The 2023 Ottawa International Animation Festival (OIAF) wrapped over the weekend, where Canadian films were a hit with the judges and, for the third year running, a Japanese film won the grand prize for best short.
This year’s top feature was Joël Vaudreuil’s When Adam Changes¸ a surreal Canadian comedy that caught our eye in this year’s Annecy Contrechamp competition. Produced by David Pierrat and Olivier Picard at Parce Que Films, the film is a wild and weird suburban trip with a dark sense of humor and a sweetness that is easy to get behind as a viewer.
The OAIF feature film jury, comprised of Jessica Borutski (Canada), Joel Frenzer (United States), and Matthew Rankin (Canada), said of When Adam Changes:
This film about an impressionable teenager left an impression on us. For the filmmaker’s skillful walk of the delicate line between irony and sincerity; for his mastery of the absurd; for the detail and precision of his artistic approach; and for authentic heartfelt humor, this year’s Grand Prize winner for Best Animated Feature is Adam change lentement (When Adam Changes) by Joël Vaudreuil.
Ryo Orikasa’s Miserable Miracle took the grand prize for an animated short, becoming the third Japanese film in as many years to win the prize following Bird In The Peninsula in 2022 and A Bite of Bone in 2021. It’s also noteworthy that the film was part of Ottawa’s non-narrative section, a filmmaking category that is often overlooked by festival juries in favor of narrative stories. A Japan-France-Canada co-production, iserable Miracle is an animated adaptation of the eponymous book by Henri Michaux (1956), written about his experiences with mescaline. In the film, the book’s lines of text fill the screen and begin to vibrate and morph, with individual letters breaking off and turning to stick figures as a narrator reads the author’s original words.
According to the shorts jury, comprised of Xi Chen (China), Alla Gadassik (Canada), and Parissa Mohit (Canada):
This film embraces animation as an intoxicating cocktail of image, word, and movement. It activates the spectator’s hallucinatory and synaesthetic sensibilities. For exploring the boundaries of animation and affirming it as a timeless and poetic art form, the jury awards the grand prize to Ryo Orikasa’s Miserable Miracle.
Alexandra Myotte and Jean-Sébastien Hamel’s A Crab in the Pool topped this year’s Canadian short competition. The film is a coming-of-age story that turns on young Zoe and her little brother Theo, left to fend for themselves in a run-down neighborhood. The animation is just weird enough to be a lot of fun without adversely affecting the grounded story of two siblings.
Continuing an impressive month in Canada, Daria Kascheeva’s recent Toronto best short film winner Electra won this year’s OAIF Wacom Public Prize. The film is told from the first-person perspective of its adult titular protagonist, who recalls her 10th birthday and the lasting trauma it caused. Her memories become intertwined with dreams and imagination, represented in the film’s off-kilter mix of animation techniques.
A complete list of winners is below:
2023 Ottawa International Animation Festival Winners
GRAND PRIZE FOR SHORT ANIMATION
Miserable Miracle – Ryo Orikasa
GRAND PRIZE FOR ANIMATED FEATURE
Adam change lentement – Joël Vaudreuil
WACOM PUBLIC PRIZE
Electra – Daria Kashcheeva
CANADIAN FILM INSTITUTE (CFI) AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN ANIMATION
Winner: A Crab in the Pool – Alexandra Myotte, Jean-Sébastien Hamel
Honorable Mention: The Girl with the Red Beret – Janet Perlman
Honorable Mention: A Bear Named Jesus – Terril Calder
Hélène Tanguay Award for Humor: Winner: Pipes – Kilian Feusi, Jessica Meier, Sujanth Ravichandran
Animated Short Competition – Category Prizes
Families’ Albums – Moïa Jobin-Paré
Zima – Kasumi Ozeki, Tomek Popakul
14th Anibar Animation Festival Trailer “Love” – Sander Joon
BENTO BOX AWARD FOR BEST STUDENT ANIMATION
Cyclepaths – Anton Cla
NBCUNIVERSAL AWARD FOR BEST CANADIAN STUDENT
Winner: Between You and Me – Cameron Kletke, Emily Carr (University of Art + Design)
Honorable Mention: Ruins of Equinox – Philippe Shewchenko, Mel Hoppenheim (School of Cinema – Concordia University)
Honorable Mention: Bliss – Nadya Aubrey (Université du Québec à Montréal)
ANIMATION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES 13+ COMPETITION
Daffy in Wackyland – Max Winston
ANIMATION FOR YOUNG AUDIENCES 7+ COMPETITION
Winner: The Goose – Jan Mika
Honorable Mention: Swimming With Wings – Daphna Awadish Golan
Honorable Mention: The Soul’s Journey – Dylan McGarry, Marc Moynihan
ANIMATED SERIES COMPETITION
Haha, You Clowns “Episode 1: Movie Night” – Joe Cappa
VIRTUAL REALITY COMPETITION
My Inner Ear Quartet – Koji Yamamura
Animated Short Competition – Craft Awards
Box Cutters – Naomi van Niekerk
Furrie – Lucie Grannec
XPPEN AWARD FOR BEST TECHNIQUE
The Miracle – Nienke Deutz
BEST SOUND DESIGN
Eeva – Morten Tšinakov, Lucija Mrzljak
Pictured at top: When Adam Changes, Miserable Miracles