Let's Talk About Art: Animated films from around the world

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This is a biweekly series about art and artists in the region. Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts serves the community through arts education, exhibitions and artist resources.


Pixar they are not. But if you want to see the art of animation at work, be sure to catch these international animated films -- some classic, some new, some rare, all family friendly -- at this year's Three Rivers Film Festival. Now in its 32nd year, Pittsburgh's largest film festival runs Nov. 8-23.

The festival venues are Regent Square Theater, Edgewood; Harris Theater, Downtown; Melwood Screening Room, Oakland; and Waterworks Cinemas, Aspinwall. Information: www.3RFF.com.

▪ "Animated Film Program from the Congo"

Animation artist Jean Michel Kibushi's magical films are rarely screened in the United States. Each film is a mini-world unto itself, sprung forth from his brilliant imagination to celebrate the Congo's rich culture. Drawing from traditional Congolese folktales, he uses drawings, cutouts, models and claymation to summon a vision of the past and present. (With English subtitles; 70 min.) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 10, 6 p.m. Nov. 14; Harris Theater.

▪ "Grave of the Fireflies"

Rereleased for its 25th anniversary, this profound anti-war film, directed by Isao Takahata, is praised by critics around the world as a masterpiece. Set during the final months of World War II, it's the story of two orphaned Japanese siblings, teenager Seita and little sister Setsuko. The two set up housekeeping in a cave by a stream, but their meager resources are quickly exhausted. Suitable for older children. (In English; 90 min.) 2:30 p.m. Nov. 9, 8 p.m. Nov. 12; Regent Square Theater.

▪ "Moon Man"

In this whimsical tale the moon man is bored, so he hitches a ride to Earth on the tails of a passing comet and starts to explore the fantastical creatures and sights of a new planet. But his absence from his post means that all the world's children are unable to sleep. Based on Tomi Ungerer's famous picture book. (In English; 95 min.) 4:30 p.m. Nov. 14, Waterworks; 2 p.m. Nov. 16, Regent Square.

▪ "My Neighbor Totoro"

The late Roger Ebert called this enchanting classic "one of the five best movies ever made for children." The hand-drawn animation is a deceptively simple tale about our relationship with nature. Two girls who move to a new house discover in the surrounding forests "totoros" -- gentle but powerful creatures seen only by children. Directed by the great anime master, Hayao Miyazaki. (In English; 86 min.) 2 p.m. Nov. 9, Waterworks; 2 p.m. Nov. 10, Regent Square.

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