Juries & Awards



Nora Twomey

Nora Twomey

Comment from Ms. Nora Twomey

Hello. My name is Nora Twomey. I’m from Cartoon Saroon animation studio is in Irland, we’ve made films “My father’s Dragon”,” WolfWalkers”, “The Breadwinner”, “The Song of the Sea”, “The Secret of Kells”.
I’m really delighted to tell you that I will be visiting to Japan for the first time in March 2024. I am going to be president of the jury for Niigata International Animation film festival, a festival of feature length animated films and I’m really really looking for to be seeing old friends, making new friends and visiting the beautiful city Niigata so I hope to see you there.
Thank you.

Nora’s passion for visual storytelling began at an early age and has led her to explore the medium of animation with her collaborators in Cartoon Saloon in Kilkenny, Ireland. From the studio’s early years, directing award winning short films & commercials, she went on to co-direct Tomm Moore’s ACADEMY AWARD® nominated The Secret of Kells while also guiding the development processes on a number of series including the preschool show Puffin Rock. Nora was Head of Story and Voice Director on ACADEMY AWARD®
nominated Song of the Sea. She directed The Breadwinner, which was nominated for an ACADEMY AWARD® & GOLDEN GLOBE and won several international awards including the Best Indie Feature Annie and the Audience & Jury Awards at Annecy. Nora most recently directed My Father’s Dragon feature film, a Netflix original animated feature, inspired by the Newbery Award winning children's book by Ruth Stiles Gannett. She continues to collaborate with her creative partners Tomm Moore and Paul Young as a Director, Producer, Editor, Writer, Production Artist, Voice Director, depending on the needs of each production.

Michael Fukushima

Michael Fukushima

Comment from Mr. Michael Fukushima

Hello Niigata International Animation Film Festival.
I’m Michael Fukushima and I’m speaking to you from the eastern townships of southern Quebec.
I am delighted and honored to have been invited to jury for the festival in March and really looking forward to visiting your region interested city and seeing the wonderful sites and activities available, but more importantly I am really looking forward to being on the jury and watching some of what have been amazing animated feature films released these past two years. It's a great time to be producing animated feature films in the world and I'm hoping to be seeing several of them next March. I will see you soon bye-bye.

Since 1985, Michael Fukushima has been an animator, filmmaker, and from 1997 to 2021 was a producer and head of NFB Animation. He’s worked on 200-plus films, is a member of AMPAS®, and produced three Oscar-nominated animation shorts. Though mostly retired, he remains OCADU’s Experimental Animation Executive Producer-in-Residence.

Yuichiro Saito

Yuichiro Saito

Comment from Mr. Yuichiro Saito

My name is Yuichiro Saito, CEO and Producer of Studio Chizu.
Over the past 20 years, I produced six animated feature films with director Mamoru Hosoda, including "Wolf Children," "BELLE," and the Oscar-nominated "MIRAI."
I have so much respect and love for animation. The medium is what will guide and affirm the future for people and children around the world.
That is why I am honored to partake in the Niigata International Animation Film Festival as a member of the jury, alongside esteemed directors Nora Twomey and Michael Fukushima.

International film festivals are where audiences have the chance to meet beautiful films and so many filmmakers from many diverse backgrounds. I am constantly reminded why we are so fascinated with animation and why this art form is exciting, beautiful, and worth all the time and energy we invest.

I hope to share these thoughts with many of you here in Niigata.
Thank you very much for this opportunity.

Kind regards,

Born in 1976. After studying in the U.S., he joined MADHOUSE and produced two films of Mamoru Hosoda, "The Girl Who Leapt Through Time" (2006) and "Summer Wars" (2009).
In 2011, he established Studio CHIZU with Mamoru Hosoda. Since then, he has exclusively produced works of Hosoda, including "Wolf Children" (2012), “MIRAI” (2018), and “BELLE” (2021). “MIRAI” was nominated for Best Animated Feature at the 91st Academy Awards.
He is a member of The Producers Guild of America (PGA) and The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).