The animated “A Letter to Momo,” a beautifully hand-drawn tale combinining bursts of whimsy, kinetic humor and deep-felt emotion (and goblins!), won the Grand Prize Feature award at Sunday’s conclusion of the New York International Children’s Film Festival.
Directed by Hiroyuki Okiura, A Letter to Momo had its United States premiere at the fest. Mitsuhisa Ishikawa, executive producer and CEO of Japan’s Production I.G. studio, accepted the award.
Director Nandita Jain attended to accept both the Special Jury Award for Best Animated Short and the Parents Award for her film The Storyteller, an Indian-British co-production. The film already won Best Animation at the LA Shorts Festival and Best School Animation at Córdoba International Animation Festival (ANIMA) in Argentina.
Based on a myth from Southern India, the short tells the poignant story of a grandfather who struggles to remember Nirmala, his granddaughter’s, favorite story. However, she takes up the storyteller role in the hope of ridding it of the demons within her grandfather’s version.
The Audience Award (Ages 3-6) went to The Gruffalo’s Child, directed by Uwe Heidschötter and Johannes Weiland of the United Kingdom.
Combining computer animation with live footage with computer animation, Extinction of the Sabertooth House Cat, by Damon Wong of the United States, won the Audience Award (Ages 5-10). A parody of earth-plunging asteroid documentaries typically seen on Discovery Channel, this short film reveals the last remaining minute of the prehistoric Sabertooth House-Cat existence in evolutionary history.
Jury members included Oscar-winning animator John Canemaker (The Moon and the Son) and award-winning writer-director-animator Michel Ocelot (Kirikou and the Sorceress, Tales of the Night).
Established in 1997, NYICFF is an Oscar-qualifying event and North America’s largest film festival for children and teens. This year’s edition attracted a sold-out-in-advance audience of 25,000.