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Short Peace is the name of Akira director Katsuhiro Otomo’s new omnibus feature comprised of four different shorts. It appears that Otomo’s Combustible, which qualified for Oscar consideration last year as a stand-alone short, will be part of the package.

Halcyon Realms points out the other directors who are involved in the project:

The four directors are Otomo himself, Morita Shuhei (Kakurenbo, Freedom Project), Hiroaki Ando (co-director of Tekkon Kinkreet) and Hajime Katoki (mecha designer for Gundam, Super Robot Wars, Virtua On, Patlabor and tons of other stuff.) Koji Morimoto has also been credited on the official page as the director of the film’s opening sequence.

The film’s website states that the film will premiere in Japan on July 20, 2013.

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This Friday, November 9th, New Yorkers can see the East Coast premiere of Kevin Schreck’s new documentary Persistence of Vision, about Richard William’s never-completed-as-envisioned The Thief and the Cobbler. Williams worked on the film from the mid-1960s through the early-1990s before it was taken away from him and finished by producer Fred Calvert.

I’m looking forward to seeing Schreck’s film, which includes interviews with many people who worked on the film, though not Williams who declined to participate. And if the film is playing at a festival near you, see it! The documentary likely won’t be released on home video anytime soon because Schreck didn’t obtain permission from the copyright holders whose animation appears in the film. Sadly, Schreck’s approach is just about the only way nowadays to create animation history projects since the handful of conglomerates that own the film libraries don’t understand the value of cooperating with historians and researchers to present an accurate historical and critical portrait of the animation they own.

The film screens on Friday at 9:15pm at the SVA Theater (333 W. 23rd Street, NY, NY). The director will do a Q&A after the film. Tickets cannot be purchased at the theater. They must be purchased in advance, either at the IFC Center or online HERE. There’s also a Facebook page for the film where you can bug the filmmakers to bring a screening to your city.

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Let’s ring in the new year with a look ahead at the animated features of 2012. The animated feature glass was half-full last year. Whereas in 2010, five of the top ten highest-grossing features in the US were animated, last year only one animated film ranked in the US top 10—Cars 2. Around the world, however, animation fared better in 2011, earning 3 of the top 10 spots at the global box office (and if you count The Smurfs, four of the top ten).

Our 2011 list focuses primarily on films set for release in the United States, but we’ve also rounded it out with a few foreign films. Of course, we’ll be covering dozens of other foreign and indie feature productions throughout the year, but even with the films below, 2012 is already looking like a decent year. If you know of other must-see animated films this year, please let us know in the comments.

LIST OF 2012 FEATURES BY SCHEDULED RELEASE DATE

The Secret World of Arriety
The Clock family are four-inch-tall people who live anonymously in another family’s residence, borrowing simple items to make their home. Life changes for the Clocks when their daughter, Arrietty, is discovered.

Release Date: 2/17
Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi
Production Company: Studio Ghibli
Distributor: Walt Disney
Technique: hand-drawn
Voice Cast: Bridgit Mendler, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett
Film Website

Plenty more films after the jump

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
A 12-year-old boy searches for the one thing that will enable him to win the affection of the girl of his dreams. To find it he must discover the story of the Lorax, the grumpy yet charming creature who fights to protect his world.

Release Date: 3/2
Directors: Chris Renaud, Kyle Balda
Production Company: Illumination
Distributor: Universal
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Zac Efron, Taylor Swift, Danny DeVito
Film Website

The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz for the Pirate of the year Award. The quest takes Captain and his crew from the shores of Blood Island to the foggy streets of Victorian London.

Release Date: 3/30
Directors: Peter Lord, Jeff Newitt
Production Company: Aardman Animation
Label: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: clay stop-mo
Voice Cast: Hugh Grant, Salma Hayek, Jeremy Piven
Film Website

Le Magasin des Suicides (The Suicide Shop)
Based on a bestselling book by Jean Teulé, it’s a black comedy about a family that runs a suicide supply shop in a dreary town. The family’s business is threatened when a new baby arrives who makes everyone around him happy.

Release Date: 5/16 (France/Belgium), 6/14 (Netherlands)
Directors: Patrice LeConte
Production Company: Diabolo Films (France), La Petite Reine, Entre Chien et Loup (Belgique) and Caramel Films (Canada)
Distributor: ARP Sélection
Technique: hand-drawn, cut-out

Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Gloria the Hippo join a traveling circus in an effort to get back home to New York.

Release Date: 6/8
Director: Eric Darnell
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ben Stiller, David Schwimmer, Chris Rock, Sascha Baron Cohen
Film Website

Brave
Determined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Release Date: 6/22
Directors: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Production Company: Pixar
Studio: Pixar
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson
Film Website

Ice Age: Continental Drift
Manny, Diego, and Sid embark upon another adventure after their continent is set adrift. Using an iceberg as a ship, they encounter sea creatures and battle pirates as they explore a new world.

Release Date: 7/13
Directors: Steve Martino, Mike Thurmeier
Production Company:
Studio: Blue Sky
Distributor: 20th Century-Fox
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ray Romano, Denis Leary, John Leguizamo
Film Website

The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Okami kodomo no ame to yuki (The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki)
From the director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars, the story of a college student named Hana who marries a “wolf man” and gives birth to two wolf children. When the wolf man dies, Hana and the children move from the city to a quiet rural town.

Release Date: July (Japan)
Directors: Mamoru Hosoda
Production Company: Studio Chizu, Madhouse
Distributor: TOHO
Technique: Hand-drawn
Film Website

ParaNorman
A misunderstood boy who can speak with the dead, takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Release Date: 8/17
Directors: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Production Company: Laika
Distributor: Focus Features
Technique: Stop-Motion
Voice Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Film Website

Hotel Transylvania
Dracula, who operates a high-end resort away from the human world, goes into overprotective mode when a boy discovers the resort and falls for the count’s teen-aged daughter.

Release Date: 9/21
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Production Company: Sony Animation
Distributor: Columbia
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg
Film Website

Frankenweenie
Young Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Release Date: 10/5
Director: Tim Burton
Production Company: Walt Disney
Distributor: Disney
Technique: stop-motion
Voice Cast: Winona Ryder, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Short
Film Website

Wreck-It Ralph
The bad-guy character in a classic game who longs to be a hero brings trouble to his entire arcade after sneaking into a new first-person shooter game and unleashing a deadly enemy.

Release Date: 11/2
Director: Rich Moore
Production Company: Walt Disney Feature Animation
Distributor: Disney
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch

Rise of the Guardians
Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Jack Frost and the Sandman band together to form a united front against the Bogeyman.

Release Date: 11/21
Director: Peter Ramsey, William Joyce
Production Company: Dreamworks
Distributor: Paramount
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Hugh Jackman, Alec Baldwin, Isla Fisher
Film Website

These six films have no release date set yet, but will be ready for release in 2012

Dorothy of Oz
Back in Kansas, Dorothy Gale decides to return to Oz in order to help her friends.

Director: Will Finn, Dan St. Pierre
Production Company: Summertime Entertainment
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Lea Michele, Patrick Stewart, Hugh Dancy
Film Website

Escape from Planet Earth
Astronaut Scorch Supernova finds himself caught in a trap when he responds to an SOS from a notoriously dangerous alien planet.

Director: Callan Brunker
Production Company: Blue Yonder Films
Distributor: Weinstein Company
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Jessica Alba, Sarah Jessica Parker, Brendan Fraser
Film Website

Norm of the North
Displaced from their Arctic home, a polar bear named Norm and his three lemming friends wind up in New York City, where Norm becomes the mascot of a corporation he soon learns is tied to the fate of his homeland.

Director: Anthony Bell
Production Company: RichCrest Animation
Distributor: Lionsgate
Technique: CG
Voice Cast: Ken Jeong, Rob Schneider, Zachary Gordon
Film Press Release

Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie
Cheech & Chong’s Animated Movie is a film based on Cheech and Chong’s classic Grammy award winning albums.

Director: Branden Chambers, Eric D. Chambers
Technique: Flash
Voice Cast: Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong
Official Facebook Page

Ribbit

Ribbit
“The tale of a frog with an identity crisis..”

Director: Chuck Powers
Technique: CGI
Voice Cast: Sean Astin, Tim Curry
Production company: KRU Studios (Malaysia)
Official Facebook page

A Liar's Autobiography

A Liar’s Autobiography
Based on the memoirs of deceased Monty Python member Graham Chapman. Fifteen different UK animation companies will be contributing animated segments to the film. The film will receive a theatrical release in the UK in Spring 2012, and shown on the EPIX HD channel in the US.

Director: Bill Jones, Ben Timlett, Jeff Simpson
Production Company: Bill and Ben Productions
Voice Cast: Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam
Film Website

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Two animated features opened quietly in Los Angeles this weekend. Both are well worth seeing in a theater and deserve our support. Both are hand drawn films – one from France, one from Japan – both offering a diversity of style, storytelling and substance not seen in the standard American studio product.

A Cat In Paris opened its Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles this weekend at the AMC Burbank Town Center 8 (201 E Magnolia Blvd., Burbank, CA), with shows daily at 4pm and 7:30pm. The film made its international premiere at 2011 Berlinale and has been nominated for a European Film Award in the Best Animated Feature category. It has garnered raves on the US and international festival circuit including appearances at San Francisco Int’l Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, London International Film Festival, and Annecy International Animated Film Festival.

Redline opened in limited release in Los Angeles this weekend at the Downtown Independent (The film opens in NYC on January 6th before hitting blu-ray & dvd on January 17). The screenings will alternate between dubbed English and original Japanese (with sub-titles). It’s one of the best anime features I’ve seen in a while – wildly imaginative and occasionally surreal – Speed Racer on acid would sum it up quite nicely. Advance tickets can be purchased here.

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This new animated feature from South Korea, The King Of Pigs, tackles adult themes and examines on the social impact of high school bullying. The film opened earlier this month in Korea; director Yeun Sang-ho discusses his inspirations with The Korea Herald.

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If the Mexican Top Cat feature isn’t your cup of tea, here’s the slick trailer for Ana, a 3-D CG feature directed by Carlos Carrera currently being produced in Mexico. The production company Lo Coloco Films has a placeholder website for now. A Hollywood Reporter piece from three years ago suggested the film’s budget was only $3.2 million which I find kind of hard to believe. But even if it that number doubles or triples, it’s still a bargain compared to American and European animated features.

There’s not much to go by in this trailer, but Carrera has a strong track record as a director. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 2002 live-action film El crimen del Padre Amaro, and earlier he made animated shorts, like El héroe (below) which won the Palme d’Or at Cannes.

UPDATE: A five-minute clip from Ana was posted today on the film’s Facebook page. The release date on Facebook is listed as May, 2013.

(Thanks, Elisa H. García)

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Angel Vitamina is a personal project of animator Diego De Rose and a small team of independent animators in Argentina. This is the second time I’ve posted about this film’s progress (I posted an shorter teaser trailer here in 2009). De Rose has just debut a second, longer trailer – now five minutes, though the first two minutes is a talky set up – and has expanded his website and production blog. I wish them luck in getting this film finished!

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Nick Cross is one of the most exciting independent talents working today. He’s currently hard at work on his most ambitious project yet – a feature length film called Black Sunrise. Nick’s just completed a trailer for it (below) and is writing a companion book documenting the film’s production. I’m particularly excited about this film, and the footage looks incredible. For more information on this epic project-in-progress, I refer you to the Nick Cross Animation blog. Go Nick!

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