Post by Alanna Smith
In September the capital will be bustling with unique talent, here celebrating the Ottawa International Animation Festival’s 40th anniversary. The festival, known for its wide array of talent from world-class animators, students and kids alike, showcases “the world’s most cutting-edge, quirky and important animation,” says the OIAF website.
“The highlight of the festival and why we came into existence was to showcase the art side of animation,” says Artistic Director Chris Robinson. Robinson, who is celebrating his 25th year with the OIAF, says the festival “brings a rare chance for people in Ottawa to get exposed to a pretty cool art form. There is the cultural aspect, there is recruiting going on and we’re planting seeds for the future.”
For their anniversary, the OIAF will present talks by award winners, like the first ever Grand Prize winner Caroline Leaf. Organizers will also host an exhibition of festival posters dating back to 1976, and showcase all Grand Prize winners from every year. Not to mention, a huge 40th birthday party!
“The films they pick are so wildly different and entertaining…”
“This year particularly, the competition pieces are quite strong,” says Robinson. But, he is excited about student work. “They haven’t fully found their identity artistically so they are sometimes more willing to experiment. Sometimes they think ‘this is my only chance to make my own content without producers or censors – so you see exciting stuff.”
Another component of the festival is The Animation Conference (TAC). This is the only event in North America that allows people to pitch and network with industry professionals. This year, Corus Entertainment is offering a development deal and Toon Boom Animation is giving away software to the winners of TAC’s Pitch THIS! program.
During the festival there will be a feature film competition, a short film competition and the Canadian student competition. The OIAF receives over two thousand submissions. Of those selected, two local filmmakers are in the 2016 program. Ottawa’s very own Chris Dainty and Dave Cooper will be showcased in their respective categories.
Dainty has a long history with the OIAF. He first attended 21 years ago with his middle school class and picked up a book published by Algonquin animation students. The exposure to animation artists and their work peaked his interest in the field.
Now, years later, he is celebrating Dainty Productions‘ 10th birthday and has his film One Last Dream being shown in the Canadian Panorama section of the festival. Dainty will be in the running for the Canadian Film Institute Award for Best Canadian Animation. “I’m really proud of my film,” says Dainty.
One Last Dream was written and co-directed by Noam Rabinovitch. The story is centered on a factory farm pig that becomes fascinated by a beautiful butterfly. The pig then dreams, his one last dream, about the butterfly before waking up to his fate at the slaughterhouse.
“He had a very distinct voice and wanted to say something,” says Dainty of Rabinovitch. “Sometimes you don’t want to look at the reality of things, like the meat industry and how animals are treated quite terribly. It just makes you think. For this film, there’s a message there for people.”
Dainty drew inspiration for the film from real-life pigs at Ottawa’s experimental farm. His team took photos of the animal’s skin and texture so that they could create an animation inspired by real life.
Other members of Dainty’s team were storyboard artist Bradley Cayford, background artist Fabian J. Cuevas and animators Jennifer Dainty and Phil Lockerby.
“…expect to see things [you] won’t see anywhere else.”
Another Ottawa native and festival favourite is Dave Cooper. This year Cooper, in collaboration with Norwegian filmmaker Rune Spaans, will showcase The Absence of Eddy Table. This mystery story follows a character named Eddy who ventures into a dark forest and meets a fascinating girl who has been infected by a mysterious and dangerous parasite. The film has been selected for the International Shorts Competition.
First time attendees “can expect to see things they won’t see anywhere else,” says Dainty. “It can open up your eyes to another huge world of animation that I think you only get at the festival. The films they pick are so wildly different and entertaining… People will really get a sense for what the world of animation is and the community.”
The 40th Ottawa International Animation Festival will run from September 21 to 25. Visit www.animationfestival.ca information on the films, schedule, venues, tickets and passes.