The Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF), North America’s largest animated film festival, announced the winners of its 43rd annual gathering at an awards ceremony held Saturday evening at the National Arts Centre.

Winners were selected from a total of 117 films in competition. The 2019 edition received a total of 2,424 entries from 93 countries.

Topping the festival on the feature side was the indie Japanese film Our Sound (On Gaku), which made its world premiere in Ottawa. Based on the manga by Hiroyuki Ohashi and directed by Kenji Iwaisawa, the film follows Kenji, a teenage boy, who starts a band with his friends to impress a girl, despite not having any music skills. The film opens in Japanese theaters next January; a U.S. release hasn’t been announced yet.

The jury recognized Our Sound for “being a triumph of economic storytelling without sacrificing the richness of its characters,” adding that they “were particularly impressed with the perfect timing, the simplicity of design, and the joyous celebration of the medium of animation.”

Austrian filmmaker Thomas Renoldner won the top short prize for his experimental short Don’t Know What, which he describes as a “slapstick avant-garde film.” It’s rare for a non-narrative experimental film to top any animation festival, but the veteran short-form filmmaker managed to win over the jury. The jury recognized the film “for its impeccably executed, playful exploration of the animated form, but not only that – it also stands out as a piece of art.”

Some other key winners:

Theo Ushev won best Canadian animation for his powerful personal film The Physics of Sorrow, marking the sixth time that he’s won this award at Ottawa.

Curse of the Monkey Bird, from the yet-to-be-released new slate of Looney Tunes shorts overseen by Pete Browngardt, picked up the prize for animation for young audiences (ages 6-12).

Two films won two prizes apiece: Winston Hacking’s Erodium Thunk won the awards for best technique and non-narrative animation, and Sophie Gate’s Slug Life won best sound and the Cartoon Network Award for best narrative short.

Here is the complete list of winners from the 2019 edition:

NELVANA GRAND PRIZE FOR FEATURE ANIMATION
Our Sound (On Gaku) by Kenji Iwaisawa, Japan

NELVANA GRAND PRIZE FOR SHORT ANIMATION
Don’t Know What by Thomas Renoldner, Austria

Canadian Film Institute (CFI) Award for Best Canadian Animation
Winner: The Physics of Sorrow (Physique De La Tristesse) by Theodore Ushev
Honorable mentions:
Finding Uranus by Ivan Li
Girl in the Hallway by Valerie Barnhart

ANIMATION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES COMPETITION: PRESCHOOL
Winner: A Tiger With No Stripes (Le Tigre Sans Rayures) by Raul ‘Robin’ Morales Reyes, France/Switzerland
Second Place: Fluffy Hour “PuiPui & MuuMuu Always Together” by Hiroyuki Mizoguchi, Japan
Third Place: Nest by Sonja Rohleder and Jens Heuler, Germany, and I’m Not Scared of the Crocodile by Marc Riba and Anna Solanas, Spain

ANIMATION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES COMPETITION AGES 6 TO 12
Winner: Looney Tunes Cartoons: Curse of the Monkey Bird by Pete Browngardt, U.S.
Special mention: Matches by Géza M. Tóth, Hungary, and Teofrastas by Sergei Kibus, Estonia

ANIMATED SERIES
Bee and PuppyCat: Lazy in Space, “Little Fingers” by Natasha Allegri, Hideaki Oba, Hans Tseng, Efrain Farias, and Joji Shimura, U.S./Japan

BEST SCRIPT
Acid Rain by Tomek Popakul, Poland
Jury Comment: “For its haunting storytelling, cinematic fluidity, and vividly-rendered perspective.”

BEST DESIGN
The Six by Xi Chen and Xu An, China
Jury Comment: “For its arrangement of the frame, which was both economical and ornate, blending antique and contemporary styles.”

BEST TECHNIQUE
Erodium Thunk by Winston Hacking, Canada
Jury Comment: “For its intelligent arrangement of source material and fascinating transitions.”

BEST SOUND
Slug Life by Sophie Gate, U.K.
Jury Comment: “The complex sound design and original music contributed to this film’s rich, exuberant landscape.”

VIRTUAL REALITY
Gymansia by Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski, Canada
Jury Comment: “For the way it guides the eye around a simple space, with great control over composition, leading up to a moment remarkable for its corporeal sensation of the glance.”

COMMISSIONED ANIMATION
Tricky Women 2019 Trailer by Marta Pajek, Poland
Jury Comment: “This tricky trailer made our hearts skip a beat.”

NON-NARRATIVE ANIMATION
Erodium Thunk by Winston Hacking, Canada
Jury Comment: “With its compelling balance of control and chance, this ever-morphing collage just kept surprising us.”

ANIMATION GUILD STUDENT AWARD
Alfred Fauchet, Here and There by Mathieu Georis, Belgium
Jury Comment: “For its sophisticated play on the idea of polyphony, and its clever blend of absurdity and abstraction. “

CARTOON NETWORK AWARD FOR BEST NARRATIVE SHORT
Slug Life by Sophie Gate, U.K.
Jury Comment: “Because it is wild, janky, and funny. The vocal performance, quotable dialogue, and boneless narrative structure are refreshingly liberating.”

CANADIAN STUDENT
Winner: Finding Uranus by Ivan Li, Emily Carr University of Art and Design
2nd place: J‘ai Hiberné toute l’année by Adele Vendette, Concordia University
3rd place: The Fox and The Pigeon by various directors, Sheridan College

VIMEO STAFF PICK AWARD
Girl in the Hallway by Valerie Barnhart, Germany

PUBLIC PRIZE
Gravedad by Matisse Gonzalez, Germany

The Competition Feature Jury was comprised of Lizzy Hobbs, Faiyaz Jafri, and Lei Lei. The Competition Short Jury consisted of Emily Pelstring, Piotr Bosacki, and Eva Cvijanovic. The Kids Jury, comprised of Ottawa-area children between the ages of 8-12, judged the Young Audiences: Preschool and Ages 6-12 Competitions.

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