ZARAFA
2012, Gkids, 78 min, France, Dir: Remi Bezancon & Jean-Christophe Lie

An Annie Award nominee for Best Directing in an Animated Feature! As this delightful animated family adventure opens, an old man holds children spellbound with a story about a boy and a giraffe. The boy is Maki, a 10-year-old who has escaped from slave traders, and the giraffe – recently orphaned and chosen by the Pasha of Egypt to be a gift to the King of France – is named Zarafa. Drawn together by the destinies others have chosen for them, Maki and Zarafa journey from the Sudan to Paris, meeting aviators, pirates and strange twin cows along the way. "Closing in on 1.5 million admissions in France, ZARAFA is living proof that 3D and computer-generated animation aren't necessary as long as the story is solid and overall animation quality high" – Variety. In French with English subtitles.


THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS
1993, Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, 76 min, USA, Dir: Henry Selick

Two holidays collide as Jack Skellington, the leader of Halloween Town, discovers Christmas Town and decides he’d like to play Santa for a change - but with ghosts, ghouls and goblins helping him, Christmas turns more scary than merry. Tim Burton co-produced and wrote the story (based on characters he’d dreamed up while a Disney animator a decade earlier), and his charmingly creepy sensibility oozes from every frame of this wildly imaginative stop-motion fantasy. Featuring the voice talents of Chris Sarandon, Danny Elfman and Catherine O’Hara.


WOLF CHILDREN
OKAMI KODOMO NO AME TO YUKI
2012, Nippon Televsion, 117 min, Japan, Dir: Mamoru Hosoda

Hana notices a mysterious older man auditing one of her classes, and before long, the two begin dating. When she falls in love with him, he confesses that he is a descendant of an ancient tribe of wolfmen, who have the ability to alternate between human and wolf form. Hana does not bat an eye, and the two begin a lengthy romance that produces daughter Yuki and son Ame, who also exhibit furry tendencies. A tragedy leaves Hana alone to care, as best she can, for her two kids who behave more like pets than people. As young Yuki and Ame grow older, they must grapple with what they want to be: civilized human beings or the wild animals within. WOLF CHILDREN is the latest film from Hosoda (GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME, SUMMER WARS), a protégé of the historic Toei Animation and the Hayao Miyazaki-led Studio Ghibli; many are calling him Japan’s next great animation master. But while WOLF CHILDREN exhibits amazing attention to detail and movement in its animation, it is no mere imitation of previous masters, as it displays a wry sense of humor, a mature view of romance and a deeply moving portrayal of siblings who transform - literally and figuratively - before our very eyes. In Japanese with English subtitles. Recommended ages: 9 and up.


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