A-Z Feature Films 2023

Against his will, 10-year-old Sebastian is dropped off to spend his summer holiday in the mountains with his free-spirited aunt and withdrawn grandmother. Tasked with tending a flock of sheep while wolves circle, this city boy has a lot to learn if he’s ever going to live up to the legend of his late grandfather. Enter Belle, a huge mountain dog, presumed to be unhinged and untamable. Sebastian witnesses Belle being abused by her owner, and resolves to set her free.

Teen misfits Roma, Toto, and Drop call themselves the “Don Glees,” an informal name for their backyard adventures. One day, the trio fear they may be blamed for a nearby forest fire, and set off into the woods to prove their innocence. Following up her critically acclaimed series A Place Further Than the Universe, director Atsuko Ishizuka delivers her first original feature film, and what a remarkable anime it is! With luminescent hand-drawn work and lush backdrops, Goodbye, Don Glees! is a tender coming-of-age story about the fearlessness of being young and the bittersweet journey of self-discovery.

Twelve-year-old Justine firmly believes that she will be happier once her parents divorce. Drained by the shouting and bickering that pervades their home, Justine rallies a group of her friends to hatch a plan that will convince her lawyer parents to reconsider their marriage. The kids gather research and evidence to create a publicly staged examination of the facts. A playful and at times serious look at the dynamics and importance of compassionate familial communication.

Thirteen years after Yang Jian (known to some as Erlang Shen) imprisoned his sister beneath a mountain, the once powerful god now scrapes by as a penniless bounty hunter. As Yang Jian confronts his past, he must face a host of dangerous vigilantes seeking the same treasure with the power to alter the balance of their worlds. This latest entry in the New Gods universe from Light Chaser Animation (White Snake, New Gods: Nezha Reborn) features awe-inspiring action sequences set against breathtaking and wildly imaginative environments. Combining ancient lore with dazzling animation, New Gods: Yang Jian is a timeless adventure of epic proportions featuring one of China’s legendary mythic figures.

The year is 2144 and as far the eye can see, the land has frozen over. Sumi, a young human child with a supernatural connection to the stars, has survived this harsh landscape by the paternal care of a polar bear, affectionately known as Mama. An epic dystopia of survival, Polaris is an entirely original and spectacular world, spun from the mind of Yukon’s KC Carthew (The Sun at Midnight R2R ‘17, Opener).

Inspired by stories that writer/director/producer Jerry Thevenet’s grandmother told him as a young boy, a courageous young Inuit girl, Sedna, is kidnapped by a duplicitous raven and held captive on a dark and secluded island. Escaping on kayak, Sedna falls into the frigid arctic waters and magically transforms into a mermaid-like goddess– the Empress of the Sea. This special animation is a light-hearted, action-adventure musical that uses comedy, metaphors and allegory to introduce young people to the concept of residential schools and their impact on Indigenous children and families.

Named Niklas at birth, 8-year old Nina will no longer hide who she really is. Today Nina has decided to wear a dress to school, regardless of what her parents, brother, or classmates think – she has always felt like a girl and now she’s ready to live as one. Traversing the stages of loss, denial, bargaining, anger, and acceptance, throughout Nina’s unflinching pursuit of self-actualization, Simply Nina centers love and tells the story of a nuanced family that sticks together when it’s needed most.

Shafa is not like most girls her age, she saves animals, defends smaller kids, and races motorcycles against the boys–refusing to abide by the cultural expectations thrust upon her. In Iran, on the Island of Singo, there is a strict hierarchy between men and women, and many unfair rules and standards. Shafa must defend what’s right, facing off against the richest man in town, Barat Khan.

In media studies, “Star Wars Kid” is widely considered the first instance of a globally viral internet meme. Montreal’s Ghyslain Raza speaks out for the first time after a lifetime of unwanted attention– His student video was posted and shared by millions, without his consent. The film depicts more than just a cautionary tale, Mathieu Fournier’s documentary offers a historical glimpse at the evolution of media, social networks, consumer behaviour, and the law. For everyone from young media makers to passive TikTok viewers, this vital discussion is illuminated with exceptional nuance for audiences young and old.

Ten years after Tohoku, Japan’s Great East Earthquake, in which many people lost their lives and homes, director Shinya Kawatsura adapted a story from a Sachiko Kashiwaba novel that pays tribute to the area and its people. Seventeen-year-old Yui is consumed by anger, and eight-year-old Hiyori has not spoken since being separated from her family. Both girls find themselves in a temporary shelter confronted by an unassuming elderly woman who has suspiciously taken an interest in their plight. A heart-warming story of new beginnings, personal growth, and childhood wonder. Anime fans, this one's for you!


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