2021 Festival Programs

There's a lot to see and sort through (even by our standards!), but fear not: if you have any questions, find our comprehensive guide here.

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It's OfficialCommemorate the first-ever virtual Festival with the official 2021 t-shirt (while raising much-needed funds for all of our programs).
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  Further Reading
These films are based on a book or graphic novel.
  Girls' POV
Not just for girls! These films feature empowered girls breaking the mold.
  True to Life
These films are inspired by a true story or are set in a real time in history.
  Canadian Voices
Highlighting the diversity of Canadian filmmaking

  Filmmaker Q&A
These programs will feature a live Q&A with filmmakers (tune in live to ask questions or catch it later on demand)

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Best of the Fest 2021

Special Program Recommended ages: 8+

We’ve tallied the votes, and the results are in. These are the shorts with the highest votes, according to YOU. Watch these Festival favorites before we announce the winners on Monday, March 22.

Beans

Canada
Live Action, Tracey Deer; 2020, 92 min

Feature Recommended ages: 14+
In English

In the summer of 1990, Beans, a sweet and studious twelve-year-old Mohawk girl, is suddenly forced to grow up fast and become her own kind of warrior when a land occupation battle creates a fierce stand-off between her indigenous community and the government. Torn between innocent childhood and reckless adolescence, she struggles to build her own identity amidst the chaos … Read More

Features a Q&A with director Tracey Deer

The Bears’ Famous Invasion

France, Italy
Animation, Lorenzo Mattotti; 2019, 82 min

Feature Recommended ages: 10+
In French, with English subtitles

In this beautifully animated version of the classic tale, the great Bear King Léonce searches for his long lost son Tonino, leading his clan down from the mountains and into the world of men.

Buladó

Curaçao, Netherlands | International Premiere
Live Action, Eché Janga; 2020, 86 min

Feature Recommended ages: 12+
in Papiamento and Dutch, with English subtitles

In the Curaçao countryside, rational father Ouira, spiritual grandfather Weljo, and eleven-year-old Kenza search for connection and freedom in this evocatively cinematic, magical-realist saga.

Calamity

Denmark, France
Animation, Rémi Chayé; 2020, 85 min

Feature Recommended ages: 8+
In French, with English subtitles

Twelve-year-old Martha Jane and her family are headed west in a covered wagon when her father’s injury means she’s suddenly forced to take the reins. She embraces the role, becoming the bold, mythic Calamity Jane.

Features a Q&A with director Rémi Chayé

Opening Night: City of Ghosts Q&A

United States | Premiere Event
Animation, Elizabeth Ito; 2021, 17 min

Special Program Recommended ages: 5+
In English

Live Q&A on March 5th at 8pm ET
Watch the first episode of City of Ghosts on Netflix then join us for an exclusive, making-of conversation with showrunner and creator (and NYICFF 2017 award-winner) Elizabeth Ito, and members of the creative team. Go behind the scenes of this innovative new series and ask your questions directly!

Curtain Up!

United States
Documentary, Hui Tong & Kelly Ng; 2019, 69 min

Feature Recommended ages: 8+
in English and Mandarin, with English subtitles

Nervous excitement and flubbed lines jostle against Asian-American stereotypes and family expectations as the 5th graders of PS 124 get ready for their big debut of Frozen Kids in this inspiring doc.

The Fantastic Journey of Margot & Marguerite

France | US Premiere
Live Action, Pierre Coré; 2020, 89 min

Feature Recommended ages: 10+
In French, with English subtitles

Marguerite and Margot are both 12, each with her own family, friends, problems…and era! One lives in 1942 and the other in 2020, until a mysterious trunk flips the script.

Flora and Ulysses Special Event Q&A

United States
Live Action, Lena Khan; 2021, 95 min

Special Program Recommended ages: Rated PG
In English

Join us for a live Q&A with author Kate DiCamillo and director Lena Khan on 3/11 @ 1pm ET
Disney’s Flora & Ulysses based on the Newberry Award-winning book, is available to stream on Disney+.

Jackie & Oopjen

Netherlands | New York Premiere
Live Action, Annemarie van de Mond; 2020, 90 min

Feature Recommended ages: 8+
In Dutch, with English subtitles

Twelve-year-old Jackie knows the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam like the back of her hand, but when Oopjen, a famous Rembrandt portrait, comes to life, Jackie suddenly has her hands more than full in this wacky, warm, and art-filled tale.

The Legend of Hei

China | World Premiere English Language Version
Animation, MTJJ Mutou; 2019, 101 min

Feature Recommended ages: 9+
In English

It’s up to cat spirit Hei and a band of motley warriors to save the forest from relentless developers in this caper filled with heart, soul, fantasy, and extraordinary adventure.

Magic Light Celebration

Special Program Recommended ages: 3+
In English

The winner of audience awards at NYICFF year after year, Magic Light Pictures gets a full spotlight this year as we feature their newest film, Zog and the Flying Doctors, and offer a much-requested encore of the 2021 Oscar-shortlisted animationThe Snail and The Whale.

The Mitchells vs. the Machines: Sneak Peek + Q&A

United States
Animation, Michael Rianda; 2021, min

Special Program

Produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (Spider-Man™: Into the Spider-Verse) and directed by Michael Rianda, The Mitchells vs. The Machines is an original animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation and Netflix about an everyday family’s struggle to relate while technology rises up around the world!

Moominvalley: The Hobgoblin Trilogy

Finland, UK | US Premiere
Animation, Steve Box; 2019, 66 min

Feature Recommended ages: 5+
In English

Moominmania is back at NYICFF with another exclusive installment of Tove Jansson’s beloved characters in The Moomin Hobgoblin Trilogy, as Moomintroll, Moominmamma, Thingumy, and Bob wrestle with a magic hat and all kinds of hijinks!

My Dad is a Heel Wrestler

Japan
Live Action, Kyohei Fujimura; 2018, 110 min

Feature Recommended ages: 9+
In Japanese, with English subtitles

When 9-year-old Shota discovers an unexpected truth beneath his father’s mask, he’s forced to rethink his ideas about his wrestler dad in this heart-warming, body-slamming, smile-inducing tale that lights up the ring.

Opening Spotlight: Nahuel and the Magic Book

Brazil, Chile | North American Premiere
Animation, Germán Acuña; 2019, 99 min

Special Program Recommended ages: 8+
In Spanish, with English subtitles

Live Director Q&A on March 6th at 7pm ET Watch the North America premiere before tuning in for a live, interactive Q&A with director Germán Acuña. Life in Nahuel’s seaside town revolves around the ocean, which makes his fear of water a challenge. What’s worse, he can’t help his fisherman father on his boat. One day, Nahuel finds a magical … Read More

Closing Spotlight: Raya and the Last Dragon

United States | Premiere Event
Animation, Don Hall & Carlos López Estrada; 2021, 107 min

Special Program Recommended ages: Rated PG
In English

Live Film Screening + Special Event on March 12 at 7pm ET/4pm PT & 10pm ET/ 7pm PT
Learn about the research and artistry that went into bringing Disney’s latest animated feature to life! Catch a live screening of Raya and the Last Dragon followed by an exclusive conversation with Raya herself, Kelly Marie Tran, and the filmmakers from Walt Disney Animation Studios.

Q&A only—includes conversation with the cast & crew

Sisters: The Summer we Found our Superpowers

Norway | New York Premiere
Live Action, Silje Salomonsen & Arild Østin Ommundsen; 2020, 77 min

Feature Recommended ages: 7+
In Norwegian, with English subtitles

Vega and Billie must find their way out of the woods to save their injured father. If they succeed, they just might discover the magic of nature and the power of sisterhood along the way.

Shorts For Tots

60 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 3+

Share your love of cinema with your little ones with Shorts for Tots curated to charm and delight our youngest viewers, ages 3+, in their very first screen experiences. Little Emi in The Yogi Walrus craves ice cream and always wants more, but learning to savor is the cherry on top. Meanwhile, in Kenya’s Symphony, a stubborn 5-year-old reluctantly heads … Read More

Short Films One

75 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 5+

For ages 5 and up, Short Films One features films filled with wonder, whimsy, and awe to deepen kids’ growing appreciation for cinema through an inventive range of storytelling approaches. A tiny story with a big tale of acceptance at its heart, Tulip captures a wondrous world in miniature through its meticulously crafted stop-motion animation. You’ll be equally dazzled when … Read More

Short Films Two

80 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 8+

With shorts for ages 8+, Short Films Two features deeper themes and multilingual films with English subtitles. Stop motion equals nonstop action in Wild Lea, as a feral Colombian cat goes from lonely to loved, but can she learn to settle down with her new makeshift family? And when Parisian Vanille is forced to spend the summer with her auntie … Read More

Girls’ POV

80 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 10+

The intrepid and insightful girls of this 2021 slate aren’t afraid of exploration, be it through the sometimes rough waters of friendship, the challenges of climate, or through artistic experimentation. The girls in Under the Skin hold their breath training for a synchronized swimming meet while navigating the twists and turns of competitive friendships. Father and daughter bond over their … Read More

Heebie Jeebies

75 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 10+

Slightly spooky shorts! Heebie Jeebies has been a Festival favorite at NYICFF for many a (full!) moon, but this year we’re thrilled to have inspired a short film named after us, or at least we’ll take the spooky credit for it! Find what all the frightful fun is about it when five girls realize the ghost stories they trade around … Read More

Becoming Ourselves: Breaking the Binary

60 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 10+

These films explore identity beyond gender binaries, as queer kids shape their own ideas of who they are, finding possibilities of joy and community along the way. Discover powerful connections to the past when long-hidden histories are revealed in the Oscar-shortlisted Kapaemahu. Or break through distance and discomfort in The Name of the Son to find unexpected closeness to family. … Read More

Celebrating Black Stories

75 min.

Shorts Recommended ages: 10+

Black stories rightfully take the spotlight at NYICFF, as we highlight films that share the joy, determination, resilience and complexity of Black youth in a range of genres and styles. The films in this program are featured throughout our shorts programs and here in this curated program, underscoring the vibrancy of Black storytelling and allowing audiences to consider these works … Read More