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Highlights from Ottawa

I’ve been in Ottawa since Wednesday and it’s been wall-to-wall screenings, presentations and panels (not to mention parties, meetings and lots of walking). Today Eric Goldberg is giving a lecture, there’s one last competition screening, and tonight is the award ceremonies. One of the major highlights of this five day event was the John Canemaker interview with Richard Williams last night. Two hours was not enough. Williams and Canemaker could have gone on for four hours and I still would have wanted more. If you are in New York tomorrow night, do not miss the encore at MoMA (and I understand Williams will be touring the U.S. giving similar interviews to promote his 16-part DVD set The Animators Survival Kit Animated – more about this in a forthcoming post).

The competition has been pretty good, and I came away from each screening with at least one film (sometimes several) that blew me away with creativity and visual imagination. I’d like to note a few here that were particularly worthy of seeking out.

Skhizein, Jeremy Clapin’s 3D/2D tour-de-force about a man hit by a meteorite and finding himself existing 91 centimeters away from his body. The story was so unique and fun, I can see Hollywood remaking it, perhaps with someone like Michael Gondry, as a live action vehicle for a Ben Stiller or Steve Martin. Let’s hope not. This animated film is gloriously original and beautifully realized.

Berni’s Doll by Yann Jouette, about a lonely man who buys, builds and sexually abuses a female robot, is so well made and so funny you can forgive it’s politically incorrect attitudes towards women. Its an outstanding short, which arguably becomes pro-feminist in its climactic resolution.

I also really loved Camera Obscura, directed by Matthieu Buchalski, Jean-Michel Drechsler and Thierry Onillon, three students at Supinfocom, the computer graphic university in France. If Guy Maddin did animation, this is what he’d make. Luckily, I found an embed and can share it with you below:

Link: Bitfilm TV

I’m also wild about Nina Paley’s feature Sita Sings The Blues, which I’m seeing again, for a second time, today. More about this film, and other Ottawa highlights, in a forthcoming post.

  • DanO

    Jerry, there seems to be much more quality CGI films worth noting this year. What was the overall breakdown of the mediums at the festival? Is CGI growing to be the majority at this point?

  • TJR


    Camera Obscura is amazing! One of the best animated shorts I’ve seen in a while.

    I went to the link and saw that it was for sale. I clicked it on to see how much thinking I would buy it. For some strange reason my own computer tells me:

    You don’t have permission to access /videos/1500k/ on this server

    I had to laugh.

    Has anyone else experienced this?

    I know how to rip embedded video from the internet, but I would rather pay for this piece of art, and give my support to the artist.

  • I saw Skhizein at Annecy and it blew me away. Made me cry. Such an intelligent, amazing film. It has stuck with me a long time, too.

    Glad you liked “Sita”!

  • Barbara

    Jugglers was one of my favorites, along with Skhizein.

  • Pete Murphey


    Sita was fantastic, you’ve made a visual masterpiece, which was rich with emotion, novel in it’s approach and very entertaining.

    I’m sorry to see that “Terra” won the best feature at Ottawa as it was the least innovative and the most superficial, predictable and generic of the four finalists. The prize should of gone to you.

    Will you have a DVD of the film for sale anytime soon?