The Ottawa International Animation Festival concluded last night with its award ceremony honoring some of best animation of the year.

Stephen Irwin‘s Moxie (trailer above) won the Grand Prize for Independent Short. Phil Mulloy‘s controversial Buried But Not Dead won the big prize for Best Animated Feature (see my opinion of it below).

Other awards of note include: Best Student Grand Prize to Jason Carpenter’s The Renter; Best Commissioned Film to Intel The Chase; Best Animation School Showreel to Israel’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design; and Best Graduate Animation to Eamonn O’Neill’s I’m Fine Thanks (see trailer below). Click here for the full list of winners.

Festival highlights for me were the tributes to Aaron Augenblick, Pen Ward and Thurop Van Orman, which were both highly entertaining and somewhat educational (hat tip to Pen for showing Rebecca Sugar’s Singles off of Cartoon Brew TV); John Canemaker’s incredible heart-felt tribute/talk for Joe Grant and Joe Ranft; Pixar’s Enrico Casarosa screening and discussing (in wonderful detail) his new short La Luna (which will be released with Brave next year); Disney’s screening of both The Ballad of Nessie and Winnie The Pooh with animator Mark Henn and Pooh directors Steve Anderson and Don Hall on hand to answer all questions; and Brandon Oldenburg’s whimsical presentation on the making of The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lesmore.

I watched all four feature films in competition: Chico and Rita is a beautiful film, grown up film based around the world of jazz of the 40s and 50s. Not exactly sure what technique is used here, but if its rotoscope, its one of the best uses of the form I’ve ever seen.

Mati Kutt’s Taevalaul (Sky Song) is an amazing non-narrative sci-fi/fantasy stop motion film (45 minutes) in the Brothers Quay tradition. Hilarious in parts, thought provoking throughout. Might be my favorite film of the week.

Colorful by Keiichi Hara presents important themes – like suicide, teen prostitution, reincarnation, bullying and dysfunctional families – in his compelling anime feature. I liked the film and its story, but it is told at a snail’s pace (126 mins!), and despite a fantasy premise concerning an angel there is nothing in this film that couldn’t have been said perhaps better in live action.

Dead But Not Buried I hated. I actually admire the shorts of Phil Mulloy, but this feature is a continuation of his previous Mr. Christie film. Talking heads in silhouette may be fine for 12 minutes on Adult Swim, but 80 minutes (twice) is too much to take.

As for the rest of the fest, I had a blast. Met many Brew readers, saw many old friends. I screened a bunch of violent cartoons at several venues and did a CBC radio show on Saturday morning to promote the screenings. You can listen to it here:

At the picnic Friday afternoon (above), left to right: Yvette Kaplan, me, Tom Knott, Steve Stanchfield, Mark Mayerson.

And finally, a strange taste of Chris Robinson’s late-night festival programming: a mock panel discussing the history of animation held on Thursday night, featured this piece (below) written and animated by Morgan Miller (“Teela“) and Josh Kleefeld. Here, they discuss the history of animated short films and the Ottawa Animation Festival’s role in fostering the medium.

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