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Fifth International Animation Festival Begins Tonight at the Embarcadero

Hayao Miyazaki protégé Sunao Katabuchi's Mai Mai Miracle, a fantastical tale of two adventure-seeking teenage girls, plays Saturday afternoon at the International Animation Festival.

Sponsored by the San Francisco Film Society, the city's fifth International Animation Festival, a four-day celebration of innovative artistry and visionary storytelling, opens tonight at the Embarcadero Center Cinema.

This year's selections include the Decemberists-inspired Here Come the Waves: The Hazards of Love Visualized; animated music videos featuring the music of Rage Against the Machine, Paul Oakenfold and Gorillaz; and brothers Edward and Rory McHenry's Jackboots on Whitehall, in which puppets, voiced by the likes of Ewan McGregor and Tom Wilkinson, reveal what might have transpired if the Third Reich had occupied Buckingham Palace during World War II.

"[The festival] explores the many forms of animation as both an artistic practice and a mode of production," says programmer Sean Uyehara. "Each year it's exciting to discover and present a range of work from established artists such as anime director Sunao Katabuchi and this year's Golden Gate Persistence of Vision Award recipient Don Hertzfeldt to works by emerging talents such as Brent Green and Skye Thorstensen to the unique work of the innovative duo Semiconductor."

An opening-night party featuring Peruvian hors d’oeuvres and picturesque waterfront views will be held tonight from 9 to 11 p.m. at La Mar Cebichería Peruana on Pier 1½. Drinks will be provided by Birra Moretti and José Pastor Wine Selections. For tickets and movie showtimes, click here.