15 February 2024

MOVOP Animation Screenings & Exhibition


MOVOP is a collective of young animators under 30 who want to re-evaluate contemporary animation practices. The members of the collective include Fukumi NAKAZAWA (中澤ふくみ), Lina MACHIDA (まちだりな), Nana KAWABATA (川畑 那奈), Riku TAKAHASHI (高橋李空) / DOKUZEN, MARU AKARI, Hiroki KURASAWA (倉澤 紘己), and Aiko OKAMURA (岡村 あい子). 

 MOVOP is a neologism combing the English expressions ‘move up’ (上にあがる) and ‘move on’ (進む) and the Czech word ‘potok’ meaning brook or stream (小川). The letter ‘O’ between the letters M/V/P is also meant to evoke the gaps between frames that create the illusion of movement in animation.

The collective seems to be pushing back against the trend for animation to be completely online and digital. In their declaration, they talk about making things with their own hands and to create an archive of their works in physical form. They also want to create real spaces for young animators to engage in debate and discussions about animation practices with their peers.
In November, they published the inaugural edition of their e-zine on their website. I first heard about MOVOP because of physical postcards and flyers their distributed at the New Chitose Airport International Animation Festival in November. The first weekend of March, MOVOP will be holding their first screenings and exhibition at Digiti Minimi and co-hosted by Tampen

Program A 

 Kukkiri to Boyata / くっきりとぼやけた 
 dir. Lina MACHIDA / まちだリな, 5’23”, 2024 New work! 

dir. Riku TAKAHASHI / 高橋李空 / DOKUZEN, 2’58” 

 The Day It was an Excursion / えんそくだったひ 
 dir. Hiroki KURASAWA / 倉澤紘己, 5’49”, 2023 

 Deforming after Transforming (変形して奇形する) 
 dir. Fukumi NAKAZAWA / 中澤ふくみ , 8’47”, 2021 

dir. MARU AKARI, 1’, 2024 New work! 

 The Ship of Synapse 
Riku TAKAHASHI / 高橋李空 / DOKUZEN, 2’, 2023 

 Weather Map 
dir. Nana KAWABATA / 川畑那奈 ,9’09", 2021

Program B 

Mimimi and the Aliens (みみみとうちゅうじん) 
dir. Hiroki KURASAWA / 倉澤紘己, 5’55”, 2024 New work! 

dir. Riku TAKAHASHI /高橋李空 / DOKUZEN, 2’58” 

dir. MARU AKARI, 30”, 2020-2023 

 Carrots Don’t Wait (ニンジンは待ってくれない / Ninjin wa Matte kurenai) 
dir. Lina MACHIDA / まちだリな, 7’36”, 2023

 The Point of Permanence (永久点 / Towa-ten) 
dir. Nana KAWABATA / 川畑那奈, 10’04”, 2024 New work! 

 #_ hashtag underber 
dir. MARU AKARI, 6’, 2022 


Aiko OKAMURA (岡村あい子) 
Yume-utsutsu 『夢現』 
Jiga『自我』 New work! 

Fukumi NAKAZAWA (中澤ふくみ) 
Kandokoro wo Zurasu『勘どころをずらす』 New work! 
New work! Tadaka ga Yonde iru『ただかが呼んでいる』 

On the Saturday at 14:00 there will be a Guest Talk Event with Yū ISEKI (井関悠), the curator of the Contemporary Art Center, Art Tower Mito, artist Hirotoshi IWASAKI (岩崎博俊), and dancer / choreographer Nobunashi KON (のばなしコン). On Sunday at 14:00 there will be a Talk Event with member of MOVOP.

Tickets are available via the Peatix app: 
 For more information visit the MOVOP website / social media: https://movopanimation5.wordpress.com/ 

Cathy Munroe Hotes

08 January 2024

NIAFF 2023 Archive/アーカイブ: Dwarf Studios’ Talk /「ドワーフ」トーク


In addition to its feature film competition, the Niigata International Animation Film Festival (NIAFF) also shines a spotlight on the latest trends in the animation industry. One exciting development in the past two years has been the production journey of the innovative stop motion animation Hidari (2023), which has taken social media by storm. One of the stop motion studios involved in its production, Dwarf (Domo-kun, Komaneko, Pokemon Concierge), was also celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2023. 

At the centre of the Hidari project is director Masashi KAWAMURA (川村真司) of Whatever Co, an ambitious entrepreneur who grew up watching the words of creators Ray Harryhausen, Kihachirō Kawamoto, and Phil Tippett. He had a dream of creating a feature length stop motion samurai epic, so he partnered with Dwarf and Tecarat (Gon, the Little Fox, Pukkulapottas and Hours in the Forest) to take his creative vision to the next level. The stop motion is done at Dwarf and Takeshi YASHIRO (八代健志) of Tecarat designs and carves the wooden puppets.

They completed a short film as a pilot for the feature film project and this screening at NIAFF helped them get the word out about their crowdfunding campaign to get the funds to make the dream of a full feature length tale a reality. Check out the official YouTube channel to set how they made it. The pilot has gone on to win awards at festivals around the world.


The story is the legend of Jingorō Hidari (左 甚五郎), the Japanese equivalent of a Renaissance man who was a sculpture, carpenter, painter, architect, storyteller, and artist. As he name, “Hidari” (left) indicates, he was lefthanded and had a missing right arm. There are many tales as to how he lost his right arm, often involving jealous rivals. Yashiro’s puppet of Hidari has a giant, wonderfully intricate left hand that the animators use in many creative ways for fight scenes. 

The Talk Event at NIAFF 2023 featured Kawamura, Yashiro, and the acclaimed Dwarf Studios director Tsuneo GŌDA (合田 経郎) and producer Noriko MATSUMOTO (松本紀子). They also brought the puppet of Hidari for audiences to see the amazing detail that went into its design. The NIAFF archive clip starts with a slideshow of the Hidari event, then shows excerpts from the Dwarf Studios discussion about the magic of the technique of stop motion (komadori in Japanese) with two of the studios most well known original characters, Domo-kun and Komaneko on the display table. If you do not understand Japanese, please use the captions auto-translate function on YouTube for the language of your preference.


In the run up to the second instalment of NIAFF in March 2024, the festival is sharing highlights of last March’s festival every Tuesday on its YouTube Channel. Subscribe to see more. 

 2024 Cathy Munroe Hotes

NIAFF 2023 Archive/アーカイブ: Director Rintaro's Talk / りんたろう監督トーク


Renowned animator Rintarō (りんたろう, b. 1942) premiered his latest animation at the debut Niigata Animation Film Festival (NIAFF) in March 2023. It seems fitting that he should have been a guest at the first NIAFF, because he started off his career as an in-betweener on the first colour anime feature length film The White Snake Enchantress (白蛇伝/Hakujaden, 1958), also known in English as Legend of the White Serpent.

One of the reasons that Niigata was chosen as a location to host an animation festival for feature length films is that Niigata is the birthplace of two animation pioneers who worked on Hakujaden: Hiroshi ŌKAWA (大川博, 1896-1971) and Kōji FUKIYA (蕗谷虹児, 1898-1979). Ōkawa (sometimes transliterated as OHKAWA), who has been called “The Man Who Aimed to Become Disney” by historian Nobuyuki TSUGATA, was the producer of Hakujaden and Fukiya contributed to the early technology used at Tōei Animation during the making of Hakujaden. In honour of their achievements, NIAFF awards the OHKAWA/FUKIYA PRIZE for technical contributions to animation.

Rintarō calls his work a manga eiga – an earlier term for animation – literally “cartoon film” and it takes its inspiration from early Japanese cinema and animation history.  Manga Cinema dedicated to Sadao Yamanaka: Nezumikozo Jirokichi (山中貞雄に捧げる漫画映画『鼠小僧次郎吉』, 2023)  is an adaption of the story of the legendary Edo period thief and folk hero, sometimes called Jirokichi the Rat in English. It is based on the script of  Nezumikozō Jirokichi Zenpen: Edo no maki (鼠小僧次郎吉 前篇 江戸の巻, 1933), the first of a trilogy of films written and directed by Sado YAMANAKA (山中 貞雄, 1909-1938). Yamanaka was a pioneering film director whose brilliant career was cut short when he was drafted into the army and died in Manchuria. All but 3 of his early films, including this trilogy were lost, and with this work Rintarō and his team, including character designer Katsuhiro ŌTOMO (大友克洋) and composer Toshiyuki HONDA (本多俊之), sought to pay homage both to Yamanaka and to the art of silent cinema. In this clip from the NIAFF 2023 Video Archives, Rintarō talks to animation expert Ryūsuke HIKAWA (氷川竜介) about why he decided to do this project. Some of the highlights of the discussion are how much animation has changed so much since Rintarō first started in the industry, how young people today don’t know a lot about silent cinema – a medium that Alfred Hitchcock called the purest form of cinema, and his collaboration with Toshiyuki HONDA on the music for the film. Please use the captions auto-translate function for the language of your preference.

In the run up to the second instalment of NIAFF in March 2024, the festival is sharing highlights of last year’s festival every Tuesday on its YouTube Channel. Subscribe to see more. Nezumikozo Jirokichi is distributed internationally by MIYU.
2024 Cathy Munroe Hotes