King kingdom

‘Lion King’ Director Visits for Las Cruces Film Festival

By Elva K. Austria

Rob Minkoff, director of Disney’s original “The Lion King,” has had a long and varied career in his field.

He started at the California Institute of the Arts in an animation program founded by Walt Disney and learned from Disney artists from the Golden Age of Animation, Minkoff said. At the end of his second year with the program, he was invited to intern at Disney.

Honored to work with one of “Disney’s Nine Old Men”, Eric Larson, he learned the Disney approach to animation. Then Minkoff was hired by the company and not only became an animator, but also worked as a story artist, co-wrote a song, and worked his way up to becoming a director.

While leaving Disney in 1995, Minkoff has since continued to produce many works in many titles.

Films he has worked on include ‘The Great Mouse Detective’, ‘The Brave Little Toaster’, ‘Oliver & Co’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, two Roger Rabbit shorts ‘Tummy Trouble’ and ‘Roller Coaster Rabbit’ , “The Haunted Manor”, “The Forbidden Kingdom”, “Mr. Peabody & Sherman” and the two films of Stuart Little.

“I don’t know what I love more,” he said. “It was exciting to be able to do so many different things, to work with so many different artists, to explore new avenues. I love doing new things that I’ve never done before – climbing new mountains.

On March 4, the Las Cruces International Film Festival honors Minkoff with its “Outstanding Achievement in Directing” award. Minkoff will be on hand with his wife, Crystal Minkoff, and will screen his box office hit, highest-grossing 2D animated film of all time “The Lion King” at the Allen Theaters Cineport at 7 p.m. He also hosts a question-and-answer session with the audience after the film. Earlier, at 3:30 p.m., he will speak at the Cinéport about his career.

Minkoff’s latest project, “Blazing Samuri,” which will be released later this year, is inspired by the classic Mel Brooks film “Blazing Saddles.”

“The thing about this new movie – it’s very different,” Minkoff said. “Our film is a mainstream comedy for everyone. It’s a story of tolerance, that of a dog who becomes a samurai in a world of cats.

The seventh Las Cruces International Film Festival will take place March 2-6 and will take place live and in person at the Allen Theaters Cineport. Tickets are available at