Justin’s Japan: ‘Your Name’ Premieres at NYICFF

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Now celebrating its 20th year, the New York International Children’s Film Festival returns this month, continuing its mission to cultivate an appreciation for the arts for moviegoers of all ages.

Anime films are a staple of NYICFF, and this year’s citywide selections are “Rudolf the Black Cat” (Feb. 25, March 4-5, 19), a modern-day CGI-animated tale of two kitties that celebrates the wonder of discovery; “Panda! Go Panda!” (Feb. 26, March 5, 11, 18), a retro classic from 1972 directed by Isao Takahata and featuring original concepts and character designs by Hayao Miyazaki; and “Ancien and the Magic Tablet” (March 18-19), a fender- and genre-bending film set in the not-too-distant future whose second screening also hosts director Kenji Kamiyama as part of the closing ceremonies.

By far, the most anticipated film is the East Coast premiere of “Your Name” (Feb. 25). Released in Japan last August, it smashed all box office records for the year and is currently the highest-grossing anime film worldwide (beating out Miyazaki’s own Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” by over $40 million at press time).

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters per Second”), “Your Name” tells the story of a young man living in Tokyo and a young woman living in the countryside who suddenly start switching bodies on a regular basis. It has been widely praised for both its animation style and emotional impact.

For more on this year’s festival, visit http://nyicff.org. Tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com.