Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ottawa Animation Festival Part 4

And so it ends, today was the last day of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and the closing party is presumably going on as I type this. However, I've got school in the morning and while it was a great week, it's time to get back to work.

I only ended up going to four screenings instead of five, since the last was just going to be the Best of the Fest, and honestly with the way the buses are on Sundays at this end of town it was better to come back early. So here's what I actually did see:

Short Competition 3 Unfortunately, my day started off with a disappointment in the form of All The Time, a blurry, smudgy mess to the tune of the Tom Waits song by the same name. Now I recognize that it was the hard work of a high school student, but when I can't even see what's going on most of the time, I wouldn't consider it a success, and messing with one of my favourite artists just isn't on. Fortunately this was followed up with the much more interesting (and comprehensible) video for U2's I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight. The other letdown for this screening was the sophomoric and just plain stupid Mak the Horny Mac Daddy. Seriously, this wasn't even a funny gag, how did it get into the festival list? Most of this screening was pretty laclustre really, although if I were to pick a best of the bunch it'd be Please Say Something, about the relationship between an abusive mouse and emotional cat, with occasional rewriting of history along the way. Other decent showings were The Bellows March, Son of Dino-Orange and Shot in the Dark. I dunno. On reflection, there actually were good pieces, but maybe the presence of the two disappointments brought my mood down for the showing.

Short Competition 4 This was a very good competition, from the adorable Did U See that!? and Inukshuk to the mysterious drama of The Drawer and the Crow and the stylish Lebensader. Also worth noting was the presence of Pete Candleland's wonderful Monkey King goes to the Olympics promotion for BBC. Altogether a lovely experience.

Short Competition 5 This was by far the most heavily attended screening I went to all week, which made me a bit nervous since it was the one must-see of the whole festival for me. And why was I so desperate? Was it for the new Wallace and Grommit short? No way! It was for the premiere for Cordell Barker's newest film, Runaway, of course! I've loved Barker and the other Winnipeg studio crew for ages, so this was an incredible treat and totally worth the wait. Hopefully the NFB will have it up on the site once it's finished the film festival rounds and I can see it couple more times. Loads of fun. Oh, and the Wallace and Grommit short was also good. Aside from that, there was a really interesting surreal piece named Kitchen Dimensions, which was really well put together, but I thought it went a bit overlong. After two long surreal sequences, I wasn't really in the mood for a third after that, but what are you gonna do? Also worthy of note in the sheer hard work category was Postalolio, which was entirely animated using postcards which had been sent through the mail back to the studio. Great animation, great concept, and a whole lotta postage.

Canadian Film Showcase This was the last screening I attended, and what a lovely way to wrap up the festival. These films were excellent, from beginning to end, and went a long way to showing why Canada is unquestionably on the map in international animation. I'll let the films speak for themselves: The Vegetation of Zig 5, The Spine, Hazed and The Man Who Slept. There were others I couldn't find video links for, such as Peggy Baker: Four Phrases from the NFB, and Nanu and Animal from Sheridan, but those are enough to give you a good idea of the level of quality.

All told, this year's festival was a fantastic experience. Next year of course my focus will be less on watching the films, and more on making contacts, networking, learning more of the business side of things and trying to attend workshops, so I'll be seeing less new animation. But as a first year student, I still have the luxury of relaxing a bit and just soaking in the creativity.

As a side note, the winners of this year's festival have been announced! And among them, a good number of films I've seen and liked. Good show!

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