Skip To Content
Photo: Petr Maur/OIAF

A guide to the Ottawa International Animation Festival—09.25.19 to 09.29.19

By Barbara Popel on September 19, 2019

Ottawa is so fortunate! Since 1976, the city has hosted the Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), one of the largest, most prestigious animation festivals in the world. From September 25 to 29, the OIAF will be the stage where you can enjoy the world’s most cutting-edge, thoughtful, funny and provocative animation films.

It’s also a great opportunity to mingle with many of the animation industry’s most celebrated international stars and a lot of funky film folk. The filmmakers are often in attendance at the screenings. Many of the screenings are world or North American premieres. The screenings are all in downtown Ottawa, many of them at the ByTowne Cinema where there’s delicious buttered popcorn and coffee—a plus over the other venues.

From September 25 to 29, the OIAF will be the stage where you can enjoy the world’s most cutting-edge, thoughtful, funny and provocative animation films.

There are over 80 films being shown at the OIAF this year. They were selected from 2,424 submissions. That is not a typo. Imagine viewing 2,424 films to select the best ones for this festival! There are seven films in the Feature Competition, 56 short films in competition, which are organized into five screenings, as well as an animated series competition, a virtual reality competition, and a Canadian student competition. There are competitions for animated films for pre-school and age 6 to 12 audiences. (Note that most other films are rated 12+ or Mature.)

Photo: Petr Maur

There are panoramas of Canadian and of international animation outside of competition. And there are lots of special screenings, including two celebrating the 80th anniversary of Canada’s wonderful NFB (National Film Board)—a wonderful opportunity to sample the NFB’s rich catalogue. There’s a special screening devoted to French animation from 1894 to 2018, and even a special screening on the automobile. Plus there are retrospectives of the work of five individual animators. The OIAF is real cornucopia of animation!

And all of this is available to the general public at quite reasonable prices. I’ve been to Toronto International Film Festival, and believe me, the OIAF prices are reasonable! Tickets are discounted for kids under 13, high school students, seniors, members of the ByTowne Cinema, the Canadian Film Institute, the National Gallery or the Ottawa Art Gallery. There are also day passes and pick-six passes.

Since my favourite OIAF venue is the ByTowne Cinema, here are a few of the films I’m looking forward to seeing there.

Image: ‘The Swallows of Kabul’

All seven of the films in the feature competition are playing at the ByTowne at least once. All the feature films have trailers on the OIAF’s website. Of these, the ones that interest me the most are “The Swallows of Kabul”, because of its heart-rending story and watercolour-style animation, “Children of the Sea” because I like most Japanese animation, and “Away” because the trailer is ravishingly beautiful. The French/Romanian co-production “Marona’s Fantastic Tale” looks intriguing, too. Romanian animators often produce beautiful unusual films.

Feature Film: ‘Marona’s Fantastic Tale’

I’m sure that some of the best animation will be in the Short Film Competition. But which of the five Short Film Competition screenings to choose? That’s really up to you. Since I can’t go to all of them (though believe me, I’d love to!), I choose them by rather laboriously going through all the listings, reading the brief description of each film. Want a short cut? Check out the Canadian (especially from the NFB), Russian and Eastern European short films. They’re the countries which have most often delighted me with their previous offerings.

Then there’s the Canadian Panorama… 15 short films, TV commercials, student films, music videos and more, all from the Great White North.

But these are just what most intrigue me. You can find the ones that most interest you by perusing the write-ups and trailers at the OIAF’s website of all the 2019 screenings.

Got time for only one (well, maybe two) OIAF screenings? Go to “The Best of the OIAF” Parts 1 and 2 on closing night at the ByTowne. These are audience favourites and the winners of the official competitions.

View this post on Instagram

🦉 G I V E A W A Y 🦉 From September 25 to 29, the #Ottawa International Animation Festival will be the stage where you can enjoy the world's most cutting-edge, thoughtful, funny and provocative animation films. . During #OIAF19, North America's largest animation recent, there are over 80 films being shown and you can go to the blog now to read #apt613's guide to the festival (link in bio) . Besides this preview, we are also giving away 4️⃣ tickets to NightOwl, the OIAF's biggest event. This thing isn't just a party, but an interactive collaboration of music, drawing, #cosplay, tech, art and animation. We're talking bands, cosplayers, animated shorts, #VR, snacks and limited edition #OIAF beers! . NightOwl takes place Sept. 28 at the @ottawaartgallery 9pm-2am and to enter the contest, simply: 1. Follow @ottawa.animationfestival 2. Give this posta little ❤️ 3. Tag three pals who should join you at the #animation fest! . This contest closes on Sept. 23, and we'll randomly select one winner and DM them (so please be sure to follow @apt613 so we can reach you!) . Poster by Steve Angel

A post shared by apt613 (@apt613) on

The Ottawa International Animation Festival runs September 25-29. Single tickets and passes are available online.