This is not your Grandparent’s opera by Mozart! The title may sound familiar but that’s where the comparison ends. Take Mozart’s classic opera, mix in contemporary Harry Potter-esque elements, develop a budding love story between two time dimensions and you might be close to describing the narrative of this Magic Flute. Music in both worlds carries the day while Tim/Tamino’s epic quest to save a love in both worlds is put to the test.
France was the number two country from which we received submissions this year. (U.S. was #1, can you guess #3? The answer is at the end of the film synopsis!) With so many good ones to choose from we NEEDED to have a French film reel this year. The language is common between them but the styles run the gamut. Some highlights include two eight-year-olds who decide to embark on their own Montreal adventure, earthworms singing about their role in what could be your backyard, and a kingdom where “fashion rules the day”…until Ridicule arrives! Film on this reel include…
SONG OF AUTUMN (CHANSON D’AUTOMNE) is one of a series of animated shorts that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers who have just graduated from French animation schools interpret Verlaine’s poems in film. PCFF is showing three of these films this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir. Jean-Baptiste Marchand / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
WEDNESDAY (MERCREDI) Iris and Leo are waiting for their school bus, just like any other day. This morning, however, it does not arrive. Facing no rules but their own, the two eight-year-olds embark on an urban adventure, one they shall never forget, roaming the streets of Montreal. (2020 / 10 mins / Canada / dir. Lisa Delhom & Jérémy Paquet / live-action / in French w/English subtitles)
DOLIUM PÉPLUM – Recreating battle is one of the oldest games children play. In this short film from France, a vineyard is the setting for two epic forces to fight to the bitter end. (A little irony for U.S. viewers with the red vs. blue costumes.) A super creative short film with make-it-yourself costumes, weapons and battle accoutrements, you will sense the influences of classic battles depicted from Braveheart, Henry V, Kurosawa and even a little Monty Python. 🙂 (2020 / 9 mins / France / dir. Théo Nodet / live-action / in French w/English subtitles)
THE JELLYFISH (LA MEDUSE) – In an ocean infested by plastic, a little being leaves his reef and goes on an adventure on a jellyfish… (2019 / 4 mins / France / dir. Mélanie Peltier / animation / no dialogue)
THE NATURAL ORDER OF THINGS (L’ORDRE DES CHOSES) -An unintelligent insect, at the lower level of the food chain, survives its position as prey in the forest. But suddenly, the established order is overthrown. The insect provokes a sequence of accidents that build upon the other. (2019 / 4 mins / France / dir Luce Grosjean / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
WORMS OF EARTH (TERRE DE VERS) – Naked, slimy and rampant bros; No legs, no teeth, and no toes; We dig with no mischief, your burden we relief; We’re at your service, there is no artifice; The Earthworm team is here, as tight as musketeers. The lyrics say it all! (2019 / 8 mins / France / dir Hélène Ducrocq / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
LUPIN – A young wolf ventures out of his burrow for the first time, while his mother is busy hunting. Lost and frightened, he finds shelter in a garden. Jeanne, Gaston and Louis, the hunters’ children, find him and decide to bring him back to his home in the woods. (2020 / 11 mins / France / dir Hélène Ducrocq / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
CONQUISTADOR is one of a series of animated films that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers that have just graduated from French animation schools interpret the poems into their visions on film. PCFF is showing three of them this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir Jérémie Cousin / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
THE FAITHFUL FISH (LE POISSON FIDÈLE) – What would you do with a sculpin (a non-edible fish) that keeps biting on to your hook? Three children on vacation near a lake in Maine try and try and try to catch another fish. (2019 / 8 mins / Belgium / dir Atelier Collectif / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
PROMENADE SENTIMENTAL is one of a series of animated films that are inspired by the poems of Paul Verlaine. Young filmmakers that have just graduated from French animation schools interpret the poems into their visions on “film”. PCFF is showing three this year. (2020 / 3 mins / France / dir Emily Tronche / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
À LA MODE – In a kingdom tormented by fashion crazes, a queen and her court must always keep up with the new trend. If not, an abominable monster will consume them: the Ridicule. But with the arrival of a disarmingly natural cowboy, this nation of fashion victims laughs, and a simple question arises: what if the Ridicule isn’t what we think? (2020 / 9 mins / France / dir Jean Lecointre / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
ATHLETICUS: One Rink for Two – Flamingoes are rehearsing their figure skating number when the ice rink is invaded by a troop of elephant hockey players. The winner of this power play will find their time on the ice trunk-ated! (Ouch!) (2019 / 3 mins / France / dir Nicolas Deveaux / animation / no dialogue)
VANILLE – Vanille, a young Parisian girl who recently arrived in Guadeloupe, dives into an adventure tinged with mystery, meeting picturesque characters and a magic flower. These are holidays that promise to be rich in twists and turns! PCFF’s first film ever from Guadeloupe! And it’s soooo good! (2020 / 30 mins / France & Guadaloupe / dir Guillaume Lorin / animation / in French w/English subtitles)
Once again PCFF is delighted to offer a Spanish language shorts reel. The films of CineEspañol come from Spain, Colombia, Argentina and Mexico. A super creative mix of narratives that include a sister who will stop at nothing to bring joy to her brother’s life, a detective team that will remind you of Roger Rabbit, and a live-action film that might make you wonder if he really needs THAT chair…?! Films on this reel include…
BLUE & MALONE: Impossible Cases – Berta visits the old theater where her grandmother used to work on the eve of its demolition and finds out it’s not completely abandoned. Mortando Malone and Big Blue Cat, her old imaginary friends, are there to help with an impossible case — to recapture her capacity to dream. (2020 / 20 mins / Spain / dir. Abraham López / live action & animation / in Spanish w/English subtitles)
WILD LEA – Lea is a strong, lonely, and floral cat who discovers the complexity and the perks of friendships after falling from a tree. A very caring ragdoll named Ciro tends to her injuries and introduces Lea to his family of fixed-broken things. Unlike Lea, they have a fear of going anywhere outside the home. The day would come when they would need to overcome that fear to help their friend. Super imaginative animation where forks, toilet paper and napkins come alive! (2019 / 9 mins / Colombia / dir. María Teresa Salcedo Montero / animation / in Spanish w/English subtitles)
THE SIZE OF THINGS (El tamaño de las cosas) – Diego lives with his father in a house without things, without furniture, without anything. One day he finds a chair deep in the woods. Diego takes the chair back home but the father disagrees and orders him to return it. At night, the father recognizes the boy ́s feeling of disappointment and allows Diego to bring the chair again. Diego returns to the forest but something has happened, something really big. He can ́t bring the chair this time. (2019 / 12 mins / Colombia / dir. Carlos Felipe Montoya / live action / in Spanish w/English subtitles)
THE CHIMAI AND THE STORM – After a great storm, a very old Chimai (spiritual healer) tends to the damage created in the forest and the toppling of a massive tree. She finds an unexpected surprise and a great power is revealed. (2020 / 8 mins / Argentina / dir. David Bisbano / animation / no dialogue)
CROCODILE (Cocodrilo) WINNER 2021 Audience Choice Award Best Short Live-Action Film- As on every other afternoon, Alicia prepares a cup of tea and watches her favorite YouTube channel: VictorGaming, a role-playing video games channel. Victor, the YouTuber, is answering questions from his fans. Alicia has a very important thing to say to him. (2018 / 5 mins / Spain / dir. Jorge Yudice / live-action / in Spanish w/English subtitles)
MARIA CAMILA’S GIFT – In a park, nine-year-old Maria Camila gives any passerby a piece of paper with something written by her. Immediately after reading it, people begin to impersonate different animals. What power does María Camila have to transform them? (2019 / 12 mins / Mexico / dir. Andrés Molano Moncada / live-action / in Spanish w/English subtitles)
New England Premiere
TESOROS (Spanish for “treasures”) is the wonderful new film by director Maria Novaro (DANZON). Refreshingly told from the children’s perspective, it examines topics from fanciful ideas about finding treasure and exploring new places to social anxiety and fitting in, and is a charming window into the heart of a child’s world.
The action kicks off when a family moves to a small town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast and find it hard to assimilate because they are different from the rest of the community. They are not excited about the new place or the new school, but siblings Dylan and Andrea join the local school and slowly settle in, making new friends. Soon, Dylan notices his new city has an uncanny resemblance to a treasure map and daydreams about finding treasure left behind by Sir Francis Drake. He convinces the entire class that treasure is underfoot, and gets everyone to participate in the search.
The slow days of living by the coast, loving families and burgeoning friendships between the children are the real story here.There are many vignettes of children with their kin, all different, showcasing the many configurations of loving families, and many scenes illustrating the peaceful Mexican lifestyle.
Novaro elicits relaxed and natural acting from the children. Some of the older protagonists are in their teens, yet the audience feels part of their group, as if you knew them. The overall tone is reminiscent of one’s own childhood, with some dull moments idly passing by, including those grueling days at school, contrasted by very exciting times with friends, running around and chasing after…something. TESOROS takes us on an enchanting voyage that ends with a find far more precious than a lost pirate’s treasure trove.
Ten-year-old Fernando is a precocious boy living in a small Brazilian town in the 1930s with faithful friends and a strict yet loving family. His desire to tinker, explore and experiment constantly lands him in trouble. A resolution to this perpetual cycle of penance presents itself when a “twin Fernando” arrives unexpectedly. He willingly serves Fernando’s time (detention, grounding in his room, even attending school) while Fernando lives a life of indulgence, fishin’ n’ forts. All goes well, until it doesn’t!
Divercine International Children’s Festival 2007 Children’s Jury Award; Ene and Tõnis Kask Foundation of the Estonian National Culture Foundation 2006, Best Film; Latvian Film Festival 2007, Best Feature Length Animation;\Mill Valley Children’s Film Fest 2008, Audience Award; TINDIRINDIS International Animated Film Festival 2007, Best Feature-Length Animation
This feature-length animated film from Estonia is a gentle, spirited film full of wacky contraptions, silly/happy songs, and a warm and refreshingly un-cynical sense of humor. Lotte is a cheerful girl dog who lives in Gadgetville, a village crazy about inventing Rube Goldberg-esque machines. The town is abuzz about the Japanese bee Susumu, who introduces Gadgetville to the concept of judo. After the town becomes obsessed with the sport, Lotte and her three friends try to help Susumu get back to Japan to test their new skills in an international judo contest.
The Blue Gnomes that live in a mountain are in charge of the “magic silver” that brings sunlight to every day. The Red Gnomes are farm Gnomes with low opinions of those uppity Blues. After the magic silver is stolen by a gnome , the theft brings out the best between the two gnome groups to restore the daylight. With gnome hats to die for and a sleigh chase Tarantino would envy, this is the film that broke opening-day box-office records in Norway.
Ever wonder where you go when you sleep? In this beautifully animated stop-motion film, six-year-old Milo finds himself transformed into an animated character and swept into Dreamland, a secret nocturnal world of enchantment and adventure. There he sets sail in a magic car/boat through deliciously bizarre dreamscapes (full of giant chocolate bunnies, birthday cake women, cotton clouds and papier-mâché mountains) on a mission to try to upend the schemes of the nefarious Habumar, creator of nightmares, who has threatened children everywhere by stealing the Sand of Dreams. This sumptuously handcrafted film is perfect for youngest audiences, with its playfully inventive characters immersed in brilliantly colorful dreamscapes. Knowing that it took one day to create an average of 2.5 seconds of film action can contribute to appreciating this film technically. It took three years to make.
Check out a variety of creative films that cover a period unofficially referred to as “PP” (Pre-Pixar). Wallace and Gromit are the best-known characters (and are included here with their latest film) but there are some notable claymation predecessors that many kids may know nothing about.
This brilliant collection of short films includes the Academy Award winner “Creature Comforts,” the NYICFF Grand Prize winners “Humdrum” and “A Matter of Loaf and Death,” plus “Rex the Runt,” “Shaun the Sheep” and other mini-masterpieces spanning 25 years of creative output from Nick Park, Peter Lord, Richard Goleszowski, Peter Peake, Chris Sadler and the other claymation geniuses at Aardman Animations.
These inspired plasticine creations embody the best of Aardman’s sly wit and expressive style, and bubble over with a warmth and humanity that only such lovingly handmade films can convey.
As the PCFF film jury ballots were coming in, not only was this film very highly scored, many commented that this should be our opening night film: and so it became! Academy Award-nominated French animator Dominique Monfery celebrates the joy of reading in his imaginative feature. Seven-year-old Nat can’t read, making his inheritance of Aunt Eleanor’s collection of books immensely disappointing. Despite his love of having Eleanor read to him, his disinterest encourages his parents to sell the books to a greedy collector – after which Nat discovers that they were all first editions and furthermore, that their fictional characters come to life. If the books leave the library, the characters will fade into oblivion and leave the world without stories forever.
After he is magically shrunken to the size of the storybook characters, Nat joins Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan and other classic literary friends in a race against time to return the books to the library. Unfortunately, even if the books get back to the library, Nat is the only one who can read a secret incantation that will save his tiny friends. With its creative narrative, colorful animation and an uplifting musical score, “Eleanor’s Secret” will quickly win the hearts and imaginations of avid readers and film lovers alike.