BURBANK, Calif., Nov. 28, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The International Animated Film Society, ASIFA-Hollywood, announced nominations today for its 44th Annual Annie Awards™ recognizing the year's best in the field of animation. For a complete list of nominations, please visit www.annieawards.org. This year's Best Animated Feature nominations include: Finding Dory (Pixar Animation Studios ), Kubo and the Two Strings (Laika), Kung Fu Panda 3 (DreamWorks Animation ),Moana (Walt Disney Animation Studios) and Zootopia (Walt Disney Animation Studios) . Nominees in the Annies™ newest category, Best Feature-Independent, spotlighting features with a much smaller distribution footprint than major studio releases, include: Long Way North(Sacrebleu Productions, Maybe Movies, Norlum Studios, France 3 Cinéma and 2 Minutes), Miss Hokusai (Production I.G.), My Life As A Zucchini (Rita Productions, Blue Spirit Productions, Gebeka Films, KNM), The Red Turtle (Studio Ghibli, Wild Bunch, Why Not Productions) and Your Name (CoMix Wave Films). "Once again, this year has seen another increase in Annie submissions, and a continuing and broadening interest from not only the animation community, but also the film industry in general, " said ASIFA's executive director, Frank Gladstone. "We are ever mindful that the Annie Awards have become an early and welcomed addition into the 'Award Season' mainstream." The Annie Awards cover 36 categories and include Best Animated Feature, Best Animated Feature-Independent, Special Productions, Commercials, Short Subjects, Student Films and Outstanding Individual Achievements, as well as the honorary Juried Awards. The winners will be announced at a black tie ceremony on Saturday, February 4, 2017 at UCLA's Royce Hall. A pre-reception and press line begins at 5:00 pm with the awards ceremony following at 7:00 pm. A post-show celebration immediately follows the ceremony. All events will be held at Royce Hall. "It has turned out to be an especially successful year for animation on movie screens, on broadcast and cable TV, for new streaming networks, in games and VR," said ASIFA-Hollywood President, Jerry Beck. "I really believe we are in a new 'golden age', as outstanding examples of the art form - whether hand drawn, CG, stop motion or mo-cap - are represented by this years Annie nominees." The Juried Awards honoring career achievement and exceptional contributions to animation will also be presented. Three Winsor McCay recipients have been selected by the ASIFA-Hollywood Board of Directors - legendary animator Dale Baer; independent animation champion Caroline Leaf; and influential anime director Mamoru Oshii, for their career contributions to the art form; the Ub Iwerks Award will go to Google Spotlight's Virtual Reality Platform for technical advancement; Life, Animated,a documentary about animation's effect on one young autistic man's journey will receive this year's Special Achievement Award; and the June Foray Award will be given to Bill & Sue Kroyerfor their career-long benevolent, public-spirited influence within the animation community. Certificate of Merit awards will be presented to Leslie Ezeh, ASIFA-Hollywood volunteer coordinator and Gary Perkovac, ASIFA-Hollywood's office manager. ASIFA-Hollywood is the world's first and foremost professional organization dedicated to promoting the Art of Animation and celebrating the people who create it. Today, ASIFA-Hollywood, the largest chapter of the international organization ASIFA, supports a range of animation activities and preservation efforts through its membership. Current initiatives include the Animation Archive, Animation Aid Foundation, animated film preservation, special events, classes and screenings.