused with art...
The Monkey King—Uproar in Heaven is a restoration (in 3-D no less!) of a 1961 hand-drawn masterpiece that festival director Eric Beckman calls the most phenomenal animated film ever to come out of China (the Cultural Revolution shut down the film industry soon after its release). With a soundtrack inspired by the Beijing Opera, the film tells the fantastical story of a monkey who wreaks havoc on the other animal gods (ages 8 and up). France's Le Tableau, full of colorful, swirly delights, is an allegory in which the figures in an artist's paintings are divided into three social castes based on how finished they are: the royal Alldunns, the incomplete Halfies and the outcast Sketchies (ages 7 and up).

The NYICFF runs Mar 2--25. Click here for schedule and venue information. Time Out Kids readers receive $4 off any screening of Lotte and the Moonstone Secret and $3 off any of the Shorts for Tots programs. To receive the discount, go to gkids.com and click on "Tickets." Select the time of the screening you'd like to attend and enter the access code "LOTTE12."

 

 

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